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    why do you think the us failed to reply to ho chi minh’s petition or to support vietnamese independence?

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    What if? Those two words are easy to ask, whether about our own lives or world history. But the answers can be haunting—a different choice might have…

    from The Water's Edge

    Remembering Ho Chi Minh’s 1945 Declaration of Vietnam’s Independence

    Blog Post by James M. Lindsay

    September 2, 2016 8:00 am (EST)

    What if? Those two words are easy to ask, whether about our own lives or world history. But the answers can be haunting—a different choice might have created a better opportunity or prevented a tragedy. Just consider the U.S. response to Ho Chi Minh’s declaration of Vietnam’s independence on September 2, 1945.

    Vietnam had been a French colony before World War II started. After France fell to Germany in 1940, Japan seized control of Vietnam, but allowed French officials and troops to administer the country. Seeing an opportunity to liberate Vietnam, Ho made his way to Vietnam from China in early 1941. It was the first time in three decades that he had set foot in his homeland. He had spent thirty years in exile, living in the United States, Britain, France, and Russia among other places.

    Ho and his initial few followers operated in primitive conditions in mountainous jungles along Vietnam’s border with China. Local Vietnamese slowly joined his cause. With time, Ho’s forces, known as the Viet Minh, effectively wrested control of several of Vietnam’s northern (and remote) provinces. In March 1945, with the war in Pacific having clearly turned against Japan, Tokyo seized direct control of Vietnam and evicted French troops. The Viet Minh used the resulting confusion to seize even more territory.

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    The Viet Minh’s success attracted the attention of the U.S. Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner to the CIA. In March 1945, an OSS officer met with Ho in Kunming, China. The two men quickly struck a deal. The OSS would equip the Viet Minh with radios and some light arms. In return, the Viet Minh would give the OSS intelligence, harass Japanese forces, and try to rescue American pilots shot down over Viet Minh-controlled territory.

    A small number of OSS operatives parachuted into northern Vietnam in mid-July 1945 to help train the Viet Minh. This so-called Deer Team found Ho deathly ill, “shaking like a leaf and obviously running a high fever.” They treated him for malaria and dysentery, and he recovered quickly. Looking forward to what would happen after Japan’s defeat, he asked his American guests, “your statesmen make eloquent speeches about . . . self-determination. We are self-determined. Why not help us? Am I any different from . . . your George Washington?”

    Ho’s question quickly became relevant when Japan surrendered in mid-August. With the Japanese defeated and French forces long gone, the Viet Minh moved into Hanoi unopposed. It marked the first time Ho had set foot in his country’s biggest city. The streets were draped with Viet Minh flags. Talk of independence was in the air. Ho did not disappoint.

    On September 2, 1945, in front of a crowd of hundreds of thousands, Ho declared Vietnam an independent nation. He began his speech with words familiar to any American schoolchild:

    More on: United States Vietnam Wars and Conflict

    All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.

    This immortal statement was made in the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776. In a broader sense, this means: All the peoples on the earth are equal from birth, all the peoples have a right to live, to be happy and free.

    Ho started by quoting Thomas Jefferson’s famous words for a reason: He desperately wanted U.S. support. Having it would prevent France from trying to reassert control over Vietnam and help keep Vietnam’s powerful neighbor and historical adversary China at bay. Seeking U.S. support seemed a reasonable goal. President Franklin Roosevelt’s opposition to European colonialism was well known. He had insisted that the 1941 Atlantic Charter, issued jointly by the United States and Great Britain, contain a provision stating that both countries respected “the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live.” FDR wanted the United States firmly on the side of anti-colonialism, and liberation movements across the globe took him at his word.

    But FDR wasn’t alive to read Ho’s speech. Harry Truman now sat in the Oval Office. Anti-colonization wasn’t his cause. He viewed Southeast Asia through the lens of Europe. His priority was seeing that a successful French government grew out of the ashes of World War II. And the French were clamoring to reclaim their colonies. Sacrificing the interests of an obscure Asian country that hadn’t even merited a U.S. ambassador before World War II was a small price to pay to help secure stability in Europe. When a letter from Ho seeking U.S. support arrived in Washington in September 1945, passed along by a supportive OSS agent, it went unanswered. So did a telegram that arrived in February 1946 with a similar message. By then, French forces had begun returning to Vietnam. War would quickly follow.

    Ho’s appeals for U.S. support would not be Washington’s last opportunity to chart a course different from the one it ultimately chose in Vietnam. As the historian Frederik Logevall has shown in his terrific books Embers of War and Choosing War, Truman and his successors passed by many other "off ramps" on the road to the American war in Vietnam. But in retrospect, Ho’s bid for U.S. support in 1945 might have been the best chance to avoid the fighting that would leave more than 58,000 Americans dead, see more than 150,000 wounded, and deeply divide the country.

