Why Were The French Unable To Defeat The Viet Minh In The First Indo China War?

1857 words - 7 pages

The French lost the First Indochina for a variety of reasons, such as the inability to match the Vietnamese War machine, lack of vision regarding the end of colonialism and independence for Vietnam, and finally the disaster which was Dien Bien Phu and the reaction at home.The French had controlled the country from the 1850's up until 1940 when during WWII Japan moved into Indochina, taking control of the country, but leaving it under the rule of the French. In 1945 Japan looked as if it was defeated and so announced Independence for Vietnam. The French were now intending to reclaim territory which they considered rightfully theirs as colonial land, using their conventional, modern day military system which had won the Allies World War I.The Vietnamese, for the best part of the conflict represented by the Viet Minh were tired of Colonial oppression, and following Japans announcement on an Independent State of Vietnam, The Viet Minh, under the leadership of Ho Chi Minh were quick to announce themselves as the rulers of the newly formed "Democratic Republic of Vietnam". During Japans occupation of Vietnam the Viet Minh had been creating a political and social structure in the North of the Country to deliberately resist the inevitable return of the French to reclaim what they considered rightfully theirs. In comparison to Frances army, the Viet Minh appeared to be a far more primitive army, using older weapons, but that didn't mean they were going to lose the war.Initially, the French moved into Vietnam with assistance from Britain and China to disarm the Japanese. However in the North the Chinese didn't recognise French Colonialism in Asia, so on top of disarming the Japanese the Chinese also armed the Viet Minh, preparing them for a conflict with the French which was seemingly unavoidable. However there was a chance when Ho Chi Minh visited France to discuss creating an independent State; however France in a political sense was in ruins, with change of governments occurring regularly, so nothing was ever achieved. Ho Chi Minh later returned to Vietnam determined to secure Independence, by force if necessary.In the following weeks tension rose between the Viet Minh and the French, but finally on 20th of November 1946 the French stopped a vessel with Oil intended for the Viet Minh, in response to this the Viet Minh launched attacks on French Soldiers, at which point the French issued an order to subdue the Viet Minh using "all the means at your disposal".Following this the French took control of the Northern city Haiphong, at the cost of thousands of Civilian lives. However, the French did manage to push the Viet Minh out of the urban areas of the North, forcing them to retreat into the Mountainous areas that boarded China, later on though this was going to prove to be a large problem for the French in their pursuit of the Viet Minh.The country side was where the Viet Minh were at their strongest. Not only had they managed to achieve the support of...

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