Lyndon B. Johnson
Lyndon Baines Johnson referred to as LBJ, was an American politician who served as the 36th president of the United States from 1963 to 1969. The 37th vice president of the United States from 1961 to 1963, he assumed the presidency following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. A Democrat from Texas, Johnson served as a United States Representative and as the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. Johnson is one of only four people. Born in a farmhouse in Stonewall, Johnson was a high school teacher and worked as a congressional aide before winning election to the House of Representatives in 1937, he won election to the Senate in 1948 and was appointed to the position of Senate Majority Whip in 1951. He became the Senate Minority Leader in 1953 and the Senate Majority Leader in 1955, he became known for his domineering personality and the "Johnson treatment", his aggressive coercion of powerful politicians to advance legislation. Johnson ran for the Democratic nomination in the 1960 presidential election.
Although unsuccessful, he accepted the invitation of then-Senator John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts to be his running mate, they went on to win a close election over the Republican ticket of Richard Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge Jr. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated and Johnson succeeded him as president; the following year, Johnson won in a landslide. With 61.1 percent of the popular vote, Johnson won the largest share of the popular vote of any candidate since the uncontested 1820 election. In domestic policy, Johnson designed the "Great Society" legislation to expand civil rights, public broadcasting, Medicaid, aid to education, the arts and rural development, public services and his "War on Poverty". Assisted in part by a growing economy, the War on Poverty helped millions of Americans rise above the poverty line during his administration. Civil rights bills that he signed into law banned racial discrimination in public facilities, interstate commerce, the workplace and housing.
With the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, the country's immigration system was reformed, encouraging greater emigration from regions other than Europe. Johnson's presidency marked the peak of modern liberalism after the New Deal era. In foreign policy, Johnson escalated American involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1964, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted Johnson the power to use military force in Southeast Asia without having to ask for an official declaration of war; the number of American military personnel in Vietnam increased from 16,000 advisors in non-combat roles in 1963 to 525,000 in 1967, many in combat roles. American casualties soared and the peace process stagnated. Growing unease with the war stimulated a large, angry anti-war movement based chiefly among draft-age students on university campuses. Johnson faced further troubles when summer riots began in major cities in 1965 and crime rates soared, as his opponents raised demands for "law and order" policies.
While Johnson began his presidency with widespread approval, support for him declined as the public became frustrated with both the war and the growing violence at home. In 1968, the Democratic Party factionalized. Nixon was elected to succeed him, as the New Deal coalition that had dominated presidential politics for 36 years collapsed. After he left office in January 1969, Johnson returned to his Texas ranch, where he died of a heart attack at age 64, on January 22, 1973. Johnson is ranked favorably by many historians because of his domestic policies and the passage of many major laws that affected civil rights, gun control, wilderness preservation, Social Security, although he has drawn substantial criticism for his escalation of the Vietnam War. Lyndon Baines Johnson was born on August 27, 1908, near Stonewall, Texas, in a small farmhouse on the Pedernales River, he was the oldest of five children born to Samuel Ealy Johnson Rebekah Baines. Johnson had one brother, Sam Houston Johnson, three sisters.
The nearby small town of Johnson City, was named after LBJ's cousin, James Polk Johnson, whose forebears had moved west from Georgia. Johnson had English and Ulster Scots ancestry, he was maternally descended from pioneer Baptist clergyman George Washington Baines, who pastored eight churches in Texas, as well as others in Arkansas and Louisiana. Baines, the grandfather of Johnson's mother, was the president of Baylor University during the American Civil War. Johnson's grandfather, Samuel Ealy Johnson Sr. was raised as a Baptist and for a time was a member of the Christian Church. In his years the grandfather became a Christadelphian; as a politician, Johnson was influenced in his positive attitude toward Jews by the religious beliefs that his family his grandfather, had shared with him. Johnson's favorite Bible verse came from the King James Version of Isaiah 1:18. "Come now, let us reason together..." In school, Johnson was an awkward, talkative youth, elected president of his 11th-grade class.
