Conflict in Indo-China and International Repercussions: A Documentary History, 1945-1955

Conflict in Indo-China and International Repercussions: A Documentary History, 1945-1955

Conflict in Indo-China and International Repercussions: A Documentary History, 1945-1955

Conflict in Indo-China and International Repercussions: A Documentary History, 1945-1955

Excerpt

Anyone who recalls the tragic symbolism of Dien Bien Phu -- the conflict, the courage, sagacity and endurance which that once-obscure vale now denotes -- will recognize in the struggle for Indo-China many ingredients of similar conflicts elsewhere in Asia and the world. Interests and forces operative in that smaller theater have a wide significance, as was amply demonstrated by the world reaction to the siege of Dien Bien Phu and to the Geneva Conference in 1954. Before that conference met in April, there was real danger that both the United States and Communist China might feel compelled to intervene openly on a large scale in the Southeast Asian peninsula, thus precipitating a subtropical replica of the Korean War. No one knew surely whether such a repetition could be kept within narrow confines. Certainly the people of Indo-China would have been further victimized as a colonial war, already quasi-internationalized, would have been quite engulfed in the struggle of great and distant powers.

This edited compendium of approximately one hundred key documents illustrating main viewpoints, policies and trends marking the conflict in Indo-China is published at a time when major newspapers carry almost daily reports from that anxious country. According to one of the Geneva agreements, a nation-wide election is supposed to be held in July 1956, and the communist powers, confident of winning unification under the "Democratic Republic" of Vietnam, are insisting upon negotiations to that end with the southern government under Premier Ngo Dinh Diem. However, the latter and the United States did not sign the Geneva agreements and (as explained in Documents, V, D, 7, 8) the southern regime has no assurance that elections in the North would be genuinely democratic. Here again is a situation parallel to efforts, so far in vain, to unify Korea. The fact is that, whether for the expansion of communism or the strategic shielding of two approaches to sensitive regions of a now unified and more powerful China, that "people's democracy" will fight if necessary to prevent the Korean and Vietnamese buffers from passing under the control of an alliance system probably hostile to its interests and classically aligned as a counterbalance. On the other hand, non-communist nations recall how Japan utilized Indo-China as a springboard for expansion into other Southeast Asian countries; it was actually the Japanese invasion of southern Indo- China which touched off the moves and counter-measures leading immediately to a general war in the Pacific. Considerations like these invest a conflict in a limited but crucial area with magnified significance for the entire world and all its people.

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