Giap dans la presse octobre 2013

Dernier ajout : 14 octobre 2013.

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biographie du général Giap
Oct 12th 2013

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General Giap
Vo Nguyen Giap, who drove both the French and the Americans out of Vietnam, died on October 4th, aged 102

AFTER his great victory at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, which pushed the French colonial power to the peace table in Geneva, Vo Nguyen Giap (above, top left) took a tour of the battlefield. The red earth was dark with enemy blood. Cartridges, barbed wire and fragments of shells lay all over it ; unburied corpses were busy with yellow flies. In one of the artillery posts the mess of papers on the floor included a letter from the defending general to his wife. General Giap, once a history teacher, thought it would be worth preserving in the records of a free Vietnam.

This victory had been a long time in the making. The French had fortified the valley, in north-west Tonkin on the border with Laos, so he had taken his troops into the mountains that encircled it. The French thought the hills impassable : craggy, forested, foggy, riddled with caves. General Giap recalled the words of his hero Bonaparte, whose battle plans he was sketching out with chalk when he was still at the Lycée in Hue : “If a goat can get through, so can a man ; if a man can get through, so can a battalion.” Slowly, stealthily, in single file, 55,000 men took up positions there, supplied by 260,000 coolies with baskets, 20,000 bicycles and 11,800 bamboo rafts. Artillery was carried up in sections. From this eyrie, trenches and tunnels were dug down until they almost touched the French. The enemy never stood a chance.

Here were Bonaparte’s maxims again : audace, surprise. A dash, too, of Lawrence of Arabia, whose “Seven Pillars of Wisdom” General Giap was seldom without. And plenty of Mao Zedong, whose three-stage doctrine of warfare (guerrilla tactics, stalemate, offensive warfare) he had fully absorbed during his brief exile in China, for communist activity, in the early 1940s.

The key to all his victories, as Mao advised, was his people’s army. The French might be professionals straight out of Saint-Cyr, but they did not know what they were fighting for. The Americans who came in later – when Vietnam had been divided and an anti-communist regime had been set up in the South – might bomb his forces from B-52s and poison them with defoliants, but the GIs did not want to be there. His men, by contrast, were fighting to free their own land. From the start, in 1944, he had drilled his tiny musket-and-flintlock resistance army in the ideology of the struggle, setting up propaganda units to indoctrinate peasants in their villages. The result was a guerrilla force that could live off the land, could disappear into it (as along the labyrinthine Ho Chi Minh trail that supplied, through jungle paths and tunnels, communist fighters in the South from the North) and was prepared, with infinite patience, to distract and harry the enemy until he gave in. This was fighting à la vietnamienne. It took the general 30 years, from Vietnam’s declaration of independence from France in 1945 to the fall of Saigon, the southern capital, in 1975, to make his vision reality.

A volcano under snow
Not that he was a populist, exactly. His father had been a lettré, a local scholar, as well as a farmer ; he himself had a law degree. He was dapper, reviewing his troops in a white suit, trilby and club tie ; even in a mountain cave, diminutive and smiling, he looked fresh as a flower. He wrote poetry, and his French was impeccable. The French, though, could see through that to the hatred that burned beneath, ever since the deaths of both his father and his first wife, after brutal torture, in French prisons. They called him “a volcano under snow”.
Nonetheless, he made an improbable soldier. He had no training, and would never have become a military commander, he said, if Ho Chi Minh, the leader of the Vietminh forces and later of North Vietnam, had not decided it for him. He first met Ho (above, top right) in China, realised they had been to the same school, and idolised him, from his tufty beard to his white rubber sandals. He called him “Uncle” ; Ho called him “beautiful as a girl”.

In government, where he was in charge of “revolutionary order” as well as the troops, the political and military progress of the revolution were strictly co-ordinated. Both Dien Bien Phu and the multi-target Tet offensive of 1968 (which he still masterminded, though he was in eastern Europe at the time) were meant to inflict massive demoralisation on the enemy, and to turn the French and American people against the war itself. In both battles the Vietnamese too took huge casualties, which he did not dwell on. He was proud, hot-tempered, blustered into a number of unnecessary pitched battles – but won his two wars, just the same, demonstrating irresistibly to the rest of the colonised world that a backward peasant country could defeat a great colonial power.