He graduated in 1924 from Johnson City High School, where he participated in public speaking and baseball. At age 15, Johnson was the youngest member of his class. Pressured by his parents to attend college, he en
Pierre Mendès France
Pierre Isaac Isidore Mendès France, known as PMF, was a French politician who served as President of the Council of Ministers for eight months from 1954 to 1955. He represented the Radical Party, his government had the support of the Communist party, his main priority was ending the war in Indochina, which had cost 92,000 dead, 114,000 wounded and 28,000 captured on the French side. Public opinion polls showed that, in February 1954, only 7% of the French people wanted to continue the fight to regain Indochina out of the hands of the Communists, led by Ho Chi Minh and his Viet Minh movement. At the Geneva Conference of 1954 he negotiated a deal that gave the Viet Minh control of Vietnam north of the seventeenth parallel, allowed him to pull out all French forces; the United States provided large-scale financial and economic support to South Vietnam. Mendès France was descended from a Portuguese Jewish family that settled in France in the 16th century, he was educated at the University of Paris, graduating with a doctorate in law and becoming the youngest member of the Paris Bar association in 1928.
In 1924 he joined the Radical Socialist Party, the traditional party of the French middle-class centre-left. He married the niece of Salvator Cicurel. In 1932 Mendès France was elected to the French Parliament as a député for the Eure département, his ability was recognized at once, in the 1936 Popular Front government of Léon Blum he was appointed Secretary of State for Finance. When World War II broke out he joined the French Air Force. After the French surrender to Nazi Germany, he was arrested by the Vichy government authorities and sentenced to six years' imprisonment on a false charge of desertion, but on 21 June 1941 he escaped and succeeded in reaching Britain, where he joined the Free French forces of Charles de Gaulle. After serving with the Free French Air Force, Mendès France was sent by de Gaulle as his Finance Commissioner in Algeria, headed the French delegation to the 1944 monetary conference at Bretton Woods; when de Gaulle returned to liberated Paris in September 1944, he appointed Mendès France as Minister for National Economy in the provisional government.
Mendès France soon fell out with René Pleven. Mendès France supported state regulation of wages and prices to control inflation, while Pleven favoured free market policies; when de Gaulle sided with Pleven, Mendès France resigned. Nonetheless, de Gaulle valued Mendès France's abilities, appointed him as a director of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, as French representative to the United Nations Economic and Social Council. In 1947, after democratic French politics resumed under the Fourth Republic, Mendès France was re-elected to the National Assembly, he first tried to form a government in June 1953, but was unable to gain the numbers in the Assembly. From 1950 he had been a consistent opponent of French colonialism, by 1954 France was becoming hopelessly embroiled in major colonial conflicts: the First Indochina War and the Algerian War of Independence; when French forces were defeated by the Vietnamese Communists at Dien Bien Phu in June 1954, the government of Joseph Laniel resigned, Mendès France formed a government with Communist Party support.
Mendès France negotiated an agreement with Ho Chi Minh, the Vietnamese Communist leader. There was, he said, no choice but total withdrawal from Indochina, the Assembly supported him by 471 votes to 14. Nationalist opinion was shocked, Roman Catholic opinion opposed abandoning the Vietnamese believers to Communism. A tirade of abuse, much of it anti-Semitic, was directed at Mendès France. Jean-Marie Le Pen a Poujadist member of the Assembly, described his "patriotic physical repulsion" for Mendès France. Undeterred, Mendès France next came to an agreement with Habib Bourguiba, the nationalist leader in Tunisia, for the independence of that colony by 1956, began discussions with the nationalist leaders in Morocco for a French withdrawal, he favoured concessions to the nationalists in Algeria. The future mercenary Bob Denard was convicted in 1954 and sentenced to fourteen months in prison for an assassination attempt against Mendès France. Mendès France hoped that the Radical Party would become the party of modernization and renewal in French politics, replacing the SFIO.
