The below reports and articles were published on the internet by CNN in 1997, a year later they were taken off the internet. These are in my judgement to important to be lost to the public. My lawyer says I can publish them as long as I have no montitary gain, so if someone dosen't like it they can sue my ass; rotes of ruck
Dien Bien Phu
The 1954 battle that changed Vietnam's history
By Bruce Kennedy
It is seen by many military scholars as one of the great battles of the 20th century -- and a defining moment in the history of Southeast Asia. And yet the Battle of Dien Bien Phu receives rarely more than a passing mention in most history texts.
After World War II, France was able to reinstall its colonial government in what was then known as Indochina. By 1946 a Vietnamese independence movement, led by communist Ho Chi Minh, was fighting French troops for control of northern Vietnam. The Viet Minh, as the insurgents were called, used guerrilla tactics that the French found difficult to counter.
In late 1953, as both sides prepared for peace talks in the Indochina War, French military commanders picked Dien Bien Phu, a village in northwestern Vietnam near the Laotian and Chinese borders, as the place to pick a fight with the Viet Minh.
"It was an attempt to interdict the enemy's rear area, to stop the flow of supplies and reinforcements, to establish a redoubt in the enemy's rear and disrupt his lines," says Douglas Johnson, research professor at the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute. "The enemy could then be lured into a killing ground. There was definitely some of that thinking involved."
Hoping to draw Ho Chi Minh's guerrillas into a classic battle, the French began to build up their garrison at Dien Bien Phu. The stronghold was located at the bottom of a bowl-shaped river valley, about 10 miles long. Most French troops and supplies entered Dien Bien Phu from the air -- either landing at the fort's airstrip or dropping in via parachute.
Dien Bien Phu's main garrison also would be supported by a series of firebases -- strongpoints on nearby hills that could bring down fire on an attacker. The strongpoints were given women's names, supposedly after the mistresses of the French commander, Gen. Christian de Castries. The French assumed any assaults on their heavily fortified positions would fail or be broken up by their artillery.
The size of the French garrison at Dien Bien Phu swelled to somewhere between 13,000 and 16,000 troops by March 1954. About 70 percent of that force was made up of members of the French Foreign Legion, soldiers from French colonies in North Africa, and loyal Vietnamese.
Viet Minh guerrillas and troops from the People's Army of Vietnam surrounded Dien Bien Phu during the buildup within the French garrison. Their assault on March 13 proved almost immediately how vulnerable and flawed the French defenses were.
Dien Bien Phu's outlying firebases were overrun within days of the initial assault. And the main part of the garrison was amazed to find itself coming under heavy, withering artillery fire from the surrounding hills. In a major logistical feat, the Viet Minh had dragged scores of artillery pieces up steeply forested hillsides the French had written off as impassable.
The French artillery commander, distraught at his inability to bring counterfire on the well-defended and well-camouflaged Viet Minh batteries, went into his dugout and killed himself.
The heavy Viet Minh bombardment also closed Dien Bien Phu's airstrip. French attempts to resupply and reinforce the garrison via parachute were frustrated -- as pilots attempting to fly over the region found themselves facing a barrage from anti-aircraft guns. It was during the resupply effort that two civilian pilots, James McGovern and Wallace Buford, became the first Americans killed in Vietnam combat.
The supply planes were forced to fly higher, and their parachute drops became less accurate. Much of what was intended for the French forces -- including food, ammunition and, in one case, essential intelligence information -- landed instead in Viet Minh territory. Meanwhile, the Viet Minh steadily reduced the French-held area -- using what their commander, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, called "a tactic of combined nibbling and full-scale attack."
Closed off from the outside world, under constant fire, and flooded by monsoon rains, conditions inside Dien Bien Phu became inhuman. Casualties piled up inside the garrison's hospital.
Dien Bien Phu fell to the Viet Minh on May 7. At least 2,200 members of the French forces died during the siege -- with thousands more taken prisoner. Of the 50,000 or so Vietnamese who besieged the garrison, there were about 23,000 casualties -- including an estimated 8,000 killed.
The fall of Dien Bien Phu shocked France and brought an end to French Indochina.
"The very first memory I have of talking foreign affairs with my father was when Dien Bien Phu fell," Anil Malhotra, a World Bank official from India, said in a recent interview. "It was a source of great pride in the developing world. A small Asian nation had defeated a colonial power, convincingly. It changed history."
Following the French withdrawal, Vietnam was officially divided into a communist North and non-communist South -- setting the stage for U.S. involvement.
In 1963, as Washington was deepening its commitment in Vietnam, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev made a telling remark to a U.S. official.
"If you want to, go ahead and fight in the jungles of Vietnam," Khrushchev said. "The French fought there for seven years and still had to quit in the end. Perhaps the Americans will be able to stick it out for a little longer, but eventually they will have to quit, too
THE KEY PLAYERS
Ho Chi Minh
Son of a nationalist father, Ho was born on May 19, 1890, in Kimlien, Nghe-An province, in central Vietnam. After receiving his initial education from his father and at a village school, Ho studied at the Lycee Quoc-Hoc in the old imperial capital of Hue. It was a school designed to perpetuate Vietnamese nationalist traditions. In 1912 he went to France, where he worked at many odd jobs and became active in socialist politics and as an advocate of Indochinese independence. During World War I he visited the United States. At the Versailles peace conference, he petitioned the delegates on behalf of Vietnamese self-determination but was ignored. In 1920 Ho became a founding member of the French Communist Party.
