Q. Why did the French loose the war in Vietnam?
In April of 1956 the last remaining French troops would leave Vietnam. After over 200 years of influence and rule, the French at last realized that the occupation and control of Vietnam was an unreachable goal. In consideration of the many blunders (both militarily and political) , and the outright ignorance of the French high command, any efforts to stabilize Vietnamese nationalism and to maintain french rule over Vietnam were thwarted. Thus the French were defeated by an inferior force, and the question of how such an anomaly could occur lies within the 200 years of rule, and the many mistakes made through out way.
To completely understand how France could be defeated by a simple army of Vietnamese peasants, one must first acknowledge a brief history of the Franco-Vietnamese relationship. French Jesuits first arrived in Vietnam in 1634, in hopes of bringing over “souls” to the catholic church. The majority of Vietnamese are Buddhist, and many locals opposed the presence of the French. By the mid 1700's France would sign a treaty with the Vietnamese gaining protection for the Jesuits in return for French assistance in helping the Vietnamese fight their Chinese invaders. With the rest of Europe carving up the world in the mid 1800's, France now looked to Vietnam as an extension of its Empire. A successful invasion of Vietnam in 1859 gave the french control over Saigon. The invasion was in response to the murder of French Catholics, and looked to be for a time a just cause. However it was just a cover story for the French to settle in and eventually rape Vietnam of it’s raw materials and its culture. Thus from 1861 to the birth of Ho Chi Minh in 1890, French troops would conquer most of what is modern day Vietnam to their own discretion. The discretion of the French must be noted as racially bias. The term “white man’s burden,” best describes the presence of the French in Vietnam from the period of 1890-1939. Essentially the french believed everything about them was superior to the Vietnamese. Culture, language, religion, and race. This would not settle to well with many Vietnamese, however things would turn worse for the French with the outbreak of WWII.
I would like to argue that the true beginning of the end of French rule over Vietnam begins with the Second World War. Many Vietnamese nationalist uprisings were put down with success by the French. When Nazi Germany invaded and conquered France in 1940, the puppet Vichy French government was established. The vichy French government signed a peace treaty with the Japanese later that year in 1940, giving Japan control over Vietnam. Japan had been fighting an aggressive land war against the Chinese. Japan was looking to exercise its own ambitions of an empire as they tried to conquer all of South East Asia. Vietnam was a...