The George Washington of Vietnam, for what it's worth. He progressed from
guerrilla leader to President-for-Life (though I don't think he was officially the prez). To merely dismiss him as a "communist" probably misses a lot of valuable points. Which might explain why his side won the war, though by the time that happened, he'd been dead for five years or so.

     A 20th century nationalist in Vietnam who formed Vietnam's first and only Communist party and dedicated it to fighting for independence from the French. While fighting the French from 1945 to 1954, Vietnam was split into two sides. The North (capital at Hanoi), which was Communist-occupied and the South (capital at Saigon), which was still controlled by the French.

     Through the Geneva accords, free elections were to be held in the North and the south to obtain a new leader for a unified Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh would have easily won, so the South Vietnamese dictator, Ngo Diem, refused to participate in the sanctioned elections. The U.S. fully supported Diem's action, and this started some rebellion in the South by people who came to be known as the Viet Cong.

     The leader of the Viet Minh and folk hero of Vietnam, he was supported universally by the Vietnamese as a national hero. He died, unfortunately many years before the war ended, and his goal to be alive to see a unified Vietnam was never attained.

b.1890 d.1969
Born Nguyen Sinh Cung, as Ho Chi Minh he became the leader of a Vietnamese nationalist movement that fought against the French, the Chinese, the Japanese, the Americans and eventually secured an independent and unified Vietnam.

Born into a family with strong nationalist feelings, Ho left Vietnam in 1911 working as a ship's cook. Working aboard ship he would travel to Africa, Europe, and the United States. While abroad he helped found the French Communist Party in 1920. He then travelled to study revolutionary tactics in Moscow. In 1924 the Comintern sent him to China as a communist agent. It was in China that he assumed the name he would make famous; from the identification papers he bought that had been taken off a dead chinese man.

Ho's travels abroad as a communist agent landed him in numerous troubles. In 1929 he was sentenced to death by the French for his rebel activities. He escaped to England - where he was again imprisoned. In 1941, back in China again, he was arrested by the Chinese government (under Chiang Kai-shek) as a French spy. He escaped to southern China where he began building the League for the Independence of Vietnam or Viet Minh. During World War II Ho also served as an agent for the United States Office of Strategic Services (OSS) -- which later became the CIA.

The Japanese had taken control of Vietnam during World War II and it was they whom the Viet Minh were organized to fight against. In 1945 the Japanese granted Vietnam its independence -- and Vietnam was ruled by Emperor Bao Dai. The Viet Minh formed a government in exile with Ho Chi Minh as President. When the Japanese were defeated, ending World War II, Bao Dai stepped down and in September 1945 Ho assumed control of his Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

Ho was always a pragmatic leader. He was never so much an ideologue as a nationalist -- using ideology, communism in his case, as a means to achieve an independent Vietnamese state. He tried to work with the French after World War II, but they were unwilling to grant the Vietnamese independence. So, for eight years the Viet Minh fought the French, finally defeating them decisively in 1954 at Dien Bien Phu.

The victory did not result in Ho's goal of a unified and independent Vietnam. In 1956 international intervention resulted in Vietnam being divided into two parts -- North and South. Elections were scheduled to unify the country, but the United States reneged on these plans and instead supported puppet governments in the south for the next 20 years.

Not to be deterred, Ho organized a guerrilla movement in the South, the National Liberation Front or Viet Cong. The Viet Cong would eventually drive the United States from Vietnam, but at great cost. Ho would not live to see his goal of a unified independent Vietnam. He died in 1969, while the United States retreated from Vietnam in 1975.

One of the first acts the unified government undertook was to rename Saigon, once capital of the south, Ho Chi Minh City. Ho's body lies on display in Vietnam's capitol, Hanoi, just as the Russians had displayed Lenin's body in Moscow before the fall of communism in that country.

Noung says Ho Chi Minh means "He who enlightens" and that his birth name was Nguyen Sinh Cung. Nguyen Tat Thanh was the name given to him upon entering adolescence and means; "He who will succeed"

To His Excellency Mr. Lyndon B. Johnson,
President, United States of America

Your Excellency,

On February 10, 1967, I received your message. This is my reply. Vietnam is thousands of miles away from the United States. The Vietnamese people have never done any harm to the United States. But contrary to the pledges made by its representative at the 1954 Geneva conference, the U.S. has ceaselessly intervened in Vietnam, it has unleashed and intensified the war of aggression in North Vietnam with a view to prolonging the partition of Vietnam and turning South Vietnam into a neocolony and a military base of the United States. For over two years now, the U.S. government has, with its air and naval forces, carried the war to the Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam, an independent and sovereign country.

The U.S. government has committed war crimes, crimes against peace and against mankind. In South Vietnam, half a million U.S. and satellite troops have resorted to the most inhuman weapons and most barbarous methods of warfare, such as napalm, toxic chemicals and gases, to massacre our compatriots, destroy crops, and raze villages to the ground. In North Vietnam, thousands of U.S. aircraft have dropped hundreds of thousands of tons of bombs, destroying towns, villages, factories, schools. In your message, you apparently deplore the sufferings and destruction in Vietnam. May I ask you: Who has perpetrated these monstrous crimes? It is the United States and satellite troops. The U.S. government is entirely responsible for the extremely serious situation in Vietnam.

The U.S. war of aggression against the Vietnamese people constitutes a challenge ot the countries of the socialist camp, a threat to the national independence movement, and a serious danger to peace in Asia and the world.

The Vietnamese people deeply love independence, freedom and peace. But in the face of U.S. aggression, they have risen up, united as one man, fearless of sacrifices and hardships. They are determined to carry on their resistance until they have won genuine independence and freedom and true peace. Our just cause enjoys strong sympathy and support from the peoples of the whole world, including broad sections of the American people.

The U.S. government has unleashed the war of aggression in Vietnam. It must cease this aggression. This is the only way to restoration of peace. The U.S. government must stop definitely and unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, withdraw from South Vietnam all U.S. and satellite troops, recognize the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation, and let the Vietnamese people settle themselves their own affairs. Such is the basis of the five-point stand of the government of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, which embodies the essential principles and parovision of the 1954 Geneva Agreements on Vietnam; it is the basis of a correct political solution to the Vietnam problem.

In your message your suggested direct talks between the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the United States. If the U.S. government really wants these talks, it must first of all stop unconditionally its bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. It is only after the unconditional cessation of U.S. bombing raids and all other acts of war against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam that the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the U.S. could enter into talks and discuss questions concerning the two sides.

The Vietnamese people will never submit to force, they will never accept talks under threat of bombs.

Our cause is absolutely just. It is to be hoped that the U.S. government will act in accordance with reason.

Ho Chi Minh,
February 15, 1967

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