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Thread: Giap obituary: winner of three small wars

  1. #21
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    JohnT:

    Either way, or both ways, the North Vietnamese Communists needed the Red Chinese in the early 50s. They could not have won without them.

    One of the things Hanoi's War shows is the masterful way the North Vietnamese Communists played the Red Chinese and the Soviets off one another in order to get maximum benefit. Very very shrewd.

    They were equally good at public relations, getting the world and most importantly, an influential portion of the Americans, to view them as the good guys. George J. Veith, who wrote Black April ( http://www.amazon.com/Black-April-So.../dp/1594035725 ) is going to pay a lot of attention to that and how the Northern Communists worked closely with anti-war Americans in his next book. I thought Black April a very good book by the way.

    Given the way they played the ChiComs, the Soviets and the world, the North Vietnamese Communists didn't have to be very bright militarily to win the war against South Vietnam. The big strategic picture was stacked entirely in their favor, Communist help would keep coming and the South would be cut off. All the Communists had to do was keep going and things would eventually fall their way.

    One of the things we always forget is how critical outside support is to so many of the forces we have fought since WWII. The NVA could not have done it without the ChiComs and the Soviets. In Iraq, the Shiites could not have gained the influence they had without Iran. AQ in Iraq could not have done what they did without money from rich Saudis (my understanding anyway.) In Afghanistan, Taliban & Co would not even hardly exist without the Pak Army/ISI. AQ central maybe wouldn't exist at all without Pak Army/ISI forbearance. We seem to get preoccupied with the image of the plucky resistance fighter and forget who is feeding him and buying the ammunition.
    Last edited by carl; 10-08-2013 at 10:01 PM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  2. #22
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    Default D'accord!

    Carl, on this one we are in total agreement. I would only add that where we have supported insurgents, they have won when we were sufficiently steadfast. Two examples: Nicaragua - the contras (although it was very close in regard to our being sufficiently steadfast), and Afghanistan in ousting the Taliban.

    I would note that one of the statistically significant Factors/dimensions in the studies Manwaring and I have done is External Support to the Insurgents. (It was however significant at the 0.1 level which is not the common cutoff point, that being 0.05.) Still, it is one of the more powerful explanatory dimensions of the SWORD Model.

    Cheers

    JohnT

  3. #23
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default POW reflects: Senator McCain

    Not an obituary, more some remarks and this sentence by Giap explains why:
    You and I should discuss a future where our countries are not enemies but friends.
    Link:http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...Tabs%3Darticle
    davidbfpo

  4. #24
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    Default History will be kind to me for I intend to write it .

    ( Manufactured quote commonly attributed to Winston Churchill. )

    Reading anything attributed to Vo Nguyen Giap may provide insight into his thoughts, behaviour and supposed accomplishments and into what he wanted other people to believe. But he was more a doctrinaire communist than historian and hence very different to Churchill who managed to speak and write objectively on historical aspects including some in which he was directly involved.

    Not sure just which small war victories can be attributed to Giap. But destruction of the Viet Cong in 1968 could be described as a victory for his latter-day Viet Minh.

    A usefully objective study of Giap and his brutish part in the history of Indo-China might be completed by a British or better still by a Canadian historian. Anything authored, compiled or otherwise approved by a Vietnamese, Thai, Laotian, Korean, Japanese, French, Chinese, Cambodian, Australasian or American is likely to be degraded by bias.

  5. #25
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    Default Bias is ALWAYS there

    Compost, your comment really is a nonsequitur. Just because a writer is biased does not mean that he or she cannot control the bias. There are at least two ways of doing this/ (1) State your bias openly - this is more or less what the author of Hanoi's War does. We know where she is coming from and can take it into account. (2) Accept your bias and do your best to find proof that you are wrong. If you can't prove your bias false, then it stands until someone does. Edward Miller does this pretty well in his history of the Diem regime.

    Thus, while you are correct that certain nationalities are likely to have a particular bias, they actually may have a different one. Canadians, for one, are hardly monolithic about the Vietnam War and the Indochina War that preceded it. Some, of course, will see it from their perspective on the ICC but others will see it from other perspectives.

    JohnT

  6. #26
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    Default scope for bias can and should be reduced

    JohnT.
    Vo Nguyen Giap was a nasty piece of work. But he was apparently human enough to want a generally favourable reputation carried into the future. And during his later years he was probably clever enough to engage in more and more subtle manipulation.

    Any historian from a country that warred or policed unsuccessfully in Indo-China is prone to bias as for example supposing that North Vietnamese successes were generally gained by merit rather than conceded by ineptitude. The British were there only briefly and the Canadians not at all.

    It is preferable to avoid predictable bias. Hence, my opinion regarding the period during which Giap was a major or minor or inactive participant is that a regional history authored, compiled or otherwise approved by a Canadian is least likely to be degraded by bias .

  7. #27
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    Default Tmembers of the ICC

    Compost, there were 3 members of the ICC established by the 1954 Geneva conference ending the Indochina war: Canada, India, and Poland. Of the 3, only India was more or less neutral. Poland was defacto an ally of N VN (DRV) while Canada was an ally and supporter of the US and RVN. Poland was a conduit for intel to the DRV while Canada was the same for the US. The ICC - with all 3 members - was engaged throughout the Vietnam War and only dissolved by the 1973 Paris Accords.

    I say again: You will not find an unbiased historian but you will find good ones who can and do discipline their biases on all sides.

    JohnT

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