Brad Wardell's views about technology, politics, religion, world affairs, and all sorts of politically incorrect topics.
How doing what France wants helped cause the Vietnam nightmare
Published on August 28, 2003 By Draginol In Politics
In American politics, presidential candidates like Howard Dean stress the need of getting other countries to like us "again". Do you think that French candidates sweat whether the United States likes France? In fact, the United States has a 200+ year obsession with wanting other countries to like us or to accept us.

The upper crusts of the American life have traditionally felt scorn and embarrassment at the "crass" culture of the United States. In the United States, the middle class has always ruled the day. And to those elites, who consider their tastes and intellects much more refined, such a situation is abhorrent.

As a result, American leaders, particularly on the left, have generally gone to great lengths to appease "their betters" in Europe and in particular western Europe. Most Americans have no idea how much we have suffered as a result of politicians, like Howard Dean, wanting to be accepted and liked by countries like France.

Let's take Vietnam as an example since those who want us to do what France would have us do use to compare the situation with Iraq with. The implication is, if we just listened to the wise, sagely advice of our "allies" in France we wouldn't be in this "Vietnam-like" mess.

But Vietnam, in a nutshell, was a result of trying to placate the French. The more you know the history, the more infuriating it gets. In 1944, the OSS worked with Vietnamese nationals such as Ho Chi Min against the Japanese. We trained them to try to help liberate Indochina from the Japanese in World War II.

But where things get interesting is France's behavior. It's not commonly known that France was an Axis power for most of World War II. "Vichy France" is treated as some sort of puppet but it was an active participant in World War II as an Axis power. Most history books gloss over France's behavior in South East Asia. But in fact, France actively aided the Japanese, a fellow Axis power, in Indochina. Most people aren't aware of this, they think after France got taken out in 1940 that they were essentially like a chess piece off the board. In actuality they switched sides and from 1940 to 1944 they fought for the Germans and Japanese. Only after those bloody Anglo-Saxxons (UK/USA) conquered, er liberated France for Charles De Gaulle (and boy he sure showed his appreciation didn't he?) and his small contingent of "Free French" did France nominally return to being an "ally". And that was in the last 6 months or so of the war in Europe.

This is important because it sets up everything that happened next. So World War II ends and in the chaos that followed in Indochina, Ho Chi Min, an ally of the United States, sets up the Republic of Vietnam...

And then the French return.

Unlike Britain who started freeing its colonies and the United States who made the Philippines an independent country in 1946, the French wanted to keep their empire and fought tooth and nail before losing it.

The first thing the French did when they got back in force to Vietnam was arm the un-repatriated Japanese troops to "police" the population. Think about that. After fighting for their freedom from brutal Japanese occupiers while the Vichy French stood back and let it happen, the French return and rather than make clear that thought the Axis was an evil thing, they arm the Japanese again. They only stopped doing this because the Americans and British threw a fit about it. Most Americans on the ground believed that the French had no business in Indochina after their behavior during the war. They had seen the bravery and nationalism of the Vietnamese. To put it in perspective, Italy lost more troops fighting on behalf of the allies than the French did and Italy wasn't given back their various overseas possessions. But having France like us was apparently more important than doing the right thing in Indochina at the time.

Eventually France alienated Ho Chi Min who fled to the hills and began a guerilla war. The United States, wanting to support its "ally" France intervened in increasing ways which culminated in what we call the Vietnam war.

The United States, by no means, is blameless in the matter. But if we're going to start comparing the current situation with Iraq with Vietnam then let's not cherry pick. Let's remember that the whole ugly mess was largely caused by doing what France wanted. Hoping that they would like us more if we did.

update: The commenting system seems to be a bit messed up, should be fixed soon  In the meantime, you can email me and I'll try to respond in a follow-up.

update 2: okay, commenting fixed. comment away!

Comments (Page 2)
on Aug 29, 2003
Typical French defense. No mention of treatment of Jews either. I know that it is a common defense that France didn't send "that many" Jews to the death camps, but would a "neutral" country have sent any? I guess that my history books were wrong too, because I always thought that it was German troops that the US, Canada, and the UK encountered at Normandy, now I find out that it was French troops defending their national sovereignty. Would a neutral nation have allowed Germany to base its troops there? No.

It is not that the French have forgotten what the Anglo-American alliance did in WWII. It is as I have always believed, the French RESENT what we did. As we say in English "whatever gets you through the night" froggie.
on Aug 29, 2003
(Disclaimer: I am French, I live in the US, and I think there is no need to respond to the liberating "holier than thou" French bashing going on).