An advocate of greater European integration, he helped bring about the formation of the Western European Union, proposed far-reaching economic reform. He favoured defence co-operation with other European countries, but the National Assembly rejected the proposal for a European Defence Community because of misgivings about Germany's participation, his cabinet fell in February 1955. In 1956 he served as Minister of State in the cabinet headed by the SFIO leader Guy Mollet, but resigned over the issue of Algeria, coming to dominate French politics, his split over Algeria with Edgar Faure, leader of the conservative wing of the Radical Party, led to Mendès France resigning as party leader in 1957. Like most of the French left, Mendès France opposed de Gaulle's seizure of power in May 1958, when the mounting crisis in Algeria brought about a breakdown in the Fourth Republic system and the creation of a Fifth Republic, he led the Union of Democratic Forces, an anti-Gaullist group, but in the November 1958 elections he lost his seat in the Assembly.
First Indochina War
The First Indochina War began in French Indochina on December 19, 1946, lasted until July 20, 1954. Fighting between French forces and their Việt Minh opponents in the south dated from September 1945; the conflict pitted a range of forces, including the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps, led by France and supported by Bảo Đại's Vietnamese National Army against the Việt Minh, led by Ho Chi Minh and the People's Army of Vietnam led by Võ Nguyên Giáp. Most of the fighting took place in Tonkin in northern Vietnam, although the conflict engulfed the entire country and extended into the neighboring French Indochina protectorates of Laos and Cambodia. At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the Combined Chiefs of Staff decided that Indochina south of latitude 16° north was to be included in the Southeast Asia Command under British Admiral Mountbatten. Japanese forces located south of that line surrendered to him and those to the north surrendered to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. In September 1945, Chinese forces entered Tonkin, a small British task force landed at Saigon.
The Chinese accepted the Vietnamese government under Ho Chi Minh in power in Hanoi. The British refused to do in Saigon, deferred to the French there from the outset, against the ostensible support of the Việt Minh authorities by American OSS representatives. On V-J Day, September 2, Ho Chi Minh had proclaimed in Hanoi the establishment of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; the DRV ruled as the only civil government in all of Vietnam for a period of about 20 days, after the abdication of Emperor Bảo Đại, who had governed under Japanese rule. On 23 September 1945, with the knowledge of the British commander in Saigon, French forces overthrew the local DRV government, declared French authority restored in Cochinchina. Guerrilla warfare began around Saigon but the French retook control of the South and North of Indochina. Hô Chi Minh agreed to negotiate the future status of Vietnam, but the talks, held in France, failed to produce a solution. After over one year of latent conflict, all-out war broke out in December 1946 between French and Việt Minh forces as Hô and his government went underground.
The French tried to stabilize Indochina by reorganizing it as a Federation of Associated States. In 1949, they put former Emperor Bảo Đại back in power, as the ruler of a newly established State of Vietnam; the first few years of the war involved a low-level rural insurgency against the French. In 1949 the conflict turned into a conventional war between two armies equipped with modern weapons supplied by the United States and the Soviet Union. French Union forces included colonial troops from the whole former empire, French professional troops and units of the French Foreign Legion; the use of metropolitan recruits was forbidden by the government to prevent the war from becoming more unpopular at home. It was called the "dirty war" by leftists in France; the strategy of pushing the Việt Minh into attacking well-defended bases in remote parts of the country at the end of their logistical trails was validated at the Battle of Nà Sản. However, this base was weak because of a lack of concrete and steel.