After Ho’s death in 1969 he lost influence, and envious colleagues pushed him aside. Some said he was an indifferent communist ; he disliked the hardline clique that ran the country, and in old age publicly attacked the party for corruption and bauxite-mining. He remained a huge hero in Vietnam, whose re-emergence as a united and prospering country gave him great joy. Revolutionary work, he wrote once, was largely foresight : knowing not just what the enemy might do tomorrow but also how, in future, the world was going to change. On the bloody field of Dien Bien Phu, he saw that with absolute clarity.
October 11, 2013

Vietnam sees rare public mourning for hero general

By TRAN VAN MINH and CHRIS BRUMMITT / Associated Press

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang, second left, and former President Tran Duc Luong, left, pay respects to late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap at the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Vietnam Saturday, Oct. 12, 2013. Vietnam’s top leaders gathered to pay their last respects to the military mastermind who drove the French and the Americans out of Vietnam, who died last week at 102. (AP Photo/Hoang Dinh Nam, Pool)

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – The death of wartime Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap has triggered public mourning in Vietnam the likes of which have been unseen since Ho Chi Minh passed away more than four decades ago. And given the current leaders, it may not be witnessed again, according to many of the 150,000 people who lined up to pay respects to the so-called ‘‘Red Napoleon.’’

The ruling Communist Party orchestrated the sendoff for Giap, emphasizing his leadership in the wars first against France and then United States. But it ignored his later years, when the general’s popularity allowed him to air rare public criticism of the ruling elite.

Still, the death of the country’s last old guard revolutionary inevitably stirred reflection by some on the country’s current leaders, only one of whom fought against the Americans. Giap’s passing comes as the government is struggling against public dissatisfaction over corruption and a faltering economy.

‘‘I’m not sure we will have a third leader like Giap and Uncle Ho, ‘‘ said Tran Thi Thien, who rose at 3 a.m. to pay tribute outside the Giap family home in Hanoi this past week. ‘‘I hope the current leadership would look at how people love and respect Gen. Giap to improve themselves and better lead the country.’’

On Saturday, Giap’s body was laid in state in Hanoi. The country’s top leaders, along with veterans and diplomats, paid their final respects ahead of Giap’s funeral Sunday in his home province. Afterward, members of the public were allowed to pay their respects, with tens of thousands of people waiting in a line that stretched about three kilometers (two miles).
Nguyen Thi Phuong, a 30-year-old woman from Hanoi, waited for five hours before being able to pay her last respects to Giap. ‘‘My 6-year-old daughter asked me why do you go to his funeral ? I told her we go to pay our highest respect to a man without whom we and the nation could not have what we have today,’’ she said.

The national flag was flown at half-staff, and unrelated public events were canceled. The country’s cable television provider blocked access to international sports and entertainment channels from Friday until Sunday.

Among the crowds watching coverage of ceremony on a big screen in a park close to the funeral home was an Italian Communist, who had traveled to Hanoi to join the mourners.
‘‘In the ‘60s and ‘70s, we were shouting ‘Giap, Giap, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam will win,’’’ said Polo Giovanni. ‘‘And Vietnam won, and this represented hope for my generation and for humanity.’’

The mourning period has gone smoothly in a country where very little happens in public without the blessing of the ruling party. State media coverage projects a united nation, bolstering a government whose legitimacy still rests in part on its history of expelling foreign invaders.

But here and there, cracks have appeared : News of Giap’s death first spread over Facebook, a wrinkle that would have underlined to the old guard how information now flows beyond their control. The public mourning was also unscripted. Some 150,000 people lined up over five days outside Giap’s house to pay their respects, an outpouring of emotion that surprised his family, according to Giap’s personal secretary, Col. Trinh Nguyen Huan.

Giap is best remembered for leading Vietnamese forces to victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
His Chinese advisers told him to strike elite French forces fast and hard, but Giap changed plans at the last minute and ordered his jungle troops, clad in sandals made of old car tires, to besiege the French army. The French were defeated after 56 days, and the unlikely victory led not only to Vietnam’s independence, but hastened the collapse of colonialism across Indochina and beyond.