This article is very interesting, and dead on the facts: France administration has dealt very badly with international matters, and not just after WW2. This is interesting because it's not something that is pointed out in the French media. What's even more interesting is that every country that has had an international influence has had its administration deal very badly with international matters (I insist on "administration", as one should not confuse the people and their leaders), and these shortcomings are most often pointed out by the media in other countries. Thanks a lot for participating in this enlightening process.
on Aug 29, 2003
Well done. I consider myself pretty well informed about WWII and didn't know the story in Indochina. I want to touch on modern perceptions of France's role in WW II as you did. First of all, countless movies have focused on the exploits of the French resistance. Actually, there were never more than 10,000 members of the resistance. More Frenchmen VOLUNTARILY joined the Waffen SS, that portion of the Wermacht open to foreigners, than served in the resistance. Also, it has been suggested that one reason for France's rapid collapse in 1940 was that upwards of 30% of the French army officer corps were, in fact, fascist, nominally sypathetic to the invaders.

Finally, it bears repeating that French citizens in both occupied and Vichy France collaborated in the identification and transportation of French Jews to the death camps.

No amount of Hollywood-aided revisionism should erase the shame of France's real beahvior in WWII.
on Aug 29, 2003
I recall reading that in Indochina the French, after being defeated by the Japanese, offered to act as an internal security force. The Japanese apparently allowed this on a limited basis. Once it became obvious
that the Japs were getting evicted they turned on them.

I _think_ i read this in "The 10,000 Day War".

Re the "what were the Japanese still doing there" comment, they were still being found in various places in the Pacific and SE Asia up until about 20 years ago. Going back home after defeat was not
considered an attractive option.
on Aug 29, 2003
In my opinion the only time the French could be considered neutral in the Second World War was when they were half-way through the process of switching sides.
on Sep 09, 2003
Considering how France has "unilaterally" acted against world opinion for decades, allowing it's companies to trade with some of the nastiest dictators, it's humorous to hear the French whine about "unilateralism" by the United States. I think that some of Bush's actions were unilateral in nature when he bypassed the French, Germans, and Russians in the UN... but the French are the last ones to be speaking as moral and ethical "authorities" on such matters.
I think France wields an undeserved amount of opinion power at the UN, as permanent members of the Security Council.
on Sep 10, 2003
As an Australian, I would like to point out that a lot of Australians, not sure how many, died fighting the French in Palestine and Syria in WW2.
It was a viscious, bitter war.
on Sep 12, 2003
"France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country. France has usually been governed by prostitutes." ---Mark Twain

"I would rather have a German division in front of me than a French one behind me." --- General George S. Patton

"Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without your accordion." --- Norman Schwartzkopf

"We can stand here like the French, or we can do something about it." ---- Marge Simpson

"As far as I'm concerned, war always means failure" ---Jacques Chirac, President of France

"As far as France is concerned, you're right." ---Rush Limbaugh

"The only time France wants us to go to war is when the German Army is sitting in Paris sipping coffee." --- Regis Philbin

"The French are a smallish, monkey-looking bunch and not dressed any better, on average, than the citizens of Baltimore.
True, you can sit outside in Paris and drink little cups of coffee, but why this is more stylish than sitting inside and drinking large glasses of whiskey I don't know." --- P.J O'Rourke (1989)

"You know, the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who was still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it." ---John McCain, U.S. Senator from Arizona

"You know why the French don't want to bomb Saddam Hussein? Because he hates America, he loves mistresses and wears a beret. He is French, people ---Conan O'Brien

"I don't know why people are surprised that France won't help us get Saddam out of Iraq. After all, France wouldn't help us get the German out of France!" ---Jay Leno

"The last time the French asked for 'more proof' it came marching into Paris under a German flag." ---David Letterman
on Sep 15, 2003
Geez, i hate to double post, but here goes:

for #4, i intended to add to the end: if all of these people have turned against you, killed your people even after you liberated them, maybe its time to get people to like you more. Think of why these people hate you so much that they would goto such great lengths to kill your people.

