Archives par mot-clé : Vietnam War

L’année 1972 vue « d’en bas » – Traces et mémoires de neuf mois de bombardements sur Hanoi

Table-ronde organisée et animée par Olivier Tessier (EFEO) – 08 nov. 2012 – 18h00 – Auditorium de L’Espace à Hanoi

Participants : Mme Huyen Mermet (Dao Thanh Huyen) et M. Dang Duc Tue, jour­na­lis­tes et co-auteurs de « Dien Bien Phu vu d’enface » (Paris, Nouveau Monde éditions, 2010).

L’ate­lier por­tera sur la vie des habi­tants de Hanoi et du Nord Vietnam (RDVN) pen­dant la guerre du Vietnam. Ce tra­vail est le fruit d’une enquête de terrain réalisée sur près de 100 témoins ayant vécu les 12 jours et nuits de bom­bar­de­ments aériens à Hanoi en 1972.

Traduction simultanée
Entrée libre

* * *

Vivre et mourir à Hanoi en 1972

Exposition organisée et coordonnée par Olivier Tessier (EFEO) – 11 oct./09 nov. 2012 – Hall d’exposition de L’Espace

La vie quotidienne à Hanoi sous les bombes en 1972.

L’Exposition vous présente aussi chronologiquement l’enchaînement des phases de bombardements (cibles stratégiques, forces aériennes engagées, destructions et victimes civiles et militaires) ainsi que le processus des négociations parallèles.

Vernissage :
11.10 – 18h00
Exposition :
11.10>09.11

Entrée libre

Pour voir le programme, double clic sur l’image ci-dessous.

Séminaire “Mémoires d’Indochine” : Séance 4

Année universitaire 2012-2013 / Master Asie Orientale Contemporaine (ASIOC) / Semestre 1

 

Mémoires d’Indochine :

Regards internes sur la décolonisation et la guerre

au Viêt-Nam, Laos et Cambodge

 

Séance 4 – vendredi 19 octobre 2012

« Expériences de guerres en Indochine »

(1945-1993)

 

Cette séance sera consacrée aux multiples expériences de guerre en Indochine : guerre urbaine, jungle, guérilla, mobilisation, corps en situation, comportements et psychologie des combattants. A l’appui de deux exemples très différents, la guerre du Viêt-Nam vue du Nord et du Sud, vue de la jungle ou de la ville, sera questionnée.

 

Extraits de textes à discuter :

  • LE CAO DAI, C’était au Tây Nguyên. Journal de guerre d’un chirurgien nord-vietnamien 1965-1973 , Hanoi, Editions The Gioi, 2006, ch. III (pp. 75-123) [+ dos de couverture]. Traduction de Nguyen Thi Nga avec la participation de Pierre Darruillat.
  • NHA CA, Les canons tonnent la nuit, Arles, Editions Philippe Picquier, 1997, pp. 13-22, 103-111, 129-150 [+ dos de couverture]. Roman traduit du vietnamien par Liêu Truong.

 

* * *

Exposés oraux :

 

Pour aller plus loin dans la réflexion :

  • Audoin-Rouzeau, Stéphane, Combattre. Une anthropologie historique de la guerre moderne (XIXe- XXIe siècles), Paris, Editions du Seuil, Les livres du nouveau monde, 2008.
  • Capdevilla, Luc & al., Hommes et femmes dans la France en guerre (1914-1945), Paris, Editions Payot & Rivages, 2003. (de Luc Capdevilla, François Rouquet, Fabrice Virgili et Danièle Voldman).

Ha Mai Viet : Steel and Blood – South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia [2] – two book reviews

Ha Mai Viet, Steel and Blood: South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia, Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2008, 459 p.

Book Review by LtCol Raymond A. Stewart, USMC (Ret).

 

Colonel Ha Mai Viet provides his meticulously researched, impressively written and well-presented book about South Vietnam tanks in “Steel and Blood.” The author details the combat history of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Armor (AF) from “Ferocious Battles, 1963-68” through “Vietnamization, 1969-74” to the final days of the Republic in 1975—“The Capture of South Vietnam.” His is a riveting account of tank battle after tank battle, pitting the ARVNAF’s M41 and M48 tanks against the NVA enemy’s T54, T59, T34 and PT76 tanks.

Somewhat of a surprise to a Marine Corps Vietnam tanker—and possible Army armor as well—and for certain to those who declared that Vietnam was not “tank country” are the numbers and types of armored vehicles employed by both sides and the importance the VC/NVA enemy and ARVN alike placed on the use of armored vehicles in general and tanks specifically. Just one example: By 1975, the NVA had an estimated 600 T54s in or on the border of South Vietnam supplied by large, well-concealed fuel lines with sophisticated pumping and fueling stations that ran through Laos and Cambodia hundreds of kilometers from Haiphong in the north.

In battle after battle, from the Plain of Reeds through the three-front General Offensive and battles for the Central High­lands to the final assault on Saigon itself, Col Ha Mai Viet provides the reader with the often heart-wrenchingly candid and unwashed details of bloody victories and even more horrific defeats. He does not embellish the value of the ARVNAF in its successful fights nor does he minimize the faults of senior leaderships’ failed decisions contributing to catastrophic defeats. The author keeps to the rapid movement of armor and the battles in which tanks participate by extracting related details and placing them in “Notes.” There are 80 pages of notes, which add an impressive dimension of understanding of ARVNAF leadership, or lack of it.

