Did the U.S. “Lose” Ho Chi Minh to Communism?
28/08/2012 1 comentario
The principal architect of Vietnam’s military victories over France and the United States turned 102 the other day, and the old general, Vo Nguyen Giap, while frail, is said to be holding his own. He had a firm handshake and a ready smile when I interviewed him 10 years ago in Hanoi, and he talked easily about the “American War,” about his legendary battles at Dien Bien Phu and Khe Sanh, and about Ho Chi Minh. It was hard for foreign journalists to get an audience with General Giap, but he agreed when I said I brought greetings from Maj. Allison Kent Thomas, American major who had parachuted into General Giap’s jungle camp in 1945 to help train his fledgling Viet Minh guerrilla army. The major’s younger son and I were friends from university, and I had been allowed to read his father’s diaries and personal wartime letters. All three men, Thomas, Giap and Ho, receive detailed and scholarly attention in a new account (published last week) of the beginnings of the Vietnam War, “Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and Making of America’s Vietnam,” by Cornell University professor and historian Frederik Logevall. A review by Lawrence D. Freedman in Foreign Affairs calls book “magisterial.” Logevall addresses the nagging historical question: Was Ho Chi Minh a resolute communist from his very beginnings, or was he a nationalist and freedom fighter who eventually moved toward socialism? The subtext to the question, of course, is whether United States, with some more prescient diplomacy, might have struck an alliance with Ho and avoided the horrific quagmire of the Vietnam War. Mr. Logevall, in a recent interview with Jeff Glor of CBS, said that Ho “saw communism as the best path of development for his country, but it was always his country.” Independence from the Japanese invaders and French colonialists was his original intent, highest priority and enduring goal. “Ho emerges as an unexpected hero in this balanced book, first seen trying to buttonhole Woodrow Wilson at the Paris peace conference of 1919,” says a new review in The Economist. “But gradually he and his fellow North Vietnamese were viewed as agents of the international communism, not admirable rebels against colonialism. Logevall bemoans fact Ho’s admiration for American political ideals and French culture did not lead to a life-sparing compromise”. Ho was clearly admiring of the Americans in 1945, and he actively sought their help. As a sweetener, he had allowed some of the men under General Giap to rescue downed American pilots (…..)