    Source : www.cfr.org

    Letter from Ho Chi Minh to President Harry Truman

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    Letter from Ho Chi Minh to President Harry Truman

    Letter from Ho Chi Minh to President Harry Truman 1/18/1946

    1

    In 1945, during World War II, Japanese troops took control of Vietnam (under French rule at the time). At the end of the war, Ho Chi Minh—the Vietnamese Communist leader—seized an opportunity to escape decades of French rule. The day Japan surrendered to the Allies, Ho Chi Minh declared independence in front of a crowd of exhilarated Vietnamese. In a deliberate appeal for American support, he opened his speech with the words: “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, among them are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness."

    Ho Chi Minh sent this letter to President Harry S. Truman on the occasion of the assembly of the United Nations, asking for American help in securing Vietnamese independence from France. The United States did not support the Vietnamese struggle, however. The U.S. government adopted a neutral policy when France went to war to recolonize Vietnam in 1945; and President Harry S. Truman later authorized financial and military assistance to the French in 1950.

    This primary source comes from the Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State.

    National Archives Identifier: 28469393

    Full Citation: Letter from Ho Chi Minh to President Harry Truman; 1/18/1946; 800 Indochina 1946; General Records, 1946 - 1948; Records of the Foreign Service Posts of the Department of State, Record Group 84; National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD. [Online Version, https://www.docsteach.org/documents/document/ho-chi-minh-truman, April 5, 2022]

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    Rights: Public Domain, Free of Known Copyright Restrictions.

    Source : www.docsteach.org

    U.S. Ignored Ho Chi Minh Pleas For Aid, Monitor Article Says

    Christian Science Monitor article based on study tells how US ignored Ho Chi Minh plea for aid in winter mos following end of World War II and of his proposal that Vietnam have status equal to that of Philippines; repts that when he got no answers to his requests he acquiesced to a return of the French to Vietnam for a 5-yr period

    U.S. Ignored Ho Chi Minh Pleas For Aid, Monitor Article Says

    June 30, 1971

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    About the Archive

    This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.

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    BOSTON, Wednesday, June 30 (AP)—The Christian Science Monitor said today that the United States “ignored eight direct appeals for aid fro mthe North Vietnamese Communist leader, Ho Chi Minh, in the first five winter months following the end of World War II.”

    The New York Times is restrained by Federal court order from publishing further articles in its Vietnam series. This dis patch is based on an article in The Christian Science Monitor and was distributed by The Associated Press to all its news paper, radio and television subscribers.

    “And, according to previ ously unpublished Pentagon papers,” the newspaper said. “Ho also sent several messages through secret channels even earlier, in August and Septem ber of 1945, proposing that Vietname be accorded the ‘same status as the Philippines’—an undetermined period of tutelage preliminary to indepence.”

    Bpt, The Monitor said, the Pentagon study shows Ho Chi Minh's reputation as a Com munist, plus Washington deter mination to support France, were fatal bars to aid for the North Vietnamese leader, even though Government analyst de scribed him as possessing “real political strength.”

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    O.S.S. Plays Role

    The Monitor said Mr. Ho's message of August and Septem ber, 1945, proposing status for Vietnam equal to that of the Philippines were sent through the Office of Strategic Services, wartime precedessor of the Central Intelligence Agency.

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    “The eight that followed, sent after guerrilla fighting broke out with returning French troop in the south, asked for formed American intervention against restoration of French colonial rule in Indochina,” The Monitor said. “Ho cited the Atlantic Charter, the United Nations Charter, and a speech by President. Truman in Octo ber, 1945, endorsing national self‐determination.

    “When Ho got no answers to his messages, sent between October, 1945, and February, 1946, he acquiesced in a return of the French to Vietnam for a five‐year period.”

    The Monitor said Mr. Ho an swered his Vietnamese critics by saying that in the face of two evils, he preferred to put up with the French for five years rather than the Chinese for the rest of his life.

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    Suspicion About Communist

    The Monitor account, writ ten by David K. Willis, the newspaper's American news editor, and Geoffrey Godsell, its overseas news editor, says:

    “Underlying the American refusal to deal with Ho at all is a suspicious uncertainty about helping a leader known to be a Communist, for fear that he might lead his country into the orbit of the Soviet Union. United States policy after the war evolved into sup port of the French in Indochina, in order to cement the alliance with France in Europe in face of the growing Russian threat from the East.

    “The papers do say Ho re ceived ‘OSS support during and immediatery after’ the War. But in finding no record of any an swers to his eight communica tions in the winter of 1945–46, the study goes on to comment that the U. S. offered Ho “only narrow options.”

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    Source : www.nytimes.com

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