In the second half of the book, the “Mil­itary History” segment, Col Ha Mai Viet’s attention to detail and in-depth research provide the reader the historical background of the ARVN in general terms and, more specifically, trace the establishment, growth and deployment of the armored forces (ARVNAF).

While certainly not the “grabber” that one finds in page after page of Part I, Part II is of significant value in understanding the development, structure, employment, logistics and administration of ARVNAF in terms of equipment. The author provides interesting information on the back­ground and training of the armored personnel and quite candid comments on the ARVNAF leadership.

To follow the battles, I found the paucity of maps—there are just two small-detail maps—made the reading (and enjoyment) of the book somewhat difficult. Also, com­mand structure, order of battle, and table of organization and equipment diagrams would have greatly helped in better understanding of the material.

Col. Ha Mai Viet states unequivocally that South Vietnam could have defeated the VC/NVA on the battlefield had the Uni­ted States made good on its agreement to support the South after the withdrawal of American ground forces.

This thoroughly researched book, a 10-year effort, relies on both personal knowledge and interviews of hundreds of former ARVN as well as VC/NVA soldiers and officers of all ranks and military occupational specialties. To obtain a more balanced view—and with an armored slant—of the war that took more than 58,000 American lives, this book is a highly recommended read.

Source : Leatherneck, magazine of the Marines, Marine Corps Association.

Présentation de l’ouvrage sur U.S. Naval Institute.

* * *

Book Review by Jay Veith.

Of the several thousand tomes published about the Vietnam War, only a few English-language viewpoints written by our Vietnamese allies grace the bookshelves. The South Vietnamese perspective, constrained by cultural and linguistic barriers, is unfortunately marginalized in the war’s literature for Americans. Due to these barriers, U.S. historians, even if interested in South Vietnamese motivations and actions, are left with little except military adviser reports, obscure embassy cables, or shallow news articles. Thus reduced to bit players, the South Vietnamese have become caricatures; either cowardly incompetents or corrupt warlords, with an occasional brave soul or hard-fighting unit briefly mentioned. A more balanced and deeper picture of America’s wartime partner has long been needed.

Former armor Colonel Ha Mai Viet has offered precisely that, a penetrating insight into the battlefield contributions of the South Vietnamese tank officers who fought alongside their American friends. His book details the contributions of a small but influential element of the ARVN, its armor/cavalry forces. Unknown to most, by war’s end the armor branch had grown considerably from its French roots. In 1975, Brigadier General Tran Quang Khoi’s 3rd Armored Cavalry Brigade, the III Corps organic tank unit, was undoubtedly the most powerful brigade-size element in the ARVN. Reflecting a rare combined arms outlook, Khoi built a formidable combat out-fit from previously independent armor, artillery, engineer, and ranger units. His merged brigade was still defending outside of Saigon when the final surrender came.

Viet spent ten years traveling the globe, tracking down and interviewing many of his former comrades-in-arms. He portrays the heroic deeds of his fellow soldiers while unflinchingly condemning South Vietnamese leadership errors. Covering two main topics, Combat and Military History, Viet outlines twenty-three separate battles from the ARVN side. The bulk of the Combat section covers the Tet Offensive, Lam Son 719, the Easter Offensive, and the bloody retreat in 1975 from the Central Highlands. He also provides rich details on unknown battles such as the terrible clash at Dambe in Cambodia in 1971. The Military History part provides unique facts on the formation and growth of the ARVN armor/cavalry branch from 1954 to 1975, including unit commanders, weapons, and organizational structure.

Brilliantly translated, no future work on Vietnam battles will be complete without reviewing this publication. Colonel Viet has provided a tremendous amount of fresh information, almost all of it oral history. That is the strength and weakness of the book. Like all interviews, the ones in this book only provide the participant’s side. For example, the account by Colonel Nguyen Van Dong concerning the Central Highlands retreat, while new and highly informative, perpetuates the myth that Brigadier General Pham Duy Tat, the II Corps Ranger Commander, was responsible for the convoy on Route 7B. Tat, when presented with Dong’s remarks, categorically denied the accusations, a point of view absent from Viet’s book. This is not to cast fault, as Viet was only interested in the stories of his armor colleagues. Yet without access to That’s perspective, the unsuspecting historian would perpetuate the story. Unfortunately, as General Cao Van Vien once told the reviewer, the war remains much like the movie « Rashomon »: the truth is subjective to the individual. Colonel Viet nevertheless deserves enormous credit for his industrious research and fine account. His is a major and much needed addition to the history of the Vietnam War.

Copyright © 2009 Society for Military History
Project MUSE® – View Citation
Réf. :

  • Jay Veith. « Steel and Blood: South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia (review). » The Journal of Military History 73.3 (2009): 1020-1021. Project MUSE. Web. 27 Dec. 2011. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
  •  Veith, J.(2009). Steel and Blood: South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia (review). The Journal of Military History 73(3), 1020-1021. Society for Military History.

Ha Mai Viet : Steel and Blood – South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia [1]

Ha Mai Viet, Steel and Blood: South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia, Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2008, 459 p., $40.00 USD, ISBN: 978-1591149194.

Book Review by Dr J.R. McKay.