‘‘He was an outstanding general, but he was a very simple man and very down to earth,’’ said Nguyen Chan, a 78-year-old who fought in Dien Bien Phu in 1954 and on Saturday was watching the ceremony on the big screen. ‘‘For us, he was a commander in chief, a teacher and also a father.’’

Throughout most of the war against the United States, Giap was defense minister and armed forces commander, but he was slowly pushed aside after Ho Chi Minh’s death in 1969. The glory for victory in 1975 didn’t go to Giap.

He stepped down from his last state post, as deputy prime minister, in 1991. But despite losing favor with the government, he became even more beloved by the Vietnamese people. At age 97, Giap opposed the proposed expansion of a bauxite mine, in part because it was to be operated by a Chinese company. This angered the party because it helped legitimize charges by its critics that Vietnam’s party is too close to its fellow Communists in China, the subject of popular nationalist anger in Vietnam.

‘‘Giap was a critical figure in contemporary Vietnam history, however one part of his life will always be associated with his question of authority,’’ said Jonathan London, a Vietnam expert at the City University of Hong Kong. ‘‘His legacy will be used as badge of legitimacy for the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, but this is occurring at a time when Vietnamese are questioning the direction of their country.’’
Associated Press / October 13, 2013

Thousands bid farewell to Vietnamese war hero


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Members of a Vietnamese honor guard carry a picture of the late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap head of his coffin during his funeral at the National Funeral House in Hanoi, Vietnam Sunday, Oct. 13, 2013. Hundreds of thousands of people lined the 40-kilometer (25-mile) route from the capital to the airport Sunday morning to bid their last farewell to the legendary war hero who led the Vietnamese to victory over the French and then the Americans. Giap, who died on Oct. 4 at age 102, was revered in Vietnam only second to his mentor, former President Ho Chi Minh. (AP Photo/Na Son Nguyen)

HANOI, Vietnam (AP) – Hundreds of thousands of people flooded the streets of Vietnam’s capital on Sunday to bid a final farewell to the legendary war hero who led the poor Southeast Asian nation to victory over the French and then the Americans.

‘‘Long live Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap,’’ people chanted, many in tears, as his flag-draped coffin passed by on a truck-drawn artillery carriage. The procession traveled along a 40-kilometer (25-mile) route from the national funeral house in downtown Hanoi to the airport. Crowds of people, both young and old, lined the route, in places 10 deep.

Giap, who died Oct. 4 at age 102, was revered in Vietnam only second to his mentor, former President Ho Chi Minh. Alongside the public outpouring of emotion, the government orchestrated an elaborate send-off for the general, seeking to use the moment to foster national unity at a time of discontent and economic malaise.

After the war, Giap was sidelined by the Communist Party, and toward the end of his life emerged as something of a critic, shielded from consequence because of his popularity. State-controlled media has been awash in eulogy for him since his death, but neglected to mention that chapter of his life.

‘‘You, comrade, have made a great and excellent contribution to the revolutionary cause of our party and nation,’’ Communist Party chief Nguyen Phu Trong said in a eulogy read out at the funeral house. ‘‘Your personality and your great contribution were strongly imprinted in the heart of the people.’’
Following the funeral, Giap’s body was flown to his home province of Quang Binh in central Vietnam, with hundreds of thousands of people lining the 70-kilometer (43-mile) route from the airport to his burial site.
The burial ceremony was attended by President Truong Tan Sang and other top officials and broadcast live on state television.
Giap was buried in Quang Binh instead of the Mai Dich cemetery in Hanoi, where most high-ranking Vietnamese officials are traditionally buried, in accordance with his and his family’s wishes.

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Giap is best remembered for leading Vietnamese forces to victory over the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
His Chinese advisers told him to strike elite French forces fast and hard, but Giap changed plans at the last minute and ordered his jungle troops, clad in sandals made of old car tires, to besiege the French army. The French were defeated after 56 days, and the unlikely victory led not only to Vietnam’s independence, but hastened the collapse of colonialism across Indochina and beyond.
Throughout most of the war that followed against the United States, Giap was defense minister and armed forces commander, but he was slowly pushed aside after Ho Chi Minh’s death in 1969. The glory for victory in 1975 didn’t go to Giap.

