Vietnam - could the US have dodged a bullet?

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
Of course, if it's not written in English, preferably in the USA, it did not happen. Much simpler like that.

Reminds me of the film U-571....

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2009/feb/25/u-571-reel-history

Another source, by someone who was there, a WWII Jedburgh, COL Sassi, mentions this event in which French para officer LT Klotz was killed:

http://www.amazon.fr/Opérations-Spéciales-Ans-Guerres-Secrètes/dp/2915243174

without looking it up I assume we are talking about (in effect) vichy troops here?
 
No, we are talking about Free French Jedburgh who were actually operating with British officers as part of Force 136....but at this time, the US of A had very little time for colonies, both in Indochina and Malaya.
 

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
ah so it was resistance teams fighting with eachother for post war dominance - like the dozen or so french resistance movements back home.

except ho was fighting to get rid of the lot of them. I've always found it interesting that the british were so small in number they kept the japanese army armed and deployed to keep the peace after the surrender.

something the US might have taken note of in iraq. :)
 

ugly

LE
Moderator
The US involvement in Vietnam started before the end of WWII, when, IIRC, OSS Major Arch Patti met the leader of the Vietnam Doc Lap Dong Minh (Vietnam Liberation Committee) - later known as the Viet Minh - to discuss how the US could best aid the locals to oust the Japanese. The talks were successful, and OSS operatives trained and armed Viet Minh guerrillas for their anti-Japanese liberation campaign. The name of the Viet Minh spokesman was Nguyen That Thanh - operating under the nom de guerre of Ho Chi Minh.

Cheers,
Cliff
Correct and they chose to ignore the little fellah later in favour of the southerners. Silly confusing nationalism with Communism
 
No, it was not french in-fighting at all, it was French Jedburgh along with some with Brits, all part of Force 136 being opposed and in some cases killed by OSS members defending Ho because then the US administration only saw the world through its anti colonialist lens; a few years latter, this lens had been replaced by the anti communist lens but the harm had been done....

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_136#SOE.27s_French_Indo-China_Section_.281943.E2.80.931945.29

"There were also American reservations over restoring the French colonial regime after the war, which led the Americans eventually to support the anti-French Viet Minh.[6] Together with the complexities of the relationships between the Vichy-leaning officials in Indochina, and the rival Giraudist and de Gaullist resistance movements, this made liaison very difficult. SOE had few links with the indigenous Viet Minh movement."

The argument of the "rival Giraudist and de Gaullist resistance movements" is completely moot as by 1945 Giraud had been completely sidelined.
 
Team Deer, which was the OSS team in contact with HCM killed nobody, let alone French soldiers.

Team Deer had French members. Rene Defourneaux in particular.

The allied underground network in Indochina, such as it was, was run by the British and French until the Japanese coup of 9 March 1945. After the coup the network was destroyed. Force 136 had principally supported the French network up until that time.

In the aftermath of the coup new networks were established principally by the OSS working out of Southern China. These were needed mainly to provide Met information for the USAAF attacks on the home islands, that had been lost.

The two best books on the subject are David Marr's 'Vietnam 1945 Quest for Power' and Defourneaux's 'The tracks of the fox'
 
This is the US view; the French view is very much different as pointed out by operators who were there such as Jean Deuve in a series of studies.
 
Fantassin - I have always understood that bien dien phu was in fact a gamble for a war winning victory attempted by local commanders and contrary to their orders after the French government had already decided to call it quits.
 
The fact remains. The OSS team assigned to HCM's group at Tran Tao for a week in August 1945, killed nobody, let alone any Frenchman.

It is categorically wrong for you to state that:

The OSS team did not just treat Uncle Ho; it also shot at and killed some French soldiers that were after him.

Even the Frenchmen who were on that team have written books refuting what you have said. You are greatly confused in terms of time and place and your evidence does not support your contention.
 
Ugly I disagree. It is not correct:

Ho Chi Minh's enemies in 1945 were in order of priority:


The Trotskyites that controlled the party in Cochin China (Saigon)
The leadership of non communist nationalists.
The Kuomintang
The French
Lastly the Japanese.

By the end of 1946 he had eliminated the Trots and a goodly proportion of nationalist rivals, including the eldest Diem brother and negotiated the exit of the KMT from the northern half of Vietnam. The Japanese were finished, which only left the French.....

The US agenda was always focused on the defeat of Japan. Nothing more.

Ho was always a communist first and a nationalist second. Always.
 
Last edited:

Grumblegrunt

LE
Book Reviewer
Fantassin - I have always understood that bien dien phu was in fact a gamble for a war winning victory attempted by local commanders and contrary to their orders after the French government had already decided to call it quits.

or that's what the french would like you to think to conceal their decisions.

the movie is on youtube somewhere with eng subs
 
The fact remains. The OSS team assigned to HCM's group at Tran Tao for a week in August 1945, killed nobody, let alone any Frenchman.

It is categorically wrong for you to state that:

The OSS team did not just treat Uncle Ho; it also shot at and killed some French soldiers that were after him.

Even the Frenchmen who were on that team have written books refuting what you have said. You are greatly confused in terms of time and place and your evidence does not support your contention.
Thanks for that, I know the USA made mistakes by the bucketful, but a US team deliberately engaging and killing french Soldiers in 1945 sounded like so much bullshit and would have been mentioned in reliable non butthurt french sources before.
 
Even the Frenchmen who were on that team have written books refuting what you have said. You are greatly confused in terms of time and place and your evidence does not support your contention.

Let's agree to disagree; there are at least two sources saying the contrary, both officers who fought in Indochina with impeccable records.

Amusing to read than when you are not sticking to the US party line you must be "confused in terms of time and place"....fairly Stalinist approach if you ask me.

