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Le Duan, the American War, and the Creation of an Independent Vietnamese State

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Since the end of the Vietnam War thirty years ago, Western scholars have made countless attempts at explaining that conflict's course and rationalizing its outcome. These attempts have considered a wide variety of elements ranging from the personalities of those involved in the decision- making process in Washington to the technologies used by American forces against their enemies in Indochina. Ironically, few scholars have considered the element that may have been most important in determining the outcome of the war, mainly the North Vietnamese leadership. As a result, little is known about the nature of that leadership. For many Western scholars, Ho Chi Minh inspired the North Vietnamese war effort, Vo Nguyen Giap coordinated it, and Pham Van Dong, as prime minister of the Democratic Republic of (North) Vietnam (DRVN), supervised the implementation of Ho and Giap's policies. That others may have been involved and influential in the decision-making process in Hanoi is rarely considered in Western scholarship. We accept the notion that the Ho-Giap-Dong axis led the effort against the United States, and the zeal of the North Vietnamese people carried Hanoi to victory.


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