 

Ha Mai Viet’s Steel and Blood: South Vietnamese Armor and the War for Southeast Asia is an ambitious work. The author tried to produce both a history of the armoured branch of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam[1] (ARVN) and a history of the armoured branch’s unit’s roles on the ARVN’s battles with the Vietnamese Communist forces. While South Vietnam, and by default the ARVN, and its armoured branch lasted for only twenty years, this was a nation and an army that fought against its enemies for most of that time.[2]

Steel and Blood is effectively two smaller books in one. The first part is a “Combat History” of the armoured branch’s participation in battles as well as a narrative of the war from an ARVN perspective. The second part of the book, “Military History,” is a summary of the organizational history of the South Vietnamese Armor Corps, a compendium of information on that branch and a comparison of its equipment with that of its North Vietnamese counterpart.

The combat history describes a series of battles from 1963 to 1975, based upon ARVN’s battles with the Communists. It starts with an orientation on the role of the armoured branch’s units in a series of battles, but slowly transforms into a general narrative on the progress of the war. Colonel Viet tried to tell the tale of what happened, balancing between what he stated that he sought to do and providing the proverbial “bigger picture.” While this might frustrate some readers, some observations merit mention.

First, one should keep in mind that he has provided a glimpse into a perspective that is often overlooked. The common narrative with regard to the ARVN has been that it was overly oriented on the byzantine politics of Saigon and insufficiently focused on waging counter-insurgency operations until 1968, when the Tet Offensive led to the development of a more combat-oriented ethos. Colonel Viet’s book points out that a number of ARVN units often fought harder than was realized at the time or since despite the political proclivities of some of the ARVN’s general officers.[3]

Second, the author left one with the distinct impression that ARVN units tended to view their advisors less as sources of advice than sources of firepower. One gets the sense that during the earlier years, in some cases, ARVN officers may have resented advice from the technically sound yet less experienced advisors. The perception of advisors as sources of firepower appears to have become more acute after the 1972 Easter Offensive. The Nixon Administration’s policy of “Vietnamization” meant the phased withdrawal of American combat forces and increasingly shifting the burden of combat onto the ARVN. The Nixon Administration could not reverse this trend for domestic political reasons and sought to make greater use of air power as a result. This is a potential lesson for those destined for advisory duties; those being advised may be more interested in one’s capacity to influence the battle than one’s advice on how to do same.

Third, the book leaves one with the distinct impression that as the Communists made the transition from guerrilla warfare to mobile warfare, the importance of ARVN’s armoured branch increased. The early battles described organizations analogous to reconnaissance squadrons conducting economy of force operations against the Viet Cong; the later battles described ARVN tanks duelling with the North Vietnamese counterparts. Indeed, the Communist fielding of T-54 equipped units prompted the ARVN’s fielding of a number of M-48 “Patton” equipped units to cope with the threat. This also supports a broader point about the nature of insurgencies. The endgame of any insurgency is to set the conditions for assuring victory once conventional warfare begins. Colonel Viet’s accounts of battle start with clashes with the Viet Cong guerrillas in the mid 1960s and ends with tank battles between the North Vietnamese Army and the ARVN.

This section of the book, unfortunately, was at times difficult to follow. The author sought to describe both operational and tactical actions without maps, but made references to a series of place names. While there was an appendix providing general maps of South Vietnam and the Ho Chi Minh trail, the inclusion of a series of smaller maps that showed the location and how the battles occurred would have helped clarify the “combat history.” Throughout this section, one was tempted to read the “military history” to get a sense of the evolution of the armoured branch’s organizations before linking it to their combat performance.

The military history was a collection of related topics designed to inform the reader about the war, the armoured branch’s evolution and its equipment. Again, the ARVN perspective was enlightening and it allows one to see the conflict through Vietnamese, albeit Southern, eyes, as opposed to the American or French perspectives. The organizational history began with the Vietnamese National Army of 1950, which was the army raised by the French within Vietnam during the war with the Viet Minh. The ARVN’s armoured branch’s roots lay in the creation of a series of reconnaissance platoons in 1950, which coalesced into companies[4] in 1951, battalions by 1953 and regiments by 1954. After the Vietnamese National Army became the ARVN in 1955, these reconnaissance regiments became armoured cavalry regiments, four armoured regiments, a school and an amphibious group. In this period, they were equipped with Second World War era equipment cast off by the French that had been donated by the United States. During the 1960s, the older equipment was replaced by M113 armoured personnel carriers and M-41 “Bulldog” tanks.[5]

The book describes the 1960s as a developmental period where the armoured branch began to specialize more. Armoured cavalry companies were the most common unit, but the branch also began to field reconnaissance and tank companies as well. Indeed, the book left one with the impression that the ARVN armoured branch fought most frequently as companies within larger entities. Indeed, the ambitious combination of the “combat history” and the “military history” was most useful in illuminating such matters. Colonel Viet followed this discussion of the evolution of the branch’s units with a compendium of facts. This had the effect of breaking a logical sequence of information in order to provide a series of interesting yet esoteric facts. He identified every commander of an ARVN armoured unit from the troop to the brigade level, the surgeons, and provided an account of their reunion at Fort Knox in 2000. Unfortunately, the multiple sources of information made this section, and indeed the book, seem less of a general history than a sourcebook or compendium of facts about the ARVN armoured branch.

Ha Mai Viet was a South Vietnamese Armor corps officer who served for 21 years, retiring as a Colonel. During that time, he had served in a number of different positions within armoured units, but his two most noteworthy positions were as an Assistant Division Commander and as the chief of the Quang Tri province.6 This meant he had fought the Communists for at least twelve years before leaving his country in its final days. His patriotism and pride in his military have been reflected in his writing. In addition, he wrote some of the accounts of specific battles from a personal perspective. Readers should take these points in mind before passing judgement on the book’s value.