‘‘No words can describe how much love and respect people reserve for Gen. Giap,’’ 71-year-old Nguyen Thi Vi, from the central province of Ha Tinh, said as she waited in the crowd in Hanoi to pay her final respects.
‘‘I feel like I lost one of my relatives,’’ she said. ‘‘Gen. Giap will live forever in the heart of Vietnamese people and we may not witness another great man like him. We should set up temples to honor him and where people can go and pay their respect.’’
HANOI | Sun Oct 13, 2013 10:32am EDT

Vietnam pays last respects to ’Red Napoleon’, Vo Nguyen Giap

By Nguyen Phuong Linh

Soldiers hold up the portrait of the late General Vo Nguyen Giap as his coffin is carried during his funeral at the National Funeral House in Hanoi October 13, 2013. Credit : Reuters/Kham
HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnamese poured into the capital on Sunday to bid farewell to Vo Nguyen Giap, the general who masterminded historic defeats of France and the United States to become one of the 20th century’s most important military commanders.

Crowds lined the streets of Hanoi cheering, crying and holding aloft pictures of "Red Napoleon", a national legend with a domestic standing second only to the leader of Vietnam’s struggle against colonialism, Ho Chi Minh.

Giap died on October 4, age 102, after four years in a Hanoi military hospital.
Short, slightly built and a man of no formal military training, Giap was ranked by historians among giants such as Montgomery, Rommel and MacArthur for victories over vastly better equipped armies that ushered in the end of foreign intervention and cemented communist rule in Vietnam.

"He was the general of the people, always in the people’s hearts and in history," said Nguyen Phu Trong, general secretary of the ruling party that Giap’s forces brought to power in 1975 after driving the United States out of what was then a democratic South Vietnam.
"This is a big loss," Trong said in a speech at his state funeral, broadcast live on national television.

Hundreds of thousands thronged to catch a glimpse of Giap’s coffin as it was driven on a military vehicle past an unbroken line of mourners to an airport 30 km (18 miles) away. Giap’s body will be flown to his home province of Quang Binh for burial.

The funeral has brought a show of unity that Vietnam’s current generation of leaders have struggled to foster in a country where three quarters of the 90 million population were born long after Giap’s battlefield victories.

Though the Vietnam that Giap helped to liberate from Western control has seen unprecedented development and stability, discontent simmers over land ownership laws, entrenched graft and an economy growing at its slowest pace in 13 years.

"I never heard guns or bombs but I know our history," said Dao Huy Hoang a 21-year-old Hanoi student.
"After Uncle Ho and General Giap, it would be hard to find anyone like them, who dedicate their lives to the country without thinking of their personal interest."

Television and radio played somber music during the two-day funeral as people queued for hours to view the flag-draped coffin of the man they call the "big brother" of the nation.
Giap’s critics spoke of his ruthless tactics and willingness to sustain heavy losses in pursuit of victory, his most notable, the humiliation of the French at Dien Bien Phu in 1954, which heralded the end of colonialism worldwide.
His textbooks on guerrilla warfare inspired revolutionaries and insurgents the world over. He once said any army fighting for freedom "had the creative energy to achieve things its adversary can never expect or imagine".

In the decade leading to his death, Giap started to mellow. His post-war political role was short-lived and he was dropped by the all-powerful politburo in 1982 before taking roles as head of committees overseeing science and family planning.
In a 2004 interview with Reuters, Giap recalled signing a book while on a trip to the United Nations in Geneva with the words "Vo Nguyen Giap, General of Peace".

In a speech, Giap’s eldest son, Vo Dien Bien said the motivation of his father and the troops who served under him was to build a peaceful, unified Vietnam.
"In his death, his spirit will combine with the spirit of tens of millions of Vietnamese to become one harmonized power for a strong and wealthy Vietnam," Bien said.

Those who travelled to see Giap’s coffin expressed their thanks to him for winning independence. Among them was To Xuan Thanh, a 60-year-old dressed in his old army uniform, who rode a motorcycle for 200 km (125 miles) to Hanoi.
"The general’s words and actions remain bright for all the veterans, not only in the war but in peace time," he said.

