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Subject: Vo Nguyen Giap, renowned Vietnamese general, dies in Hanoi rss

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Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese military commander and national folk hero who organized the army that defeated the French and then the Americans in 30 years of Southeast Asian warfare, is dead. That war ended in 1975 when the last remaining U.S. military forces evacuated Saigon, leaving behind a war-torn and battle-scarred nation, united under Communist rule.

He died Oct. 4 in a hospital in Hanoi, a government official told the Associated Press. He was 102. No cause of death was immediately reported.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/obituaries/military-lead...



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Whenever I think of Giap, I think of Dien Bien Phu, Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu by Bernard Fall, and Citadel: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which I would love to own.



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Giap was a history teacher with no formal military training. He was a Vietnamese nationalist and joined the Communist party early in his career. He gained military experience while serving with the Communist guerillas in WWII.

He was a great organizer and motivator. Giap used thousands of porters to move artillery and tons of ammunition across rough terrain into position above Dien Bien Phu from Communist bases many miles away. Apparently Giap didn't know that his plan was logistically impossible.

As young revolutionary fighters Giap and Ho Chi Minh were arrested by the ruling regime and later released... just like Hitler, numerous Russian communist leaders, and a number of modern terrorists.

Giap made strategic miscalculations but he had the advantage of leading soldiers from an intensely nationalistic regime under the control of a totalitarian government. The heavy casualties suffered by the North Vietnamese might have broken the will of a less stalwart people.
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Paul Rohrbaugh wrote the following on the ATO (Against the Odds) CSW board this AM:

"I just heard the announcement of General Giap's passing at the age of 102 on the car radio during my drive home. I did not have the pleasure and privilege of meeting him personally, but did correspond with him via his interpreter, Lady Borden. He was very taken with La Valee de la Morte when it was first published as a DTP game by the Micro Game Design Group. He purchased copies as gifts for other friends who fought there, as well as to put in the museum's and divisional archives. I later sent him several copies of ATO issue 16 (now out of print) via the Vietnamese Embassy as gifts. I have an autographed copy of the game rules with his signature, as well as a thank you note from him for my time, research, and consideration on this famous battle.

As Voltaire once wrote, given time, all wars become civil wars."
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>and Citadel: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu, which I would love to own

You'll not get my copy, mwahaha!

Hard to know what to think of Giap's generalship. He won in the end, beating the French and the US/South Vietnamese, and winning counts for a lot. But his army took horrific casualties in the process.
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While the death of an individual is always cause for reflection and sympathy for the loss suffered by friends and family members, I am not prepared to wax poetically on this death.

Given the fact that he led a force that was fighting to enslave the free (albeit, corruptly led) members of his divided country, I don't see much cause for warm reflection.

If, as happened with post-WW2 Germany and Japan, a better nation emerged from the unification, perhaps I'd be more inclined. However, religious persecution and other unsavory practices still occur within the united country, and 55,000 of my fellow countrymen lost their lives to prevent that - no matter how misguided the policy may or may not have been.

I'm not moved.

I really didn't want to get all RSP-ish about it, but that's just the way I see it.

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I think there's a place for honoring the accomplishments of
successful and accomplished soldiers without getting into
the politics of the cause they served. Rommel, Lee, Napoleon's
Marshals, and many others who don't fit our current ideology
as to what is 'right' are treated this way; why let something that
is a bit more current be filter?
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calandale wrote:
I think there's a place for honoring the accomplishments of
successful and accomplished soldiers without getting into
the politics of the cause they served. Rommel, Lee, Napoleon's
Marshals, and many others who don't fit our current ideology
as to what is 'right' are treated this way; why let something that
is a bit more current be filter?


Just my opinion. I am, obviously, a product of my upbringing.

Just as others are allowed to laud this general's record, I am allowed to provide my view.

Other's view will, necessarily, vary.
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calandale wrote:
I think there's a place for honoring the accomplishments of
successful and accomplished soldiers without getting into
the politics of the cause they served. Rommel, Lee, Napoleon's
Marshals, and many others who don't fit our current ideology
as to what is 'right' are treated this way; why let something that
is a bit more current be filter?


I get what you're saying. But Giap helped turn his country into a basket case in the manner of his (later) generalship.
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essayons7 wrote:
Given the fact that he led a force that was fighting to enslave the free (albeit, corruptly led) members of his divided country, I don't see much cause for warm reflection.

