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Why did France lose the war?

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  • Why did France lose the war?

    Interesting. Especially in regard to the man in the street in France.
    My apologies if this has been posted before.
    http://wordpress.aber.ac.uk/interpol...exander-frost/

  • #2
    Good read. Seems a study would have helped the US avoid exactly the same thing later on.
    SPORTS FREAK/ PANZERBLITZ COMMANDER/ CC2 COMMANDER

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    • #3
      Essentially, they lost because they applied the Legion model of controlling African Sahara by placing strong points along the trade routes to a nation in which unrestricted travel was possible, strong points could be easily bypassed, and the weather prevented outposts from being properly reinforced.

      More simply, they re-invented the failed Maginot Line in Indochina.

      They also completely ignored one of the most basic dogmas in combat - you MUST always control the high ground.
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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      • #4
        If France 'lost the war', they certainly didn't lose it as badly as we did. Their goal to re-establish their colony was dead by 1948. Thereafter their goal was to preserve the Indochinese states as Associated States within the French Union. All DBP was obtain recognition of the DVRN north of the 17th Parallel, and recognition of the State of Vietnam south of it. None of the parties other than the Viet Minh expected that division to end with elections. Within the context of the Cold War, all the others assumed it would be permanent, much as with two Germanies and Koreas.

        As for Marshall Program being siphoned off to underwrite the war, while that is a common meme, I've never seen it supported with facts, not even by Tony Judt. If you compare the Marshall Plan monies received by the recipient countries, you will note a symmetry between the monies granted (many of which were loans), the depth of war damage and destruction suffered, and their relative populations (UK #1, France #2). And the first Marshall Plan disbursements didn't take place until 1948/49 when the Indochina War was well underway and a military assistance program to France and the Associated States already being drawn up. As noted on other threads in this forum.

        As for the 100,000 French in the CEFEO, that is just under two times the actual highest number, and well below the effective number taking into account the North African, Black African, Legion, and Indigenous troops serving within French units at the height of the war.

        Otherwise, a good article in many ways. France's internal divisions are noted, but I wish more attention had been payed to the effective bankruptcy of the far right due to cooperation with the occupying Germans, and the real role of the Left in the hard years of the French resistance, as opposed to the last minute resistants of August 1944.
        dit: Lirelou

        Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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        • #5
          Why did France lose the [First Indochina] war?
          In my view, it was poor strategy produced by too much subjective thinking and too little objective thinking. Giap was clearly too smart for the French generals.
          在魔鬼和深蓝色的海洋之间. 悪魔と深海の間. Carpe hunc diem.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Redzen View Post
            In my view, it was poor strategy produced by too much subjective thinking and too little objective thinking. Giap was clearly too smart for the French generals.
            I may be wrong but I'm under impression that the problem was more political that military. While Dien Bien Phu was an operational failure a quite similar operation at Na San in 1952 had been sucessful.

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            • #7
              Mwetryll, that is correct, however the French were intelligent enough to withdraw from Na San, using the ruse that they were reinforcing, just as the rainy season began. And Na San was about 96 kilometers closer to Hanoi.
              dit: Lirelou

              Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Metryll View Post
                I may be wrong but I'm under impression that the problem was more political that military. While Dien Bien Phu was an operational failure a quite similar operation at Na San in 1952 had been sucessful.
                Tactical success is no substitute for strategic victory. History is littered with examples of battles and other military operations that were tactical victories but strategic defeats.
                在魔鬼和深蓝色的海洋之间. 悪魔と深海の間. Carpe hunc diem.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Redzen View Post
                  Tactical success is no substitute for strategic victory. History is littered with examples of battles and other military operations that were tactical victories but strategic defeats.
                  This perfectly summarizes US military involvement in Vietnam as well.
                  You'll live, only the best get killed.

                  -General Charles de Gaulle

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Redzen View Post
                    Tactical success is no substitute for strategic victory. History is littered with examples of battles and other military operations that were tactical victories but strategic defeats.
                    See your point but French commanders could only use what Government left them to work with. In 1946 Leclerc stated that about 500.000 soldiers were needed (close to US peak commitment btw). By 1950 about 170.000 were available. And decision to send more was mainly political, not military.

                    Of course, victory would not have been automatic with more soldiers, but with less than military though to be needed, there was very slim chances of success.

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                    • #11
                      In 1946 Leclerc stated that about 500.000 soldiers were needed (close to US peak commitment btw).
                      Metryll: Pardon me if this is repetitive, but the French had all of Indochina to defend, while we had roughly half of Vietnam. When I ask the Vietnamese veterans of the French Army what the French were best at, the answer is the inevitably employment of personnel. As for the US Army, they rate it higher in logistics.
                      dit: Lirelou

                      Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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                      • #12
                        Historian set up "eras" to make socio-economical-technological advancement easier to understand.