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(Editing by Martin Petty and Robert Birsel)
Published : October 9, 2013

For America, Life Was Cheap in Vietnam


OBITUARIES of Vo Nguyen Giap, the Vietnamese general who helped drive the American military from his country, noted, as The New York Times put it, that “his critics said that his victories had been rooted in a profligate disregard for the lives of his soldiers.”

The implication is that the United States lost the war in Vietnam because General Giap thought nothing of sending unconscionable numbers of Vietnamese to their deaths.
Yet America’s defeat was probably ordained, just as much, by the Vietnamese casualties we caused, not just in military cross-fire, but as a direct result of our policy and tactics. While nearly 60,000 American troops died, some two million Vietnamese civilians were killed, and millions more were wounded and displaced, during America’s involvement in Vietnam, researchers and government sources have estimated.

Enraged, disgusted and alienated by the abuse they suffered from troops who claimed to be their allies, even civilians who had no inclination to back our opponents did so.

Now, four decades later, in distant lands like Pakistan and Afghanistan, civilians are again treating the United States as an enemy, because they have become the collateral damage of our “war on terror,” largely unrecognized by the American public.

In more than a decade of analyzing long-classified military criminal investigation files, court-martial transcripts, Congressional studies, contemporaneous journalism and the testimony of United States soldiers and Vietnamese civilians, I found that Gen. William C. Westmoreland, his subordinates, superiors and successors also engaged in a profligate disregard for human life.

A major reason for these huge losses was that American strategy was to kill as many “enemies” as possible, with success measured by body count. Often, those bodies were not enemy soldiers.

To fight its war of attrition, the United States declared wide swaths of the South Vietnamese countryside to be free-fire zones where even innocent civilians could be treated as enemy forces. Artillery shelling, intended to keep the enemy in a state of constant unease, and near unrestrained bombing slaughtered noncombatants and drove hundreds of thousands of civilians into slums and refugee camps.

Soldiers and officers explained how rules of engagement permitted civilians to be shot for running away, which could be considered suspicious behavior, or for standing still when challenged, which could also be considered suspicious. Veterans I’ve interviewed, and soldiers who spoke to investigators, said they had received orders from commanders to “kill anything that moves.”

“The Oriental doesn’t put the same high price on life as does the Westerner,” Westmoreland famously said. “Life is plentiful, life is cheap in the Orient.”
Having spoken to survivors of massacres by United States forces at Phi Phu, Trieu Ai, My Luoc and so many other hamlets, I can say with certainty that Westmoreland’s assessment was false.

Decades after the conflict ended, villagers still mourn loved ones – spouses, parents, children – slain in horrific spasms of violence. They told me, too, about what it was like to live for years under American bombs, artillery shells and helicopter gunships ; about what it was like to negotiate every aspect of their lives around the “American war,” as they call it ; how the war transformed the most mundane tasks — getting water from a well or relieving oneself or working in the fields or gathering vegetables for a hungry family – into life-or-death decisions ; about what it was like to live under United States policies that couldn’t have been more callous or contemptuous toward human life.

Westmoreland was largely successful in keeping much of the evidence of atrocities from the American public while serving as Army Chief of Staff. A task force, known as the Vietnam War Crimes Working Group, operating out of his Pentagon office, secretly assembled many thousands of pages of investigative files about American atrocities, which I discovered in the National Archives.

Despite revelations about the massacre at My Lai, the United States government was able to suppress the true scale of noncombatant casualties and to imply that those deaths that did occur were inadvertent and unavoidable. This left the American public with a counterfeit history of the conflict.

Without a true account of our past military misdeeds, Americans have been unprepared to fully understand what has happened in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and elsewhere, where attacks on suspected terrorists have killed unknown numbers of innocent people. As in Vietnam, officials have effectively prevented the public from assessing this civilian toll.
We need to abandon our double standards when it comes to human life. It is worth noting the atrocious toll born of an enemy general’s decisions. But, at the very least, equal time ought to be given to the tremendous toll borne by civilians as a result of America’s wars, past and present.

Nick Turse is a historian and journalist and the author of “Kill Anything That Moves : The Real American War in Vietnam.”