Readers may be wondering what value a book about a nation that vanished a quarter century ago may have today. What can the ARVN’s experience tell us today? Is it relevant for the Canadian Forces in the early 21st century? The short answer to such questions is yes; however, this depends upon one’s perspective and interests. Those interested in comparing the evolution of different armoured branches may also wish to read those parts of the book. One should note that the ARVN’s approach to combat development was based upon trial and error in battle; they did not have the luxury of time to consider their organizations in great detail. Furthermore, reading the ARVN perspective may give pause for thought for those destined for advisory duties about what those being advised may be thinking.

Dr J.R. McKay

Endnotes

1. The RVN is better known as South Vietnam.

2. Many readers will no doubt be aware of the American participation in the war, spanning from 1964 to 1973 and the end of the war between North and South Vietnam (1973-1975), however, many may not be aware that South Vietnam had to contend with several armed groups in its infancy in 1955 and coup attempts from within the ARVN. The Communist insurgency began in South Vietnam in 1957 and North Vietnam began to provide support to that insurgency in 1959. A year later, the North Vietnamese sought to see all armed resistance groups in South Vietnam coalesce into the National Liberation Front for South Vietnam (NLF). Readers may recognize the other, slightly inaccurate, name for the NLF—the Viet Cong. The ARVN began fighting [?]

3. There are two examples of this phenomenon. The author defends the actions and decisions of ARVN tactical commanders at the Battle of Ap Bac (January 1963) and the President’s direction that contributed to the disaster in Operation LAM SON 719 (January 1971). For details, see: Ha Mai Viet, former Colonel, ARVN, Steel and Blood: South Vietnamese Armour and the War for Southeast Asia, (Annapolis: U.S. Naval Institute Press, 2008), 16-17 and 84. For examples of the criticism levelled on those two incidents, see: Lieutenant General Phillip B. Davidson, U.S. Army, Retired, Vietnam at War: The History 1946-1975, (Novato: Presidio, 1988), 573-604, and Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam, (New York: Random House, 1988), 203-265.

4. Readers should be aware that due to the influence of the U.S. Army, the ARVN armoured branch used the term “Troop” to describe subunit-sized organizations and the term “Squadron” for unitsized organizations. This review uses the generic Canadian Army terminology of “company” and “battalion.”

5. The M-41 “Bulldog” came into American service during the Korean War and entered ARVN service in 1964. It weighed 24 tons, its main armament was 76 mm, it had 12 to 38 mm of armour, and it could reach speeds of 72 km/h.

6. This province was in Military Region 1 / I Corps Tactical Zone, just south of the Demilitarized Zone. He left South Vietnam in 1975, during the final days of that country.

Source : Canadian Army Journal, Vol. 12.1 Spring 2009, pp. 123-125 (pdf).

© Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, as represented by the Minister of National Defence, 2009

CIA : Opérations Laos – Amerikas geheimer Krieg in Laos

La guerre du Viêt-Nam fut le premier conflit retransmis à la télévision. Pourtant, c’est le Laos voisin qui constitua la cible d’une guerre aérienne interminable et démesurée, devenant le pays le plus bombardé de l’histoire. Cette « guerre secrète », l’opération la plus importante menée par la CIA, reste aujourd’hui encore largement ignorée. Les spécialistes parlent de crimes de guerre et la comparent aux conflits actuels en Irak et en Afghanistan. Dans CIA – Opération Laos, les principaux protagonistes de cette opération (anciens agents de la CIA, pilotes américains, combattants laotiens, reporters de guerre) nous conduisent jusqu’à l’emplacement stratégique du conflit. (tvmag Le Figaro).

Durée : 80min.
Genre : Docu-info – Historique
Origine : Allemagne
Année de réalisation : 2008
Réalisation : Marc Eberle
Rediffusion(s) : 08/04/2012 à 18:55 sur Histoire

La CIA et L’Opération Laos (partie 1)

La CIA et L’Opération Laos (partie 2)

La CIA et L’Opération Laos (partie 3)

La CIA et L’Opération Laos (partie 4)

Séminaire “Mémoires d’Indochine” : Mémento personnalités – séance 3

Mémento Personnalités

Rappel biographique succinct des auteurs et personnalités historiques  évoqués lors de la Séance 3

 

Partie 1 : Les deux Viêt-Nam

Pavillon national de la RDVN
(Nord Viêt-Nam 1945-1975)
Pavillon national de l’Etat du Viêt-Nam
(1948-1955)
et de la République du Viêt-Nam
(Sud Viêt-Nam 1955-1975)

 

Bùi Tín (1927-)

Dissident vietnamien, ancien vice-rédacteur en chef du quotidien du peuple (Nhân Dân, le journal officiel du Parti communiste du Vietnam). Il rejoint le Viet Minh en 1945 et exerce en tant que journaliste pour le journal de l’Armée populaire du Vietnam. Engagé dans l’Armée populaire vietnamienne à l’âge de 18 ans, il est blessé lors de la bataille Dien Bien Phu. Il sert au sein l’état-major de l’armée nord-vietnamienne pendant la guerre du Vietnam et s’occupe de la question des prisonniers de guerre américains. Durant la prise de Saigon le 30 avril 1975, il fait partie de l’unité nord-vietnamienne qui reçoit la reddition de Duong Van Minh, dernier dirigeant de la RVN (Sud). Après la victoire, il perd peu à peu ses illusions face à la corruption d’après-guerre et l’isolement de la RSVN. En 1990, Bui Tin quitte le Vietnam pour vivre en exil à Paris et exprimer publiquement ses critiques vis-à-vis du régime. A partir de novembre 1991, il intervient dans le débat sur les MIA-POW. Il publie plusieurs ouvrages en vietnamien qui font sensation dans lequel il dénonce l’appareil totalitaire communiste. Il publie en anglais deux ouvrages importants : Following Ho Chi Minh: The Memoirs of a North Vietnamese Colonel (University of Hawaii Press, 1995) et From Enemy To Friend: A North Vietnamese Perspective on the War (US Naval Institute Press, 2002). Il continue aujourd’hui à donner son avis sur l’évolution du Vietnam à travers son propre blog sur VOA.

