The Road to War: France and Vietnam, 1944-1947

The Road to War: France and Vietnam, 1944-1947

The Road to War: France and Vietnam, 1944-1947

The Road to War: France and Vietnam, 1944-1947

Synopsis

The author explores the true purpose of the 1944 Brazzaville conference, suggesting that it was an attempt to find a means to reconcile France's search for international grandeur with the resurgence of colonial nationalism.

Excerpt

Throughout the course of the debates and developments discussed in the preceding chapters, the question of Indochina remained in suspense. Alone amongst the territories of Overseas France at the time of the Brazzaville Conference, Indochina stayed outside Gaullist control. Both in Algiers and subsequently in liberated Paris, policy makers found themselves posing a series of as yet only hypothetical questions; their perplexity was barely concealed by the bravado of two political Declarations on Indochina, in December 1943 and March 1945. How should the principles of the Brazzaville policy be put into practice in France's richest, most populous, and most complex colonial dependency? What role would be left for France in the Far East once the upheavals of the War in the Pacific were over, and how could this role be squared with local and international pressures for imperial reform? Should France be prepared to parley with the forces of Indochinese, and especially Vietnamese, nationalism? and who were these forces? What account should be taken of Admiral Decoux's Vichy administration, and especially of its reform programme? Uncertainties relating to these questions were heightened by the Japanese takeover of 9 March 1945, which interrupted the continuity of French rule in Indochina, and which seemed for a while to signal an end to France's presence in the Far East altogether. Nowhere was Laurentie's analysis of 'colonial crisis' of greater moment, as nationalists declared independence in all the Indochinese capitals. Just how far should the gprf go in making concessions as France . . .

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