Causes of the French Indochina War
Causes of the French Indochina War describe the events and actions that led to the uprising of Viet Minh against French rule in 1946. The French Indochina War was a military conflict between France and communist Vietnamese, mainly from the North. Fought from 1946 to 1954, the war marked the first phase of the Indochina Wars. Lasting about eight years, the conflict gave Vietnamese guerrilla troops a sense of confidence and motivation towards gaining their independence.
Although there are various debates about the specific causes of the French Indochina War, there is a clear documentation of the actual events which took place prior to the conflict and during its cause. These are the main elements which should be used in analyzing the causes of the first Indochina War between France and Vietnamese forces. At the end of the war, Viet Minh were able to muscle down French forces, leading to the signing of Geneva Accords.
The Main Causes of the French Indochina War
The following are some of the main elements that are believed to have caused the military conflict between France and Viet Minh.
Oppressive French rule
France had been in Vietnam since the 1880s and even re-named it Indochina after colonizing several parts of South East Asia. Until 1946, Vietnam had been under the rule of France, which used the policy of divide and rule across the land. The French had split Vietnam into the Northern and Southern States. Towards the beginning of the war, the North (Democratic Republic of Vietnam), mainly comprised of communists had elected Ho Chi Minh.
Ho Chi Minh was not pleased with the French political and social policies, which he described as aimed at keeping the nation inferior. In order to express his dissatisfaction with the French and drive them out of Vietnam, he organized a force made up of guerrilla fighters. It is the same force that he used to crash France to defeat.
Appointment of Bao Dao as leader of South Vietnam
By 1949, Ho Chi Minh and his troops had been able to make significant advances in scaring away French forces from their territory. Not willing to just give up yet, France moved south of Vietnam and created the State of Vietnam. To avoid losing their influence, France installed Bao Dao, who had been cooperative with them as leader of the state.
The move by France did not go down well with many Vietnamese and it neighbors, who felt that it was just another way of ensuring the continuity of French domination over Indochina. This led to another twist in the war, whereby Ho Chi and his troops again attacked the French and Bao Dao’s forces.
Other Causes of the French Indochina War
Apart from the events described above, it is argued that communism also played a key role in the war. Although the Republic of Vietnam had been ruled by France for so long, a majority of its leaders and people were more inclined to communist ideals, contrary to the French way of politics.
The element of communism was confirmed when the Communist Party of China began supplying Vietnamese guerrilla fighters with military equipment to fight the French. In fear of the spread of communism, the United States offered financial support and military equipment to France, which heightened the war. However, the US did not fully get engaged in the conflict until later in the 1950s after the defeat of France by Vietnam.
Conclusion- Causes of the French Indochina War
Although historians argue there are several causes of the French Indochina War, the discussion above reveals that the conflict was mainly ignited by the Vietnamese people’s quest for independence. In creating a unit of guerrilla fighters, Ho Chi Minh’s main agenda was to drive out the French not only from the North where he ruled but entire Vietnamese territory. In fact, that is why he moved on south to launch an attack on Bao Dao and French forces even after scaring them away from the Republic of Vietnam. After the fall of South Vietnam state, Ho Chi Minh installed a communist-dominated regime to ensure that all elements of French rule were eliminated.
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