                        The WW1 was the end of European Colonialism - due exhaustion of Europe's strenght/will in a massive bloodletting and subsequent political upheaval and redrawing of maps in Europe.

                        The USG realized that with the Phillipines and ! in earnest ! prepared the PHL for real independence - sure with a very positive relationship to the USA in mind.

                        The British did the same with India and their other colonies. The former British colonies nearly all have some resemblance of parliamentary order.

                        The leading French polticians of 1920s/1930s were all children of hurt French pride after 1870s Prussian-French War. They were incapable of accepting a gradual independence/transistion in 1920/30s.

                        Something, which persist until this day with some former French colonies in Africa, whose currencies are still tied to the (Franc) Euro and with French military bases on their soil and their economies/elites are still tigh-knit with the French ones.

                        The refusal to allow the "awakened" - but not pro-French - segment of Indochina's population to formulate their visions in public & in peace, drove them into an umcompromising position.

                        Without persecution Le Duan & his crew might have form a national-conservative party with roots in urban working-class, small business owners and formed up a coalition with Troung Chinh's rural-conservatives of small farmers and rural craftsmen & other traditionalists.

                        If the pro-French urbanites would have been less ass-kissing & less smug, they could have attracted alot of people, who harboured sympathy for Western concepts/technology and are willing to have a cordial relationship with the French under the label of a national-liberal party und willing to go with a gradual indepedence-process.

                        HCM & the small group of true-believers would have stay a small fringe Communist Party.

                        Unfortunately the Hoa Lo Academy - later known as Hanoi Hilton - only offered 3 different degrees: hardcore communist, dedicated communist and dead communist.

                        The West/USA later made a 2nd mistake of not allowing the victorous Communists (at that time being dominated by Internationlists' faction around HCM) to have their Yugoslavian-style victory. This paved the road for the uncompromising South-First/national-conservative faction and more bloodshed.

                        In fact since 1986 the West now does what it should have done since the late 1920s: Making a fortune by helping the Vietnamese National-Conservatives & Technocrats to modernize the country. On Vietnamese terms.
                        On the other hand the Vietnamese establishment accepts the fact it needs the West to modernize the country. True mutual respect has only developed since the Doi Moi era.

                        The French lost the Indochina War before the beginning of WW2. The Indochina War itself was damage-control.
                        Tolerance and apathy are the last virtues of a dying culture. Aristotle

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                        • #13
                          The French lost the Indochina War before the beginning of WW2. The Indochina War itself was damage-control.
                          Good point. During WWI the French had seventy thousand Indochinese troops in the French Army outside of Indochina (Mostly in France, but also on the Eastern Front and in Siberia) and slightly over a thousand Indochinese War Workers. Those troops and workers expected to become French citizens and return to an Indochina that valued their service. Such was not the case. Moreover, their experience in France had awakened them to the reality of French life. It wasn't all Gay Paree. Out in the provinces, the average French farming family lived a life very much like the average Vietnamese peasant. And more to the point, the French in France respected them as equals, unlike the Colons back home.

                          IF France had wanted to retain Indochina, their window of opportunity was 1919-1939. Your other posts have touched admirably on why this wasn't so.
                          The sad truth appears to be, they didn't really want to keep it as much as they couldn't bring themselves to let it go.
                          dit: Lirelou

                          Phong trần mài một lưỡi gươm, Những loài giá áo túi cơm sá ǵ!

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                          • #14
                            La Sale Guerre was finally over for France, but it had been nothing short of a catastrophe. Indecision, infighting, instability and disinterest [sic] plagued both the French political community and its under-resourced military during the war.
                            Just how did indecision, infighting, instability, and uninterest plague the French armed forces in Indochina? And how were the French armed forces in Indochina under-resourced with the U.S. bankrolling 80 percent of French war effort in Indochina and supplying the overwhelming bulk of heavy arms and other war materiel for France's Indochinese war?
                            在魔鬼和深蓝色的海洋之间. 悪魔と深海の間. Carpe hunc diem.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lirelou View Post
                              Metryll: Pardon me if this is repetitive, but the French had all of Indochina to defend, while we had roughly half of Vietnam. When I ask the Vietnamese veterans of the French Army what the French were best at, the answer is the inevitably employment of personnel. As for the US Army, they rate it higher in logistics.
                              [My bold: R.Z.]

                              Exactly. The French were clearly undermanned for the task they had set themselves in Indochina. But were they under-gunned?
                              在魔鬼和深蓝色的海洋之间. 悪魔と深海の間. Carpe hunc diem.

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