David Lan Pham (1940-)

David Lan Pham est né à Thu Dau Mot dans la province de Binh Duong au Sud du Vietnam. Diplômé de l’Université de Saigon, il a enseigné l’histoire et a eu de multiples activités culturelles et journalistiques au Sud-Vietnam avant 1975. Il a exercé diverses fonctions de direction en tant que Secrétaire général des enseignants vietnamiens de l’Association des Enseignants d’Histoire et de Géographie, secrétaire général de l’Association de la Bibliothèque nationale vietnamienne, Conseiller à la Confédération Vietnamienne Travail (CVT) de Binh Duong et conseiller d’une Ecole bouddhiste à Binh Duong. Il quitte le pays clandestinement avec son fils et ses deux frères en 1986. Il publie en 2000 un récit de vie dans lesquel il rend compte de la vie sociale et politique vietnamienne sur quatre décennies de guerre civile. Il publie également d’autres ouvrages dont une biographie d’Ho Chi Minh en 2007. Aux Etats-Unis, il a travaillé pour le programme des réfugiés en Alabama et a créé le Bulletin bilingue / Tin Viet et Dac San Que Huong. Pour ses activités éducatives et sociales auprès des réfugiés il est cité dans plusieurs répertoires biographiques. Il vit actuellement à Toledo, dans l’Ohio.

* * *

Ngô Đình Diệm (1901-1963)

Mandarin nationaliste et catholique, originaire de Huê. Ministre de l’empereur Bao Dai en 1932, démissionne en 1933. Il se rend aux Etats-Unis au début des années cinquante. De retour au Viêt-Nam, il prend la direction du dernier gouvernement de Bao Dai en juin 1954. Un an plus tard à la suite d’un référendum populaire douteux, il devient Chef d’Etat de la Première République du Viêt-Nam (1955-1963) qu’il fonde le 26 octobre 1955. Il met en place une politique anticommuniste autoritaire avec les Agrovilles en 1959 et les Hameaux stratégiques en 1961. Très contesté au sein même du camp nationaliste, il est assassiné en novembre 1963 avec son frère Nhu à la suite de la violente crise bouddhiste. Sa diparition plonge le Sud Viêt-Nam dans une période de chaos et de troubles politiques pendant trois ans. Pour une biographie plus complète voir Ngo Dinh Diem (par Kelsey Leonard – Cold War Museum).

Thích Quảng Đức (1897-1963)

Vénérable bouddhiste, né Lâm Văn Tức en 1897, originaire de la province de Khanh Hoa au centre. Pratiquant dès l’âge de 7 ans, il consacre sa vie à l’étude du bouddhisme. Moine à 20 ans, il s’isole lors d’une retraite de trois ans après son ordination. Il s’immole par le feu à Saigon le 11 juin 1963 pour s’opposer à la politique répressive du gouvernement de Ngô Đình Diệm contre les bouddhistes. L’image de cette immolation (Malcom Browne, prix Pulitzer et 1963),  fera le tour du monde et précipitera la chute du clan des Ngo et de l’appareil diemiste. Par ce geste, Thich Quang Duc est depuis devenu une icône internationale.

Trường Chinh (Đặng Xuân Khu, 1907-1988)

Dirigeant communiste, principal théoricien du parti. Secrétaire général du PCI à partir de mai 1941 puis du Lao Động entre 1951 et 1956. Auteur du célèbre texte La résistance vaincra, regroupant une série d’articles parus à l’origine dans la revue du parti Su That (La Vérité) du 4 mars au 1er août 1947. Pro-chinois, il est le maître d’œuvre de la réforme agraire radicale avant d’être écarté de la direction du parti. Président de l’Assemblée nationale de la RDVN en 1960. Chef de l’Etat de la RSVN de juillet 1981 à juin 1987. Incarne la ligne dure du PCV et la ligne maoïste dans les années soixante. Paradoxalement, il est favorable aux réformes du Doi Moi en 1986 à la fin de sa vie.

 

 

Partie 2 : Mouvements de résistance

Le FULRO

Pavillon du Front de Libération du Champa
Pavillon du Front de Libération des Hauts Plateaux Montagnards
(Flag by Chrystian Kretowicz)
Pavillon du FULRO
(Front Unifié de Lutte des Races Opprimées)

 

Lès Kosem (?-1976)

Officier militaire cambodgien d’origine Cham, connu sous le nom de guerre « Po Nagar », et figure marquante de la Deuxième Guerre d’Indochine. Parachutiste dans l’Armée royale cambodgienne, il fonde le Front de Libération du Champa dans les années 1950. Son organisation rejoint le front de résistance montagnarde FULRO (Front Unifié de Lutte des Races Opprimées) créé le 20 septembre 1964. Il se sépare du FULRO en 1968 après un désaccord avec Y Bham Enuol, le leader du Front. Lié aux services secrets cambodgiens, Les Kosem est impliqué dans le trafic d’armes avec les Nord-Vietnamiens. Après le renversement de Sihanouk en 1970, il devient un fervent partisan de Lon Nol et reçoit le grade de général des Forces Armées Nationales Khmères (FANK). A la victoire des Khmers rouges en avril 1975, il se serait réfugié en Malaisie où il décède un an plus tard.