French efforts were made more difficult due to the limited usefulness of armored tanks in a jungle environment, lack of strong air forces for air cover and carpet bombing, use of foreign recruits from other French colonies. Võ Nguyên Giáp, used efficient and novel tactics of direct fire artillery, convoy ambushes and massed anti-aircraft guns to impede land and air supply deliveries together with a strategy based on recruiting a sizable regular army facilitated by wide popular support, a guerrilla warfare doctrine and instruction developed in China, the use of simple and reliable war material provided by the Soviet Union; this combination proved fatal for the bases' defenses, culminating in a decisive French defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. At the International Geneva Conference on July 21, 1954, the new socialist French government and the Việt Minh made an agreement which gave the Việt Minh control of North Vietnam above the 17th parallel; the south continued under Bảo Đại. The agreement was denounced by the United States.
A year Bảo Đại would be deposed by his prime minister, Ngô Đình Diệm, creating the Republic of Vietnam. Soon an insurgency, backed by the north, developed against Diệm's government; the conflict escalated into the Vietnam War. Vietnam was absorbed into French Indochina in stages between 1858 and 1887. Nationalism grew. Early Vietnamese resistance centered on the intellectual Phan Bội Châu. Châu looked to Japan, which had modernized and was one of the few Asian nations to resist European colonization. With Prince Cường Để, Châu started two organizations in Japan, the Duy Tân hội and Vietnam Cong Hien Hoi. Due to French pressure, Japan deported Phan Bội Châu to China. Witnessing Sun Yat-sen's Xinhai Revolution, Châu was inspired to commence the Viet Nam Quang Phục Hội movement in Guangzhou. From 1914 to 1917, he was imprisoned by Yuan Shikai's counterrevolutionary government. In 1925, he was captured by French agents in spirited to Vietnam. Due to his popularity, Châu was spared from execution and placed under house arrest until his death in 1940.
In September 1940, shortly after Phan Bội Châu's death, Japan launched its invasion of French Indochina, mirroring its ally Germany's co
Côn Sơn Island
Côn Sơn known as Côn Lôn, is the largest island of the Côn Đảo archipelago, off the coast of southern Vietnam. Its French variant Grande-Condore was well-known during the times of French Indochina. Marco Polo mentioned the island in the description of his 1292 voyage from China to India under the name Sondur and Condur. In Ptolemy's Geography, they are referred to as the Isles of the Satyrs. In 1702, the English East India Company founded a settlement on this island off the south coast of southern Vietnam, in 1705 the garrison and settlement were destroyed. In 1787, through the Treaty of Versailles, Nguyễn Ánh promised to cede Poulo Condor to the French. In exchange Louis XVI promised to help Nguyễn Ánh to regain the throne, by supplying 1,650 troops on four frigates. In 1861, the French colonial government established Côn Đảo Prison on the island to house political prisoners. In 1954, it was turned over to the South Vietnamese government, who continued to use it for the same purpose. Notable prisoners held at Côn Sơn in the 1930s included Phạm Văn Đồng and Lê Đức Thọ.
Not far from the prison is Hàng Dương Cemetery, where some of the prisoners were buried. During the Vietnam War, prisoners, held at the prison in the 1960s were abused and tortured. In July 1970, two U. S. Congressional representatives, Augustus Hawkins and William Anderson, visited the prison, they were accompanied by Tom Harkin, translator Don Luce, USAID Office of Public Safety Director Frank Walton. When the delegation arrived at the prison, they departed from the planned tour, guided by a map drawn by a former detainee; the map led to the door of a building, opened from the inside by a guard when he heard the people outside the door talking. Inside they found prisoners were being shackled within cramped "tiger cages". Prisoners began crying out for water, they had sores and bruises, some were mutilated. Harkin took photos of the scene; the photos were published in Life magazine on July 17, 1970. Recreations of tiger cages can be seen today at the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh City. In response, Phil Crane, a Republican from Illinois, visited Côn Sơn and stated that the visit and photos were "distortions of truth."