And i'd like to add #7:
In recent news, america has cut military funding to many nations because they are willing to prosecute americans for war crimes. Including in these nations is columbia. A nation that is the worlds largest exporter of cocain, and their biggest customer is america. By using this name in particular as an example, do you feel that in the long term, this nation will pose any threat to americans, consider the violent terrorists in the nation, which also happen to be anti-american, and somewhat communist.
on Sep 15, 2003
i say this very calmly, as many people are in the extreme here:

1. What nation helped america become independent from the british monarch?
2. Does france actually do anything to america other than do as the people/voters want and freely oppose their policies?
3. Has France helped america in the war on terror? The first gulf war? Somalia? Kosavo?
4. america's track history for "rebuilding" nations has been...well, somewhat poor. Most of the nations that you have helped liberate and rebuilt have turned against you (france has turned against you as much as israel has now). Many of your rebuilding efforts have led to more war, chaos and anarchy and less american involvement. I cite the examples of: Nicuragua, Afganistan (the first time lol), Iraq (the first time as well lol), Argetina, Vietnam, Cambodia (a million died in this one....), Somalia, Kosavo, and a few others in South America. Many of these new leaders turned against america, committed huge genocides, mass sterilization, fund terror and as a smaller crime, steal from international charities.
5. What is wrong with asking for evidence before entering a long, controversial and unpopular (to them) war.
6. I don't feel that the liberation of the people in Iraq is valid for justification for a war. Where was america when 40mil died in China? There are other oppressed areas of the world today that have attacked america, but they still stand and fund terror like Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China. If you insist that it was the caring efforts that brought the war to depose of Saddam, then why were the Iraqi people left in his hands twice? Once was after the first gulf war.

i'm hoping for factual answers, or perhaps even questions. Not to be to hardline or ignorant, but i don't want rhetoric, celelbrity quotes from yesteryear or news updates. I'm hoping for a real discussion, as this is a hard thing to find today in the world of bigotry and intolerance.
on Sep 17, 2003
Making Europe like us should never be a campaign issue.

Making Europe respect us maybe should.

That's a two way issue. You must respect other countries and treat them with that respect for them to return it. I think that if the US started treating other countries with respect then they would begin to like it more. To add/reply to some of bigshot3754's comments

4) America through it's agencies and from top levels of governments has organised coups to overthrow elected governments. Chile being an excellent example of this. They put Pinochet in power and 30k people go missing. How can countries respect the US when they are willing to do this? America refuses to even answer such charges and people like Kissinger will never have to pay for their actions.

5) America tried to bully the UN into passing a resolution authorising war is weapons of mass destruction were not handed over. When it couldn't produce proof it bypassed the UN. Treated the UN and it's valid questions with no respect. When the war was over it continued to rub salt into the wounds by rewards rebuilding projects to American companies, refusing to allow the UN have any say in the rebuilding. America has no respect for the wishes of the world community so why does it feel surprised when they have no respect for it?

6) I would agree with this. Weapons of Mass Destruction was purely an excuse. I believe America made the right decision though. Saddam would easily have become a threat in the future and the Iraqi people were repressed. But they've only swapped one set of masters for another. Why does America refuse to respect the authority of the UN and give it a say in the rebuilding? It could have done so from immediately after the war and the world would have respected America for doing what it felt it had to do, now the world thinks America is trying to control Iraqi oil and dominate the muslim middle east.

7) Here is a classic case of America really failing to respect world opinion. The UN court for human rights has been ratified by enough countries world wide to bring it into being. A court founded to take those responsible for genocide, terrorism and repressing people to justice. Not only does America refuse to be bound by it, but it then bribes and threathens other nations to exempt it. How can anyone respect a country which does that?

So I say to Americans, don't waste election energy on a campaign issue of making France like you. It's pointless. Focus on gaining some respect for your country and on why the world doesn't respect you. That's far more important and countries will like you because of it.

Paul.
on Sep 22, 2003
Re: America's history in rebuilding nations, the two efforts I'm aware of are generally regarded as sucesses: Japan and the Marshall Plan in Europe. The other countries mentioned here were not part of any US supported rebuilding process that I'm aware of. Kosovo and Bosnia I believe are in the hands of the UN.

Different circumstances and cultures so I'm not comparing post WWII Japan and Western Europe, Germany specifically, to Iraq which will be a much more problematic prospect for a variety of reasons.

As for US involvement in Vietnam. I doubt it was to please the French. They were out of there in what, 1954? Don't forget the 50's was the era of McCarthy and communists were to be hunted and routed out at home and abroad. This carried over into the 60's. The domino theory and all that. Anticommunism and other factors fueled US involvement in Vietnam, but to please the French? I don't think so. Nevertheless, that didn't stop France from criticising US involvement in Vietnam, conveniently forgetting its own recent history in the area.

As for Frrance's history with the US during the Revolutionary War, the French King was all for deposing the power of a monarchy as long as it was the English monarchy, the old enemy of France. It certainly wasn't out of a commitment to democracy and a republican form of government.

on Oct 07, 2003
boo ya!
on Oct 23, 2003
i think we should u white people forced us off our land
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