From Ho Chi Minh’s fictional Diary:

20 July 1954
Hanoi, Vietnam

At the meeting today, Le Duan bitterly criticized us for conceding so much in the agreement. He contends that having so totally defeated the French we should have insisted on taking over the whole of Vietnam instead of merely the northern half. Dong countered that this was the price that the Americans demanded. They more or less control the United Nations, are vehemently anti-communist, and still far ahead of Russia in nuclear power so they are able to dictate their own terms for the Agreement. Mao talks big but has very little military power to back it up. Letting the south go was indeed sad, but there was no way around it.

The following is an excerpt from a letter written by Ho Chi Minh to the Vietnamese people on July 6, 1956:

“ ...After nearly nine years of extremely heroic and hard struggle by our entire people, the resistance was victori ous. The Geneva Agreements restored peace, recognized Vietnam’s independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity, and stipulated that free general elections be held throughout the country in July 1956 to reunify the country.

Strictly implementing the Geneva Agreements, the Government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam has repeatedly proposed to the South Vietnam authorities the holding of a consultative conference with a view of organizing free general elections to reunify the country.

But the U.S. imperialists and the pro-American authorities in South Viet Nam, scheming to divide our country permanently, have prevented the holding of free general elections at the time prescribed by the Geneva Agreements.”


The inevitable confrontation between the French and the Vietnamese under Ho and the military genius of Vo Nguyen Giap led to ultimate defeat of the French at Dien Bien Phu (arguably one of the most astounding military victories of the twentieth century).

With Giap having won the military victory, it was the task of Ho’s other staunch comrade, Pham Van Dong, to try to equal his success at the conference table in Geneva. It might have seemed that he could demand full independence, since the Vietnamese victory had been complete. Unfortunately, this victory was almost completely negated by the overwhelming likelihood that America would intervene with armed might against Vietnam including, if necessary, a second use of atomic weapons. We have to remember that America had emerged from World War II supremely triumphant, economically enriched, fanatically anti-communist, and alarmingly atom-bomb confident. The unfortunate Dong had to take what was offered: only the northern half of Indochina, with the south still under French control. What was worse, America refused to recognize the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and worked covertly to establish a permanent anti-communist South Vietnam. It subsequently took all of Ho’s skill and commanding influence to explain to his people what seemed like a humiliating defeat.
Back to Home Page