Minh and Giap primarily fought to liberate their country from foreign occupation. The fact that this liberation movement was led by Marxists was simply a matter of chance. Suffice to say the Vietnamese Marxists in the beginning were but a diminutive minority consisting only of a handful of people in the major cities. (That's also how a history teacher rose to become the highest ranking general - nobody else was available.) Only because they were organized the best, did all liberation parties rally behind the Marxists to form the Communist Party of Vietnam after the Japanese occupation had ended. It might have just as easily been any other ideology. (Also see Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" on the interchangeability of mass movements.)

EDIT: My above view is mostly based on the autobiography of Ernst Frey; who became a French foreign legionnaire as way to flee from the Nazis (he was Jewish), defected and joined the Vietnamese Marxists in their early beginning, personally knew Giap, fought under him and later trained soldiers and officers for him.

essayons7 wrote:
[...] 55,000 of my fellow countrymen lost their lives to prevent that - no matter how misguided the policy may or may not have been.

I'm not moved.

To the Vietnamese people the USA simply continued the occupation of their country after the French, Japanese and the French (again). Given that the USA were founded by the same liberation ideology and a progressive one to boot, you might feel a little more sympathy. Of course by the 20th century the USA have turned into a conservative country most concerned about upholding a global status quo, whereby also supporting tyrants with much worse policies than the Vietnamese. You should blame your country's foreign policy for the deaths of your fellow countrymen.
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Herr Dr wrote:
He was very taken with La vallée de la mort...


At least someone in the world was thrilled with that particular game.
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Simon Mueller wrote:
essayons7 wrote:
Given the fact that he led a force that was fighting to enslave the free (albeit, corruptly led) members of his divided country, I don't see much cause for warm reflection.

Minh and Giap primarily fought to liberate their country from foreign occupation. The fact that this liberation movement was led by Marxists was simply a matter of chance. Suffice to say the Vietnamese Marxists in the beginning were but a diminutive minority consisting only of a handful of people in the major cities. Only because they were organized the best, did all liberation parties rally behind the Marxists after the Japanese occupation to form the Communist Party of Vietnam. It might have just as easily been any other ideology. (Also see Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" on the interchangeability of mass movements.)

essayons7 wrote:
[...] 55,000 of my fellow countrymen lost their lives to prevent that - no matter how misguided the policy may or may not have been.

I'm not moved.

To the Vietnamese people the USA simply continued the occupation of their country after the French, Japanese and the French (again). Given that the USA were founded by the same liberation ideology and a a progressive one at that to boot, you might feel a little more sympathy. Of course by the 20th century the USA have turned into a conservative country most concerned about upholding a global status quo. (Therefore the support for tyrants with much worse policies than the Vietnamese.) You have only your foreign policy to blame for the deaths of your fellow countrymen.


I have nothing but sympathy for the Vietnamese people, as they have borne the brunt of the communist policies; whether one wants to refute that and defend the communist government, that's entirely up to the individual. Nonetheless, America's policy to stand up against communism was a good one, although I doubt a supporter of communism would admit that.

EDITED FOR SPELLING
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RandomLetters wrote:
>You'll not get my copy, mwahaha!

For those who don't know Roy, he is a gent and a friend of mine for many years now. Roy was kind enough to provide me just enough Citadel materials to know what I am missing!


 
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essayons7 wrote:
While the death of an individual is always cause for reflection and sympathy for the loss suffered by friends and family members, I am not prepared to wax poetically on this death.

Given the fact that he led a force that was fighting to enslave the free (albeit, corruptly led) members of his divided country, I don't see much cause for warm reflection.

If, as happened with post-WW2 Germany and Japan, a better nation emerged from the unification, perhaps I'd be more inclined. However, religious persecution and other unsavory practices still occur within the united country, and 55,000 of my fellow countrymen lost their lives to prevent that - no matter how misguided the policy may or may not have been.

I'm not moved.

I really didn't want to get all RSP-ish about it, but that's just the way I see it.


Of course, it all might've been different if the US/CIA hadn't directly interfered with Viet politics (much like in Iran in the 1950s) and leant support for the killing of Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother in 1963 in that US-backed coup. But we'll never know since this is, ultimately, a pot and kettle problem. (The Soviets are equally to blame in other countries, of course.)

My chief issue with Giap was his callous disregard for his soldiers lives, something I think General Westmoreland said several times.
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Many, many, many moons ago I walked into a store and saw "Citadel" sitiing on the shelf. Picked it up and looked at it and decided I did not want to spend 13.00 hard earned dollars on it. It sat there for another year till they were going out of business and I saw it was marked down to 7.00. Wow what a deal. I still have it and play it. Never trade it at all.