But I can understand it's not easy to look back at those facts and to realize that the US has a history of fostering movements that quickly escape its grasps; the Vietminh in the 40s, the Talebans at the 90s, history repeats itself.
 
Last edited:

Well, the Communists were the only ones who had shown themselves ready to back Vietnamese independence. When Wilson started with his national self-determination spiel after WWI, Ho was in Paris, and borrowed a frock coat and top hat to attend and make the argument for Vietnamese self-determination. Wilson had him thrown out - his idea of national self-determination meant the chance for the US to redraw the boundaries of post-war Europe, not for colonial subjects to get all uppity.

As for the start of the Vietnam-US war, apart from some military advisers, the chief architect and the man who committed the US irrevocably to South Vietnam, was Kennedy. US domestic politics was at the time largely a matter of who was the most anti-communist (something which suited Kennedy very well, as a Catholic he had the Catholic vote, he needed something to appeal to the WASPs so hung his hat on the Red Menace). After making a hash of the Bay of Pigs, and being criticised by people like the madman Curtis LeMay for not taking the Cuban Missile Crisis as an excuse to invade Cuba (though LeMay was more interested in the possibilities of provoking a global nuclear war than the 'Cuban threat').

Politically vulnerable, he needed to shore up his anti-communist credentials by finding some communists to anti. He arranged or at least aided the overthrow and murder of President Diem - for not prosecuting the war with sufficient vigour - shortly before being murdered in his turn. He left Johnson with a commitment to South Vietnam which Johnson never wanted and thought was a distraction from his Great Society, but he was trapped in the anti-communist paradigm and had to stay the course.
 
Let's agree to disagree; there are at least two sources saying the contrary, both officers who fought in Indochina with impeccable records.

Amusing to read than when you are not sticking to the US party line you must be "confused in terms of time and place"....fairly Stalinist approach if you ask me.

But I can understand it's not easy to look back at those facts and to realize that the US has a history of fostering movements that quickly escape its grasps; the Vietminh in the 40s, the Talebans at the 90s, history repeats itself.
Whats fairly shitty is accusing US troops of deliberately engaging and killing french troops, but then the french always did have more loyalty to those who overran them then to allies.
 
It's not "shitty", it's fact. Just like it's fact the US did all it could to accelerate the departure of all French presence and influence in the region in 1954 and after, so convinced they were they would do better.

We know the end result.

With its dogmatic anti colonialist agenda, he US did many mistakes in 1945, only to die in droves latter, sometimes, like the C-82 pilots over Dien Bien Phu in 1954, in support of the French.....
 
Whats fairly shitty is accusing US troops of deliberately engaging and killing french troops, but then the french always did have more loyalty to those who overran them then to allies.

Gold Bricker- I've been watching this with interest and I think we need to be a bit more even handed about this. The relationship between France, Britain, and America was always sticky. De Gaulle would not let France be dictated to as evinced in his relationship with Churchill. The Americans had the opportunity to call the shots once the ww2 finished but apart from the fact that the three have red white and Blue flags in different versions they have about as much in common as chalk and cheese. The key here was communism either of the Chinese or Russian varieties. Once Ike had put a spanner in the works post Suez the relationship was decidedly frosty. None of the three of us are natural bedfellows. But in a sense Vietnam was merely a continuation of Korea, which was in stalemate.
 
Let's agree to disagree; there are at least two sources saying the contrary, both officers who fought in Indochina with impeccable records.

Amusing to read than when you are not sticking to the US party line you must be "confused in terms of time and place"....fairly Stalinist approach if you ask me.

But I can understand it's not easy to look back at those facts and to realize that the US has a history of fostering movements that quickly escape its grasps; the Vietminh in the 40s, the Talebans at the 90s, history repeats itself.

I do not agree to disagree. I disagree with you vehemently. You are wrong.

To support your statement of

The OSS team did not just treat Uncle Ho; it also shot at and killed some French soldiers that were after him.

You cited a work by Erwan Bergot.

I have not read Bergot's book but it is clear from the fact that he was 15 in 1945 that he could not have been a participant or witness to the actions of the OSS. His work is principally concerned with events he participated in 10 years later.

Your second source Stassi, operated in Laos and was nowhere near the OSS or Ho Chi Minh in 1945.

Your sources do not support your assertion at all.

Your use of these citations confirm that you are indeed "confused in terms of time and place"

This has nothing to do with sticking with the US Line and everything to do with holding you to account for historical accuracy. This is actually more than historical inaccuracy, it amounts to a blatant untruth. Goldbricker is entirely correct when states that this is shitty behaviour.

No one questions that in the wake of the Japanese coup in March 1945 that it was open season on Frenchmen. Immediately after the wars end the situation seriously worsened. French were killed; no one is disputing that. That OSS Team Deer was complicit in that is an outrageous lie.

In fact the only OSS casualty in Indochina was Peter Dewey, who was killed because he was mistaken for a Frenchman. The truth is completely at odds with what you have written.
 
I never wrote anywhere that OSS Team Deer was complicit, you are making that up; and yes, the incident I mention happened in Laos where Sassi (not Stassi) operated.
 
Well, the Communists were the only ones who had shown themselves ready to back Vietnamese independence.

That is not right. There were a plethora of non-communist nationalist parties who showed themselves better than ready to back Vietnamese Independence.

The Yen Bai uprising was the most serious attempt in 1930. This was the work of the vehemently anti communist nationalists the VNQDD. The communists were nowhere to be seen at those barricades.

The Diem family were legitimate Vietnamese nationalists as was the Emperor Bao Dai.

There were plenty of alternatives to Ho Chi Minh's route to independence. That the party prevailed owed something to luck and a lot to a deliberate policy of assassinating political rivals.
 
Top