The tiger cages, he said, were "cleaner than the average Vietnamese home."The prison on Côn Sơn Island was closed in 1975 after the Fall of Saigon. The facilities were reopened some years however, to temporarily incarcerate boat people captured by local coast guards until the late 1980s. At the request of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the U. S. Coast Guard started pre-construction plans for a chain of Loran-C radio stations to serve Southeast Asia 15 January 1966 in support of Operation Tight Reign during the Vietnam War; the actual construction of Station Con Son began during April with the delivery of construction materials by USCGC Nettle and award of construction contracts to Morrison-Knudsen Corp. and Brown and Root Company. Station Con Son was designated SH-3 Yankee, it consisted of a 625 foot tower, transmitter equipment buildings, fuel tanks and barracks for personnel located on the north end of Con Son Island. The personnel complement for the station was 23 enlisted men. After commissioning on 2 September 1966 the station began the testing phase of operations and the five station chain was operational by 0400 on 28 October, just nine months after the initial request from the Department of Defense.
The station provided, along with its sister stations in the chain, signals that allowed aircraft and ships to receive accurate all-weather positioning data for navigation purposes. During January 1973 the operation of the station was turned over to civilian contractors who were responsible to the United States Coast Guard for all functions of the station; the Coast Guard continued to supply technical support on an as needed basis. When the fall of the South Vietnamese government was imminent, Station Con Son was directed to stay on the air until the last possible minute to provide navigation signals to aircraft and ships fleeing South Vietnam. Station Con Son stayed on the air until 1246 local time on 29 April 1975 after the crew oversped the generators and damaged critical pieces of electronic gear. Citations References cited Brown and Don Luce. Hostages of War. Indochina Mobile Education Project. Valentine, Douglas; the Phoenix Program. Backinprint.com. ISBN 978-0-595-00738-7; the Con Dao Archipelago The Tiger Cages of Con Son THEN THE AMERICANS CAME – Mrs. Truong My Hoa The Kun Lun Shan islands are shown on sheet 11 of the Mao Kun map Wu Bei Zhi at the Library of Congress
Nguyễn Văn Linh
Nguyễn Văn Linh was a Vietnamese revolutionary and politician. Nguyễn Văn Linh was the general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam from 1986 to 1991 and a political leader of the Vietcong during the Vietnam War. During his time in office, Linh was a strong advocate of "Đổi Mới", an economic plan whose aim is to turn Vietnam economy to a socialist-oriented market economy; as such, Linh was touted as the Vietnamese Gorbachev after the Soviet leader, who introduced Perestroika. Nguyễn Văn Linh was born in Hưng Yên on 1 July 1915, his original name was Nguyễn Văn Cúc, he would adopt Nguyễn Văn Linh as his nom de guerre. At age 14, Linh became involved in underground communist movement against French colonial rule, joining the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union. In 1930 at the age of sixteen, Linh was arrested and incarcerated until 1936 for distributing leaflets directed against the French. After his release, he joined the Communist Party of Vietnam, he was sent to Saigon, in the southern part of the country to help establish party cells, causing him to be detained again from 1941 to 1945.
In 1945, Vietnam declared its independence from French rule and the First Indochina War ensued. Meanwhile, Linh rose in the party hierarchy becoming a member of the Central Committee in 1960. During the Vietnam War, Nguyễn Văn Linh was the party secretary for the Vietcong in South Vietnam, which had seen him direct the guerrilla resistance against the American-allied government there, but most of his duties were organizational rather than military, he specialised in propaganda and attempting to influence American politics in favour of North Vietnam. He trained special undercover Vietcong spies. In 1968, Linh directed the Tet Offensive against South Vietnam; this surprise attack throughout most South Vietnamese towns and cities was a turning point of the Vietnam War. After the end of the Vietnam War and the re-unification of Vietnam in 1975, Linh was inducted to the Communist Party's Politburo and became party chief of the capital Saigon, he favoured a slow transformation of the capitalist southern part of the country causing him to come into conflict with his party colleagues.