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DaveyJJ wrote:
essayons7 wrote:
While the death of an individual is always cause for reflection and sympathy for the loss suffered by friends and family members, I am not prepared to wax poetically on this death.

Given the fact that he led a force that was fighting to enslave the free (albeit, corruptly led) members of his divided country, I don't see much cause for warm reflection.

If, as happened with post-WW2 Germany and Japan, a better nation emerged from the unification, perhaps I'd be more inclined. However, religious persecution and other unsavory practices still occur within the united country, and 55,000 of my fellow countrymen lost their lives to prevent that - no matter how misguided the policy may or may not have been.

I'm not moved.

I really didn't want to get all RSP-ish about it, but that's just the way I see it.


Of course, it all might've been different if the US/CIA hadn't directly interfered with Viet politics (much like in Iran in the 1950s) and leant support for the killing of Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother in 1963 in that US-backed coup. But we'll never know since this is, ultimately, a pot and kettle problem. (The Soviets are equally to blame in other countries, of course.)

My chief issue with Giap was his callous disregard for his soldiers lives, something I think General Westmoreland said several times.


I couldn't agree with you more, on both points.
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Steve Carey wrote:
Herr Dr wrote:
He was very taken with La vallée de la mort...


At least someone in the world was thrilled with that particular game.


I've got that game sitting on my shelf. I should really play it sometime.
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Simon Mueller wrote:
essayons7 wrote:
Given the fact that he led a force that was fighting to enslave the free (albeit, corruptly led) members of his divided country, I don't see much cause for warm reflection.

Minh and Giap primarily fought to liberate their country from foreign occupation. The fact that this liberation movement was led by Marxists was simply a matter of chance. Suffice to say the Vietnamese Marxists in the beginning were but a diminutive minority consisting only of a handful of people in the major cities. (That's also how a history teacher rose to become the highest ranking general - nobody else was available.) Only because they were organized the best, did all liberation parties rally behind the Marxist to form the Communist Party of Vietnams after the Japanese occupation had ended. It might have just as easily been any other ideology. (Also see Eric Hoffer's "The True Believer" on the interchangeability of mass movements.)

EDIT: My above view is mostly based on the autobiography of Ernst Frey; who became a French foreign legionnaire as way to flee from the Nazis (he was Jewish), defected and joined the Vietnamese Marxists in their early beginning, personally knew Giap, fought under him and later trained soldiers and officers for him.

essayons7 wrote:
[...] 55,000 of my fellow countrymen lost their lives to prevent that - no matter how misguided the policy may or may not have been.

I'm not moved.

To the Vietnamese people the USA simply continued the occupation of their country after the French, Japanese and the French (again). Given that the USA were founded by the same liberation ideology and a progressive one to boot, you might feel a little more sympathy. Of course by the 20th century the USA have turned into a conservative country most concerned about upholding a global status quo, whereby also supporting tyrants with much worse policies than the Vietnamese. You should blame your country's foreign policy for the deaths of your fellow countrymen.


I suppose it is outside the scope of this forum to get into a detailed argument about these issues, but I will say this: I have had the privilege of knowing a number a Vietnamese people. They were all good Catholics. To them, the views you are putting forward would seem to be extreme and delusional. The fact is that the Communist government of Vietnam was and still is a ruthless tyranny.

Americans, back when this country still had a moral compass, fought and died to protect the Vietnamese people from falling under the yoke of tyrants. That we through our own deficiencies and limitations failed to save them does not, except in the most nightmarish Hegelian fantasy, demonstrate that this cause was unjust.
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Just like we can appreciate Admiral Yamamoto's skills and accomplishments without being a supporter of imperial Japan, I think it's possible to appreciate General Giap's military resume without being a fan of communist North Vietnam. I can relate in both cases. As a military history buff and wargamer, I can appreciate what these men accomplished in their respective wars, even though my dad was a World War Two Pacific veteran and my cousin, who grew up down the block from me, was killed in Vietnam.

All that being said, I also do not have any motivation to wax poetic on the passing of this man. I don't see him as a heroic figure, and my former college roommate, a former South Vietnamese naval ensign, probably doesn't either.

