Saturday, May 5, 2012

American-Funded Mercenaries in Indochina

here is much truth in the belief that the United States fought the Japanese to protect English and French colonial interests in the Far East, and iron in the words of Eisenhower calling attention to the military-industrial complex which profits handsomely from perpetual war. Few Americans in 1950 knew of how much of their money was going to prop up the French colonial regime in Indochina, and never imagined that over 55,000 Americans would later die in Vietnam.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

American-Funded Mercenaries in Indochina:

“Whatever the formula for peace, the French Government recognized that it was no longer entirely a free agent in Viet Nam. Even in 1953, at the time of the Viet Minh invasion of Laos which occasioned so much alarm abroad, when certain members of the French Cabinet were reported to favor a request to the United Nations for help, they were overruled – partly to avoid foreign discussion and intervention in the affairs, not only of Indochina, but of the French Union generally; and partly out of fear that the United Nations intervention would precipitate Chinese intervention on the side of the Viet Minh, creating a situation similar to that which had prevailed in Korea.

At the same time, however, the French Government sought and received aid from its allies (from the signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty in 1952 and from the British and American Governments on various occasions and at Bermuda in 1953) an endorsement of its war effort as vital to the defense of the free world. And it also sought and received substantial military and economic aid, mostly from the United States.

Certain highly-placed French officials were once reported as fearful of allowing American aid to reach fifty percent of the total French military effort in Indochina, on the theory that the United States would then be in “the zone of political demands.”

By 1954, the American Government was paying about eighty percent of the total French military expenditures in the Associated States. American aid, which began in 1950, had averaged $500 million annually and included ammunition, vehicles, aircraft, naval vessels, small arms and automatic weapons, hospital supplies and technical equipment, which were delivered directly to the French Union forces under the supervision of an American Military Assistance Advisory Group (MAAG). In 1953, on the basis of military plans drawn up by General Navarre and a French pledge “to intensify prosecution of the war” and make “every effort to break up and destroy regular enemy forces in Indochina,” the United States promised France an extra $385 million.”

(The Struggle For Indochina, Ellen J. Hammer, Stanford University Press, 1954, pp. 313-314)

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