In the late 1970s, though considered a promising party politician, he had repeated arguments with Lê Duẩn, Ho Chi Minh's successor as party leader, preventing him from rising further in the hierarchy. In 1982, he was removed from the Politburo. According to his friends, Linh resigned after an argument over the future of South Vietnam, in which he defended private capital. In the mid-1980s the Vietnamese economy experienced crisis, making a more liberal, market-based economy more of a sensible option to many politicians; this led to Linh's being re-instated in the Politburo in 1985, under the direction of General Secretary Trường Chinh draft political report and being made party general secretary the following year. He started reforming Vietnam's economy, he was elected General Secretary in the immediate aftermath of the 6th National Congress. Renouncing the ideological decisions that he claimed had caused the problems, he allowed private enterprise and market prices and disbanded agricultural collectives.
This change in policy was dubbed a Vietnamese term meaning renovation. In the political sphere, Linh tried to improve relations with China. In 1990, he secretly visited China, becoming the first Vietnamese leader to do so since the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War. In 1989, he ordered the withdrawal of Vietnamese troops from Cambodia, where they had been sent to remove Pol Pot's Khmer Rouge regime. However, as far as domestic policy is concerned, Linh felt. "It is not objectively necessary to establish a political mechanism of pluralism and multiparty government," he stated, while always referring to Western-style democratic systems as "demagogic bourgeois democracies". He criticised the old communist policies. Thus, Linh's policies were the constant target of criticism from the more conservative elements in the Communist Party. Linh stepped down as party leader in 1991 at the 7th National Congress, having announced his withdrawal a year before, his poor health was cited as the cause, as he had been hospitalised for what is suspected to have been a stroke in 1989, but political rivalries also played into his decision.
He was succeeded by a supporter of Linh's reforms. He was Advisor of the Party's Central Committee from 1991 to December 1997. Starting with a surprising speech at the 7th National Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam and series of letters to the country's newspapers, Linh renounced the effects of his own policies, accusing foreign investors of exploiting his native country and harming socialism, he attacked the growing gap between the rich and the poor and accused American companies of dumping goods on the country rather than helping it with investments and technology. He wrote a regular newspaper column called "Things That Must Be Done Immediately" attacking corruption and incompetence among the Vietnamese political elite. Linh died of liver cancer on 27 April 1998, in Ho Chi Minh City, he was 82. Contributions to Vietnam: Nguyễn Văn Linh had charted the evolution of the reforms of the party organization. Scholars argue that Linh’s contributions and importance in reform gave a detailed and clear analysis of his program to reform the Vietnam communist party within the wider context of Đổi Mới. Linh showed flexibility and adaptability with an inclination for the unorthodox spin to policy making.
Scholars like Stern see that Linh relied less on mobilizational i
Ho Chi Minh
Hồ Chí Minh, born Nguyễn Sinh Cung known as Nguyễn Tất Thành, Nguyễn Ái Quốc, Bác Hồ or Bác, was a Vietnamese Communist revolutionary leader, Chairman and First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Vietnam. He was Prime Minister and President of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, he was a key figure in the foundation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 at the Ba Dinh Square in Hanoi as well as the People's Army of Vietnam and the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. Hồ Chí Minh led the Việt Minh independence movement from 1941 onward, establishing the Communist-ruled Democratic Republic of Vietnam in 1945 and defeating the French Union in 1954 at the battle of Điện Biên Phủ, he stepped down from power in 1965 due to health problems. After the war, the former capital of the Republic of Vietnam, was renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Any description of Hồ Chí Minh's life before he came to power in Vietnam is fraught with ambiguity, he is known to have used at least 50 and as many as 200 pseudonyms.