Y Bham Enuol (1923-1975)

Résistant montagnard d’origine E-Dhe (Radhé), il fonde et dirige plusieurs mouvements armés montagnards. Au mois de mai 1958, il créé le front Bajaraka mais il est arrêté en septembre par le régime de Ngo Dinh Diem et reste emprisonné jusqu’à la chute de Diem. En mars 1964, il fonde le Front de Libération des Hauts Plateaux Montagnard, front qui intègre le FULRO (Front Unifié de Lutte des Races Opprimées) créé le 20 septembre 1964 dont il prend la direction. Pour divergence de stratégie, il est arrêté par Les Kosem, un des leaders cambodgien du Front. Il est assigné à résidence à Phnom Penh jusqu’à sa mort en avril 1975 où il est exécuté par les Khmers rouges avec sa famille.

 * * *

Le FNL Sud-Vietnam

Pavillon du Front national pour la libération du Sud-Viêt Nam (FNL-Sud VN 1960-1975)

 

Nguyen Huu Tho,  (born July 10, 1910, Cho Lon, southern Vietnam—died Dec. 24, 1996, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam), chairman of the National Liberation Front (NLF), the South Vietnamese political organization formed in 1960 in opposition to the U.S.-backed Saigon government.

The son of a rubber-plantation manager who was later killed during the First Indochina War (1946–54), Nguyen Huu Tho studied law in Paris in the 1930s. Returning to Saigon, he set up practice, remaining politically inactive until 1949, when he led student demonstrations against the French; he also organized protests in 1950 against the patrolling of the southern Vietnamese coast by U.S. warships. He was imprisoned and won popular acclaim for his prolonged hunger strike in protest of the war.

After the Geneva Agreements had divided Vietnam into northern and southern zones in 1954, Tho cooperated with the southern regime of Ngo Dinh Diem until he was arrested for advocating nationwide elections on reunification. Except for a short interval in 1958, Tho remained in prison from 1954 to 1961, when he escaped with the aid of some of his anti-Diem followers. These men, who had recently formed the National Liberation Front, made Tho, a noncommunist, provisional and then full-time chairman of the NLF.

Tho essentially served as a figurehead leader, while real power in the NLF was held by its military arm, the Viet Cong, and by veteran communists who reported directly to the North Vietnamese leadership. Tho helped attract a wide spectrum of South Vietnamese supporters to the NLF. In June 1969 the NLF established a Provisional Revolutionary Government (PRG) with Huynh Tan Phat as president and Nguyen Huu Tho as chairman of its advisory council. The PRG, in effect, became the government of South Vietnam in April 1975, when the Saigon government’s troops surrendered to the North Vietnamese and PRG forces. Tho was made a vice president of Vietnam in 1976, a post he held until 1980, when he became acting president. In 1981 Tho was made vice president of the Council of State, as well as chairman of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly. (source : Encyclopedia Britannica).

Book Review by Kathryn C. Statler: Triumph Imagined

Moyar, Mark, Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006, xxiii+416 p.

Book Review by Kathryn C. Statler:

Triumph Imagined

In The Man in the High Castle, novelist Philip K. Dick presents an alternate outcome to World War II by envisioning a world in which the Axis powers won the war. Dick’s classic came to mind after reading Mark Moyar’s Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965, as both books offer lessons on history, truth, and interpretation. In the first of a two-volume project, Moyar attempts a new look at the evolution of American intervention in Vietnam from South Vietnamese Premier Ngo Dinh Diem’s 1954 assumption of power to Lyndon B. Johnson’s 1965 decision to send combat troops to South Vietnam. Opening with a brief sketch of Vietnamese history, Moyar then traces the development of South and North Vietnam as Saigon (with U.S. support) and Hanoi (backed by the USSR and China) attempted to outmaneuver one another politically and militarily. As his narrative unfolds, Moyar challenges scholars of the Vietnam War to question earlier assumptions and knowledge about North Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh’s nationalist credentials, Diem’s ineptitude, the accuracy of prominent American journalists, the Buddhist protest movement, Johnson’s escalation of the conflict, and the domino theory’s viability. Moyar concludes that Saigon and Washington could have won the war if Diem had stayed in power or if the Johnson administration had provided a stronger military response. Although encouraging us to « think otherwise » through its well-written, researched, and forcefully argued interpretations, Triumph Forsaken is, in many respects, a counterfactual explanation of U.S. involvement in Vietnam and fails to revise the historical record.