As for Giap's callous disregard for his men's lives, is this so different from the standard Soviet or Chinese communist army approach of the time? The Russians in WW2 threw waves of barely trained infantrymen at the Germans, and during the Korean War, the Chinese launched their men in human wave attacks against UN forces. I have to believe that Giap would have taken on the doctrine of his primary suppliers/trainers.
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Requete wrote:
Americans, back when this country still had a moral compass, fought and died to protect the Vietnamese people from falling under the yoke of tyrants. That we through our own deficiencies and limitations failed to save them does not, except in the most nightmarish Hegelian fantasy, demonstrate that this cause was unjust.

"Still" had a moral compass? When was it lost? The invasion of Iraq? The military intervention in Libya? Not interested in dragging this into an elongated discussion about war and politics, but I think by now it should be very clear that it's not possible to export virtues through warfare.

desertfox2004 wrote:
As for Giap's callous disregard for his men's lives, is this so different from the standard Soviet or Chinese communist army approach of the time? The Russians in WW2 threw waves of barely trained infantrymen at the Germans, and during the Korean War, the Chinese launched their men in human wave attacks against UN forces. I have to believe that Giap would have taken on the doctrine of his primary suppliers/trainers.

I assume it's the only way to wage war successfully against an enemy superior in all regards (technology, training, etc.).
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During the ACW, the Union Generals always did their utmost to minimize human casualties ... whistle
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Simon Mueller wrote:

desertfox2004 wrote:
As for Giap's callous disregard for his men's lives, is this so different from the standard Soviet or Chinese communist army approach of the time? The Russians in WW2 threw waves of barely trained infantrymen at the Germans, and during the Korean War, the Chinese launched their men in human wave attacks against UN forces. I have to believe that Giap would have taken on the doctrine of his primary suppliers/trainers.

I assume it's the only way to wage war successfully against an enemy superior in all regards (technology, training, etc.).


Agreed - all three armies referenced, WW2 Soviet, Korean War Chinese, and Vietnam's NV, were in the same position - facing a technologically superior army with greater firepower, but inferior in raw numbers. Also, in at least two of the three cases (Soviets, Vietnamese), they faced western armies with higher sensitivity to casualties due to political considerations at home. These combination of factors certainly encouraged the Sov's, Chinese, and NV under Giap to throw bodies at their enemies in hopes of breaking their morale (or at the least, the morale of the civilian populations back home).
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Mallet wrote:
During the ACW, the Union Generals always did their utmost to minimize human casualties ... whistle


Well, at least one worried about it.
IIRC there was a story of Burnside commenting to his staff during the Battle of Fredericksburg saying, "Those men, those poor men! I am thinking of them all the time!" Of course, turning that thought into reality and avoiding 13,300 casualties...
 
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Well done Võ Nguyên Giáp, you have earned your place of honour in the struggle against colonialism and helped your country resist American interference. Few can say the same.



Where are the talented microbadge makers when you need one...
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Giap was not stupid, but he did act prematurely at two critical times which led to wasted lives and materiel.

He was premature in calling for a revolt in Haiphong in November 1946, which massed his not well trained fighters (remember, he presided over huge inflations of the Viet Minh at the same time as Ho was seeking a political solution) there where the French could use unrestricted firepower, and got them driven out into the Viet Bac - it took almost two years until they were built back up to strength.

He was premature in his launching a General Offensive in the first half of 1951.
There were three separate battles during the offensive (Vinh Yen, Mao Khe, and along the Day River), and Giap lost them all.
Giap was criticized for launching this final offensive, but his critics forget that Giap had just inflicted a considerable military defeat on the French (the battle for Route Coloniale 4, which prised them away from the border with China and built his logistical base) and shattered their morale.
The causes of his defeat were several: the unexpected energy of General de Lattre's responses to his attacks; his failure to appreciate the effects of air and naval support; the inflexibility and unimaginativeness of his offensive tactics (although to be fair, this was in part forced on him by his inexperienced staff); and finally, the simple fact that he was operating on exterior lines with neither good strategic mobility nor the ability to attack simultaneously all along the perimeter of the Delta.
He also proved unable to prevent the French from switching forces inside the Delta to where they were needed, even though he had significant forces behind the French lines.

But he did better, and learned from his mistakes.
Giap's tactics at Dien Bien Phu were also unimaginative, but once he had managed to neutralize the French artillery advantage, it was just a matter of time.
He was keenly aware of the political and moral impact of the battle; he knew that a complete defeat of the French here would bring an end to the war once and for all.
This was not just another battle to him (as it was for the French), and so he probably thought the loss in lives was worth it.

Brian
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