Courseworks

Conflict in Vietnam pre- 1963

Source A is a secondary source written by a historian “Louis Saurel” in 1968. I think this it shows that the Vietnamese attitude to the French ruling was one of resentment. I think this because the source talks about how the Vietnamese resisted the French occupation from the beginning. “Many Vietnamese refused to accept the French occupation of 1883. Source B is a primary source drawn by an unknown artist. I think a western person drew it because of the detail in the background. Also a French person would not have drawn Vietnamese people looking discontented. I think the picture shows that the Vietnamese did not want to be in the French army. I think this because in the picture one of the soldiers looks discontented. Both of the Vietnamese soldiers have bare feet or sandals while the French soldier has boots. I think they were treated as lower class citizens because the French thought they were better than they were. I think the sources show that the were mixed feelings among the Vietnamese about the French rule. Although many were against French rule some worked for them so can not all have been anti French.2. A French army officer who was stationed in Vietnam before and after World War Two wrote source C in 1945. Source D was recounted by a French merchant and colonist who worked in Vietnam before and after World War Two in a BBC documentary in 1995. French people write both sources so thy are probably biased and only give the French side of the story. They both give the impression that Vietnam was part of France. Source C says, “It is our country”. Source D says “An important military position”. Both sources imply that France had a right to rule Vietnam. The differences between these sources are source C seems to be propaganda, part of a speech. For instance, “I would like to say a few words about what Indo- China meant to us”. Source D seems to be more honest since it is saying some of the reason that France was ruling Vietnam was for France’s own good. For example, “Indo China was a storehouse of raw materials”.3. Sources A, B, C, D, and E give very different accounts of Franco – Vietnamese relations. In source A, the historian Louis Saurel gave a neutral account since he seems to be on neither side, I think this is because he is a historian and can look back at the evidence and see both sides. I think source B was drawn by a Western person because of the detail in the background since Vietnamese are is very stylized. The person may have been a Vietnamese sympathizer since they drew Vietnamese people looking discontented. If so it would be biased towards the Vietnamese point of view and not include both sides. Although sources C and D are both primary, they are biased towards the French point of view since they only give the French point of view and do not include the Vietnamese.They assume because they are European they are superior and Vietnam is not fit to rule itself. “Our aim was to lead them to independence little by little”. They also though Vietnam liked being ruled by them. Source E is written by Ton That Thein who was an interpreter for the OSS. He is very anti French. He makes generalizations about the French people ruling them “people with very little education”. He worked for the Americans. I think this is because he resented being ruled by the French so he left out the good things the French did for Vietnam, they built railways, schools ad created industry. I think this is a good source since he worked for the Americans so would not have had any prior involvement in the French and Vietnamese’s conflict.4. I am going to look at sources E, F, G, and H and see how useful they are to explain the poor relations between Ho Chi Minh and the French. Source E is written by a Vietnamese person Ton That Thein. This source would not be very useful because the source is biased towards the Vietnamese point of view because he only gives the bad things the French did and does not include the good. He makes generalizations. “The Vietnamese resented that” He would not have known what every Vietnamese person was thinking. Also he recounted this on a BBC documentary in 1995, which was a long time after the events happened so he may have forgotten some things and exaggerated others.An American recounted source F on a BBC documentary in 1995. They are not involved in the conflict between the French and the Vietnamese so the source is neutral and they do not seem to take either side. The source is about the Americans using Ho Chi Minh as a spy. “He was obviously pro ally”. “Previously we had been told to have nothing to do with the natives (by the French)”French reaction to this was, “He is a communist”. The source shows that the French looked down on the Vietnamese. Although it was recounted a long time after the events had taken place the source seems quite accurate. I think this source is useful because it gives a balanced view of the events. Source G is a primary source, written by Lieutenant Rene Defourneaux a French- American OSS intelligence officer a French – American OSS intelligence officer in 1945. It is about