The book begins with Moyar’s designation of « orthodox » and « revisionist » camps. Early scholarship in the 1960s and 1970s (the orthodox school) criticized American actions in Vietnam and insisted that the war could not be won. Revisionists typically viewed the war effort as noble and winnable if the United States had either (1) made better use of its conventional military power or (2) adapted to guerilla warfare. Identifying himself as a revisionist, Moyar dismisses the vast majority of scholarship produced in the past two decades as continued orthodoxy, claiming that it is concentrated in a « relatively small number of areas, » concerned « primarily with American policymaking in Washington and Saigon, » and dominated by one school of thought that sees America’s involvement in the war as « wrongheaded and unjust » (p. xi). These statements are easily called into question by a perfunctory survey of the interdisciplinary, multi-archival, and international literature that has emerged. Equally perplexing is Moyar’s contention that his interpretation of « the facts » differentiates his volume « from all of the existing literature in its breadth of coverage both inside and outside the two Vietnams and in its use of a more comprehensive collection of source materials » (p. xiii). This is quite a claim-and one that fails to hold up under scrutiny. [1]To the extent that Moyar forces us to rethink orthodoxies, his work is commendable; but in the end, his revisionism is unpersuasive in large part because he simply does not marshal the evidence to support his version of events. In selectively quoting and caricaturing the arguments of others, he repeatedly fails to grapple with the avalanche of scholarship that contradicts his own. [2]

Before delving into some of the book’s key flaws, its strengths deserve mention. Moyar’s descriptions and analysis of military encounters and technologies are first rate. Moreover, his chapters on peaceful coexistence and insurgency are expansive in their coverage of the evolution of South and North Vietnamese thinking, particularly Diem’s attempts to govern and guarantee stability from the national down to the local level. Moyar also gives a clear analysis of the various crises of succession in South Vietnam following Diem’s assassination. Finally, Moyar offers much greater detail about American military leaders, who emerge as the heroes of the book, in contrast to the « brainy civilians, » who, in Moyar’s opinion, had no conception of Vietnamese political, military, and cultural realities (pp. 349, 416). [3] Moyar also reminds us that the Americans and their South Vietnamese allies often fought effectively and ethically.

Unfortunately, the weaknesses of the book far outweigh its strengths. Moyar has a tendency to leave out pesky details that might derail his interpretations, committing a number of factual errors in the process. For example, he incorrectly claims Truong Chinh was a supporter of Soviet policy when in fact he had a pro-Chinese orientation, he fails to offer any evidence at all to explain how the French and Vietnamese forces were on « the verge of crushing » the Viet Minh in early 1954 (pp. 28, 297, 322), and he mistakenly concludes that congressional leaders gave united action-proposed multilateral intervention to lift the Viet Minh siege at Dien Bien Phu-their « consent » and were « willing » to send ground forces if other nations contributed large numbers of troops. Rather, Congress insisted on allied participation and immediate French independence for Indochina-neither of which was likely to materialize-before agreeing to united action. Nor did united action come down to « whether Britain would go along, » which was secondary to congressional obstructionism. Finally, the British declined united action not because the « potential danger to Malaya and other British interests was not sufficiently large to justify a possible war, » but because they wanted to give negotiations at the upcoming Geneva Conference a chance to succeed (p. 29). [4]

Readers will be forgiven for asking « what Geneva Conference? » as Moyar skims over one of the most important points in the decision-making process on Vietnam. According to Moyar, the Geneva agreements suffered from a « congenital defect » in that they lacked « the endorsement of the new South Vietnamese government and the U.S. government, » both of which were « certain » to be leading actors in the future (pp. 30-31). However, it was far from certain in July 1954 that Washington and Saigon would emerge as the decision makers. It became clear that the Geneva agreements would fail only after Diem began to consolidate his control; U.S. officials made the conscious decision to replace France in South Vietnam in the military, political, economic, and cultural realms; and London, Paris, Moscow, and Beijing made other concerns a priority over implementing the accords. Moyar’s painfully one-sided depiction of the French villainy in resisting Diem’s attempts to wipe out his enemies during this period results from his heavy reliance on anti-French American and South Vietnamese sources. Like the Americans, the French were divided on Diem’s prospects for success and were not engaged in round-the-clock « plotting » and « calumny » against him (pp. 41-53).

Moyar provides valuable analysis of Diem’s rise to power and the strengths of his 1954-1963 government, although he is not the first to do so, as his book suggests. A general trend in the scholarship during the past decade has rehabilitated Diem’s image to some degree. [5] Still, Diem’s many weaknesses are almost completely absent in the book. Moyar chooses instead to blame the Buddhists and David Halberstam’s and Neil Sheehan’s press coverage for rising American and South Vietnamese hostility to Diem. However, not all Buddhists were « fanatical » and « covert communists, » and many American officials shared the journalists’ concerns about Diem (pp. 217, 228, 317). Every American ambassador from Donald Heath to Frederick Nolting left South Vietnam far more pessimistic than when they arrived. And, although not apparent in Moyar’s account, a number of military officials also held deeply negative views of the Diem regime and its successors. [6] In the end, Moyar’s claim that if Diem had lived « it is highly doubtful that the war would have reached a point where the United States needed to introduce several hundred thousand of its own troops to avert defeat » and that it was « quite possible » that South Vietnam « could have survived under Diem without the help of any U.S. ground forces » is impossible to prove and unsupported by the evidence (p. 286).