Both his place and date of birth are subjects of academic debate since neither is known with certainty. At least four existing official biographies vary on names, dates and other hard facts while unofficial biographies vary more widely. Hồ Chí Minh was born and given the name of Nguyễn Sinh Cung in 1890 in the village of Hoàng Trù, his mother's village. Although this is his accepted birth year, at various times he used five different birth years: 1890, 1891, 1892, 1894 and 1895. From 1895, he grew up in his father Nguyễn Sinh Sắc's village of Làng Sen, Kim Liên, Nam Đàn, Nghệ An Province, he had three siblings: a clerk in the French Army. As a young child, Cung studied with his father before more formal classes with a scholar named Vuong Thuc Do. Cung mastered Chinese writing, a prerequisite for any serious study of Confucianism, while honing his colloquial Vietnamese writing. In addition to his studious endeavors, he was fond of adventure and loved to fly kites and go fishing. Following Confucian tradition, his father gave him a new name at the age of 10: Nguyễn Tất Thành.
Thành's father was a Confucian scholar and teacher and an imperial magistrate in the small remote district of Binh Khe. He was demoted for abuse of power after an influential local figure died several days after having received 102 strokes of the cane as punishment for an infraction. Thành's father was eligible to serve in the imperial bureaucracy, but he refused because it meant serving the French; this exposed Thành to rebellion at a young age and seemed to be the norm for the province where Thành came of age. In deference to his father, Thành received a French education, attended lycée in Huế, the alma mater of his disciples, Phạm Văn Đồng and Võ Nguyên Giáp and his enemy, Ngô Đình Diệm, it was believed that Thành was involved in an anti-slavery demonstration of poor peasants in Huế in May 1908, which endangered his student status at Collège Quốc học. However, a document from the Centre des archives d'Outre-mer in France shows that he was admitted to Collège Quốc học on 8 August 1908, several months after the anti-corvée demonstration.
The exaggeration of revolutionary credentials was common among Vietnamese Communist leaders, as shown in North Vietnamese President Tôn Đức Thắng's falsified participation in the 1919 Black Sea revolt. In life, he would claim the 1908 revolt had been the moment when his revolutionary outlook emerged, but his application to the French Colonial Administrative School in 1911 undermines this version of events, he chose to leave school. Because his father had been dismissed, he no longer had any hope for a governmental scholarship and went southward, taking a position at Dục Thanh school in Phan Thiết for about six months traveled to Saigon. Thành worked as a kitchen helper on a French steamer, the Amirale de Latouche-Tréville while using the alias Văn Ba; the steamer departed on 5 June 1911 and arrived in Marseille, France on 5 July 1911. The ship left for Le Havre and Dunkirk, returning to Marseille in mid-September. There, he applied for the French Colonial Administrative School, but his application was rejected and he instead decided to begin traveling the world by working on ships and visited many countries from 1911 to 1917.
While working as the cook's helper on a ship in 1912, Thành traveled to the United States. From 1912–1913, he may have lived in New York City and Boston, where he claimed to have worked as a baker at the Parker House Hotel; the only evidence that Thành was in the United States is a letter to French colonial administrators dated 15 December 1912 and postmarked New York City and a postcard to Phan Chu Trinh in Paris where he mentioned working at the Parker House Hotel. Inquiries to the Parker House management revealed no records of his having worked there. Among a series of menial jobs, he claimed to have worked for a wealthy family in Brooklyn between 1917–1918 and for General Motors as a line manager, it is believed that while in the United States he made contact with Korean nationalists, an experience that developed his polit
Battle of Dien Bien Phu
The Battle of Dien Bien Phu was the climactic confrontation of the First Indochina War between the French Union's French Far East Expeditionary Corps and Viet Minh communist revolutionaries. It was, from the French view before the event, a set piece battle to draw out the Vietnamese and destroy them with superior firepower; the battle occurred between March and May 1954 and culminated in a comprehensive French defeat that influenced negotiations underway at Geneva among several nations over the future of Indochina. As a result of blunders in French decision-making, the French began an operation to insert support, the soldiers at Điện Biên Phủ, deep in the hills of northwestern Vietnam; the operation's purpose was to cut off Viet Minh supply lines into the neighboring Kingdom of Laos, draw the Viet Minh into a major confrontation in order to cripple them. The plan was to resupply the French position by air, was based on the belief that the Viet Minh had no anti-aircraft capability; the Viet Minh, under General Võ Nguyên Giáp, surrounded and besieged the French.
