Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Last days of Ho Chi Minh

In  1963Ho corresponded with South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem in the hope of achieving a negotiated piece. This correspondence was a factor in the US decision to tacitly support a coup against Diem later that year.
In late 1964, North Vietnamese Combat troops were sent southwest into neutral Laos. During the mid to late 1960s, Le Duan permitted 320,000 Chinese volunteers into Northern North Vietnam to help build infrastructure for the country, thereby freeing a similar number of North Vietnamese forces to go south.
By early 1965, US combat troops began arriving in South Vietnam  to counter the threat imposed by both the local Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese troops in the border areas.As the fighting escalated, widespread bombing of North Vietnam by the US Air Force and Navy escalated as Operation Rolling Thunder.  
Ho remained in Hanoi for most of the duration of his final years, stubbornly refusing to negotiate with the Americans and demanded nothing but an unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops in South Vietnam.    
By July 1967, Ho and most of the Politburo of North Vietnam met in a high-level conference where they concluded that the war was not going well for them since the American military blunted every attempt by the Peoples army of Vietnam to make gains, and inflicted heavy casualties. But Ho and the rest of his govt. knew that there were two weaknesses ; 1. there was still no disguising the continuing ineffectiveness of large portion of the South Vietnamese army, shielded by US fire power, and 2. that American public opinion was not wholeheartedly in favor of the war. With Ho,s permission, the north Vietnamese army and politicians planned to execute the Tet Offensive as a gamble to take the South by force and defeat the US military.
Although the offensive was a huge tactical failure which resulted in the decimation of whole units of Viet Cong,   the end result was a moral victory for it broke the US will to fight the war and public opinion in the US  turned against the Govt. which resulted in the bombing of North Vietnam halted, and negotiations with US officials opening as to how to end war.
By 1969, with negotiations still dragging on , Ho's health began to deteriorate from multiple health problems, including diabetes among other ailments, which prevented him from participating in further active politics. However, he insisted that his forces in South Vietnam continue fighting  until all of Vietnam was reunited under his Govt., regardless of the length of time that it might take, believing that time and politics were on his side.