Strangely, while casting a critical eye at official American statements and documents, Moyar gives far less scrutiny to the rhetoric of non-American actors and to American military leaders. For example, in his use of translated Vietnamese sources, both communist and non-Communist, Moyar accepts at face value claims of Ho Chi Minh’s deference to the international Communist movement, the North Vietnamese dismissal of the 1956 elections, and the strength of the South Vietnamese armed forces (pp. 4, 9, 58, 181-84). [7] Moreover, in pressing his point that an invasion of the North was the best option for the United States in 1964, Moyar argues that Johnson’s rejection of the military’s proposals for « hard action » in Laos and Vietnam and his choice of gradual escalation convinced Hanoi that the United States would not put up a fight for South Vietnam (pp. 348-49). If hard action had been pursued, according to Moyar, the North Vietnamese would have retreated into the mountains and China would have abstained from the fighting, but there is little evidence to indicate that Hanoi and Beijing would have followed this script. Even worse, Moyar engages in speculative pop psychology when he explains Johnson’s unwillingness to embrace hard action through a college incident in which Johnson « did not stand and trade punches, but instead hopped onto his bed, lay on his back, and kicked frantically with his long legs to keep the would-be adversary away » (pp. 288, 331).

Finally, Moyar’s claim that American leaders and their allies believed that if South Vietnam had fallen in the 1960s, a « high probability » existed that many dominoes would have been knocked over in Southeast Asia must be addressed. In his scenario, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore, and Indonesia would have toppled, with potential fallout in the Philippines, Taiwan, Burma, and Japan. Moyar also asserts that much of the international community, including SEATO and NATO members, publicly and privately supported the United States in Vietnam. There is little, however, aside from a few selected quotations from worried American officials and international leaders trying to acquire more American aid, to substantiate these arguments (pp. 138-42, 377-91). If other leaders were so concerned with the domino effect, then perhaps they would have done more than offer token troops, rhetoric, and humanitarian aid. SEATO never took an official stand asking members to assist South Vietnam, NATO countries sought ways to disengage the United States from Vietnam, and, in the end, only the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea sent troops to Vietnam, and of those, the Philippines, Thailand, and South Korea leveraged their aid for important U.S. economic and military concessions as well as a complete U.S. subsidy of their forces in Vietnam.

Moyar excels at creating an alternate history to American intervention in Vietnam, an exercise that undoubtedly has its uses in stimulating thinking and challenging traditional viewpoints. The problem, of course, is that we will never know the course of events if Diem had lived, or if the United States had invaded North Vietnam, or if South Vietnam had fallen in the 1960s instead of 1975. Ultimately, Moyar offers no compelling evidence that triumph was forsaken, but, by imagining that it was, his book makes for an interesting read.

 


 

[1] I refer readers to Edwin Moïse’s excellent bibliography on the Vietnam Wars, available from http://www.clemson.edu/caah/history/FacultyPages/EdMoise/bibliography.html.

[2] See, for example, Fredrik Logevall, Choosing War: The Lost Chance for Peace and the Escalation of War in Vietnam (Berkeley, CA, 1999), xiii and David Anderson, « One Vietnam War Should Be Enough, » Diplomatic History 30, no. 1 (January 2006): 2-8 for the full context of their quoted comments in Triumph Forsaken (p. xii).

[3] See, for example, Moyar’s one-sided criticism of Ambassadors Elbridge Durbrow and Henry Cabot Lodge (pp. 68, 99, 115, 236-74).

[4] See Joint Resolution Draft, 2 April 1954, Dwight D. Eisenhower Library (EL), Dulles Papers, Subject series, box 8; Draft of the Congressional Resolution, 17 May 1954, Dulles Papers, Dulles-Herter Correspondence, 1953-1961, microfilm, reel 5; William Knowland oral history, EL, OH-233 (2 of 3), 1967; top-secret report, 23 April 1954, Archives Nationales, Paris, 74AP/38; 7 April 1954, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, Asie 1944-55, Indochine, vol. 290; top-secret memo of Dulles-Eisenhower conversation, 19 May 1954, Dulles-Herter, reel 5.

[5] For a sampling of this literature, see Philip Catton, Diem’s Final Failure: Prelude to America’s War in Vietnam (Lawrence, KS, 2003); Edward Miller, « Grand Designs: Vision, Power and Nation Building in America’s Alliance with Ngo Dinh Diem, 1954-1960 (Ph.D. diss., Harvard University, 2004); and Kathryn Statler, Replacing France: The Origins of American Intervention in Vietnam (Lexington, KY, 2007), chaps. 4, 5, 8.

[6] See Robert Topmiller, The Lotus Unleashed: The Buddhist Peace Movement in South Vietnam, 1964-1966 (Lexington, KY, 2002) for a counterargument to Moyar’s claims about the Buddhist movement. See Robert Buzzanco, Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era (New York, 1996) for American military concerns about South Vietnam’s prospects for success.

[7] For works that address Ho Chi Minh’s nationalist credentials and Hanoi’s belief that the 1956 elections would be held, see Robert Scigliano, South Vietnam: Nation under Stress (Boston, 1964); Carl Thayer, War by Other Means: National Liberation and Revolution in Vietnam (Sydney, 1989); Robert Brigham, Guerrilla Diplomacy: The NLF’s Foreign Relations and the Vietnam War (Ithaca, NY, 1999); and William Duiker, Sacred War: Nationalism and Revolution in a Divided Vietnam (Boston, 1995).

Review of Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War, 1954-1965 by Mark Moyar, Cambridge University Press, New York, 2006. Pages: xxiii+416. $32.00.

Reviewed by Kathryn C. Statler, in Political ReviewNet – Diplomatic History, Volume 32, Issue 01, pp. 153-157.
Online date : 10/04/2008

Pour en savoir plus :

Autres avis de lecture sur le site officiel de Mark Moyar.

Voir le débat suscité par cet ouvrage sur l’historiographie américaine de la guerre, en 2007 – en ligne sur pdf : H-Diplo