The Viet Minh brought in vast amounts of heavy artillery. They managed to move these bulky weapons through difficult terrain up the rear slopes of the mountains surrounding the French positions, dig tunnels through the mountain, emplace the artillery pieces overlooking the French encampment; this strategic positioning of the artillery made it nearly impervious to French counter-battery fire. The Viet Minh opened fire with a massive artillery bombardment in March. After several days the French artillery commander, Charles Piroth, unable to respond with any effective counter-battery fire, committed suicide; the Viet Minh bombarded the French positions. Tenacious fighting on the ground ensued, reminiscent of the trench warfare of World War I; the French repulsed Viet Minh assaults on their positions. Supplies and reinforcements were delivered by air, though as the key French positions were overrun, the French perimeter contracted and the air resupply on which the French had placed their hopes became impossible.
As the Viet Minh antiaircraft fire took its toll and fewer of those supplies reached the French. The garrison was overrun in May after a two-month siege, most of the French forces surrendered. A few of them escaped to Laos; the French government in Paris resigned, the new Prime Minister, the left-of-centre Pierre Mendès France, supported French withdrawal from Indochina. The war ended shortly after the signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords. France agreed to withdraw its forces from all its colonies in French Indochina, while stipulating that Vietnam would be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel, with control of the north given to the Viet Minh as the Democratic Republic of Vietnam under Ho Chi Minh, the south becoming the State of Vietnam, nominally under Emperor Bảo Đại, preventing Ho Chi Minh from gaining control of the entire country; the refusal of Ngô Đình Diệm to allow elections in 1956, as had been stipulated by the Geneva Conference led to the Vietnam War. By 1953, the First Indochina War was not going well for France.
A succession of commanders – Philippe Leclerc de Hauteclocque, Jean Étienne Valluy, Roger Blaizot, Marcel Carpentier, Jean de Lattre de Tassigny, Raoul Salan – had proven incapable of suppressing the insurrection of the Viet Minh fighting for independence. During their 1952–53 campaign, the Viet Minh had overrun vast swathes of Laos, a French ally and Vietnam's western neighbor, advancing as far as Luang Prabang and the Plain of Jars; the French were unable to slow the Viet Minh advance, who fell back only after outrunning their always-tenuous supply lines. In 1953, the French had begun to strengthen their defenses in the Hanoi delta region to prepare for a series of offensives against Viet Minh staging areas in northwest Vietnam, they set up fortified towns and outposts in the area, including Lai Châu near the Chinese border to the north, Nà Sản to the west of Hanoi, the Plain of Jars in northern Laos. In May 1953, French Premier René Mayer appointed Henri Navarre, a trusted colleague, to take command of French Union Forces in Indochina.
Mayer had given Navarre a single order—to create military conditions that would lead to an "honorable political solution". According to military scholar Phillip Davidson, On arrival, Navarre was shocked by. There had been no long-range plan since de Lattre's departure. Everything was conducted on a reactive basis. Combat operations were undertaken only in response to enemy threats. There was no comprehensive plan to develop the organization and build up the equipment of the Expeditionary force. Navarre, the intellectual, the cold and professional soldier, was shocked by the "school's out" attitude of Salan and his senior commanders and staff officers, they were going home, not as victors or heroes, but not as clear losers either. To them the important thing was that they were getting out of Indochina with their reputations frayed, but intact, they gave concern for, the problems of their successors. Navarre had been searching for a way to stop the Viet Minh threat to Laos. Colonel Louis Berteil, commander of Mobile Group 7 and Navarre's main planner, formulated the hérisson concept.
The French army would establish a fortified airhead by airlifting soldiers adjacent to a key Viet Minh supply line to Laos. They would cut off Viet Minh soldiers fighting in Laos and force them to