what the French intelligence thought of Ho Chi Minh “He was a very dangerous man”.Although the source is contempory it is biased in that it only includes the French intelligence’s opinion of Ho Chi Minh. It would only be useful if people needed to know what the French intelligence thought. Source H was recounted in 1995 on a BBC documentary by Frankie Tan a Chinese-American OSS intelligence officer. He was sent back with Ho Chi Minh to help organise the Vietminh. In the source he is explaining that Ho Chi Minh told him their side of the story and the atrocities the French committed “He pointed out to me some cuttings in the side of the hill, where the French used to chain people and decapitate them.” In the source Ho Chi Minh also talked about the fact that he looked up to the American president Roosevelt “he idolised Roosevelt.” I think that the atrocities that the French committed were true but Ho Chi Minh did not give both sides of the story. I think that he was trying to make the French look bad so that the Americans would support him. I think this shows that relationships between the French and Ho Chi Minh were not very good and Ho Chi Minh may have been exaggerating them to gain the support of the Americans.5. In source K Major Al Thomas of the OSS recounted in a BBC documentary in 1995 the Generals reaction to him asking what had happened to the wartime policy of helping the Vietnamese. “Son, you don’t understand the big picture”. This was because the cold war had started and the Americans thought all communists were a threat and Ho Chi Minh was a communist. It would have looked bad for America to be allies with a communist. So they broke their alliance under the pretence they had just found out that Ho Chi Minh was a communist. In source F, when American HQ recruited Ho Chi Minh as a spy they knew “We’ve got to stop worrying about communism these are out allies”. In source I Major Al Thomas who parachuted into Vietnam to train the Vietminh in Guerrilla Warfare noticed they did not keep the fact they were communist secret, “I noticed early that there was a red flag with star, also a clenched fist sickle salute”. The star is the symbol of the communist party and the soviet flag has a red background and the sickle is part of the Russian flag. So it was obvious they were communist. Before the cold war the orders given to Major Archimedes Patti the American leader of the OSS in south East Asia in 1945 were, “You are not to return Vietnam to the French under any circumstances Period”.6. In August 1945 Ho Chi Minh sent a letter to Lieutenant Fenn. In the letter he describes the good relations between the Vietnamese and the Americans. I think it would depend on the date to whether Americans would agree or disagree with this. Before 1943 they would agree with it because they were allied with the Vietnamese and the USA helped them fight the Japanese. Also the USA were allied with communist Russia. Source F illustrates the USA’s view on communism, ” We’ve got to stop worrying about communism, these are our allies”. Source I also backs up the fact that the Americans knew that the Vietnamese were communist, “I noticed early that there was a red flag with star, also a clenched fist sickle salute”.The star is the symbol of the communist party and the soviet flag has a red background and the sickle is part of the Russian flag. It was obvious that they were communists. It is highlighted in source J since the USA takes the side of he communist country over the democracy, “You are not to return Indo – China to the French under any circumstances, Period!”. The Americans suddenly changed sides in 1945 at the end of the Second World War. This was because the cold war was just starting and the Americans considered all communists as the enemy. Source K illustrates the switching of sides “I tried to discover what had happened to the war time policy of helping the Vietnamese…General: “Son you don’t understand the big picture!””. The “big picture” was that the cold war was just starting and the Americans saw all communists as a threat to their way of life. There was a power vacuum at the end of the second world was and the two super powers the USA and the USSR both wanted to fill it. The Vietnamese did not realise that they were involved in the cold war this is shown in source L which is a letter by Ho Chi Minh to Lieutenant Fenn, “I feel only sorry that our American friends have to leave us so soon.”. He still thought of the Americans as allies and did not realise that they saw them as a threat. The US National Security Council was worried about communist control of Asia because of resources, “South East Asia is the principal world source of natural rubber and tin, and a producer of petroleum and other strategically important commodities.” The USA believed in the domino theory, which was if one country went communist, all the countries around it would follow. That was another reason why they saw Vietnam as a threat. The Americans had good relations with them when it suited them, but as soon as it did not they changed sides.

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