A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, October 4, 2013

Vo Nguyen Giap Dies at 102; Theorist of Anti-Colonial War Inspired Many in the Middle East

Vo Nguyen Giap has died at 102. You may think he had nothing to do with the Middle East, but consider this for a moment: His greatest victory, defeating France at the siege of Dien Ben Phu in March to May 1954, defeated French colonialism and drove France out of Indochina. Just six months later, in November 1954, the crown jewel of the French Empire, Algeria, began its war of independence. Giap had shown a colonial European power could be decisively defeated.

Giap had begun his fight against the Japanese, carried on to drive France out of Indochina, and later Americans made his acquaintance as an adversary in the Vietnam or Second Indochina War.

As a theorist of guerrilla war he ranks with Mao Zedong, and his approach was emulated in colonial wars of independence throughout the world. And he lived on to complete his first century, though he came to be somewhat critical of the Vietnamese government's authoritarianism.

1 comment:

David Mack said...

Unfortunately for Iraq, Saddam Hussein, who fancied himself a military genius, took the wrong lesson from Giap's success.