Today in 1945, Ho Chi Minh read the Declaration of Independence of Vietnam, declaring Vietnam a republic and independent from France. Unknown to him, Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin had already met to carve up post-war Vietnam in Potsdam. The country was to be divided in two with the northern half under the control of the Chinese and the southern under the British.
‘To Western eyes, it seemed inconceivable that Ho would make the tremendous sacrifices he did. But in 1946, as war with the French loomed, he cautioned them, “You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours, yet even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.” The French, convinced of their superiority, ignored his warning and suffered grievously as a result. Senior American officers similarly nurtured the illusion that their sophisticated weapons would inevitably break enemy morale. But, as Ho’s brilliant commander, General Vo Nguyen Giap, told me in Hanoi in 1990, his principal concern had been victory. When I asked him how long he would have resisted the U.S. onslaught, he thundered, “Twenty years, maybe 100 years – as long as it took to win, regardless of cost.” The human toll was horrendous. An estimated 3 million North and South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians died.’
Stanley Karnow, Time magazine
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