He went to Moscow in 1922, joined the Comintern and met with Lenin. In 1925 he went to China to work for the Soviet mission with Chiang Kai-Shek's government. After Chiang turned on the communists in 1927, Ho fled to Moscow. During the 1930s he founded the Indochinese Communist Party, studied in Moscow and fought alongside Mao. In 1940 he returned to Vietnam. He founded the Viet Minh, the League for the Independence of Vietnam.
On September 2, 1945, Ho and his league declared Vietnamese independence. When the French colonial rulers tried to reassert their authority, Ho settled for nominal autonomy as a member of the French Union. The French-Vietnamese truce broke in late 1946 (broke by the French), initiating a war that ended in 1954 with the Vietnamese victory at Dien Bien Phu. At the following Geneva conference, Ho allowed his Chinese and Soviet friends to pressure him into a highly unsatisfactory compromise that divided Vietnam in two. From that time Ho's primary goal was the reunification of Vietnam. He pursued this particularly through support of the Viet Cong guerrillas fighting the Southern government. Even though South Vietnam received ever-increasing support from the United States (which after 1964 began to bomb the North), Ho remained confident of victory and rejected negotiations with Washington. Only in 1968, after the U.S. bombardments of North Vietnam stopped in the wake of the Tet Offensive, did his government agree to talks. Shortly after this turning point in the war, Ho died of a heart attack at the age of 79 on September 3, 1969.
One of the most charismatic U.S. presidents in history, John Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, in Boston into a prominent, wealthy Irish Catholic family. His father, Joseph P. Kennedy, served as U.S. ambassador to Britain from 1938 to 1940. The time in Europe enabled John to write "Why England Slept," a best seller. Kennedy was a Harvard graduate, also having attended Choate Preparatory School. During World War II, he served in the Navy, commanding a PT boat that was sunk by the Japanese in 1943. His wartime experience led to another successful book and helped launch his political career. Probably as important in this regard were the political ambitions Joseph Kennedy had for his children. After the war death of his older brother Joe, John became the focus of his father's hopes, benefiting greatly from his contacts and money.
In 1946, Kennedy was elected to the House of Representatives. He posed as an anti-communist, conservative Democrat. In 1952, he defeated Henry Cabot Lodge in the race for the latter's Senate seat. As a senator, Kennedy did not build an impressive legislative record. By 1954, however, he began to speak out on foreign policy issues and in 1956 made his first bid for his party's presidential nomination.
In 1960 Kennedy again ran for president. He attacked the Eisenhower administration for lacking vigor in the contest with the Soviet Union. Kennedy defeated Eisenhower's vice president, Richard Nixon, in the closest presidential race in history. In the White House, Kennedy suffered some early setbacks, such as the failed Bay of Pigs operation and the tense Vienna meeting with Soviet leader Khrushchev. The early failures only added fuel to his administration's military buildup. The president wanted U.S. forces to be more diversified than they were under his predecessor, so as to acquire "flexible response" capability instead of having to rely on nuclear weapons.
Later in 1961 Kennedy appeared to be hitting his stride. In August he responded with restraint to the building of the Berlin Wall and the following year performed brilliantly during the Cuban Missile Crisis, the peaceful resolution of which is probably his greatest triumph. In 1963, the United States and Soviet Union agreed on a limited test ban treaty. Kennedy's legacy in Vietnam is more ambiguous. He increased the number of U.S. advisers from 700 to 15,000 and brought the conflict no closer to a resolution. In the domestic field Kennedy also grew while in office, eventually becoming quite supportive of the civil rights movement in the South. On November 22, 1963, Kennedy was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald during a visit to Dallas, Texas. He was 46.v
Born on August 27, 1908, into a poor family in the Texas hill country, Lyndon Johnson was an average student but also seemed a natural leader among his peers. In 1927, he entered Southwest Texas State Teachers College. A prominent student, Johnson worked his way through school, graduating in three years. Next he taught English in Houston. In 1932, Johnson went to Washington as a legislative assistant to Representative Richard Kleberg. Doing most of the work, he became quite versed in the ways of Washington. In 1937, he ran for Congress himself as a Roosevelt New Dealer. In 1941, he ran for the Senate in a special election and lost. But he retained his House seat and continued his rise to prominence among congressional Democrats. During the war, Johnson served for a few months in a non-combat position.
In 1948, Johnson ran again for the Senate, defeating his Democratic primary opponent in a runoff by only 87 votes amid loud accusations of fraud. He easily won the general election in the fall. In the Senate, Johnson quietly but quickly rose to prominence. In 1952, he became the Democratic leader in the Senate. He has been recognized as one of the ablest parliamentarians in U.S. history. In 1960, he sought his party's nomination for president but had to settle for the vice presidential slot, behind John Kennedy. As vice president, Johnson seemed out of place, with little of significance reaching his desk. That changed radically when Kennedy's assassination thrust him into the Oval Office in 1963.
Johnson's presidency was a tragedy. Highly successful at home in getting his "Great Society" and civil rights legislation passed, his work was increasingly overshadowed by the war in Vietnam. A believer in the "domino theory," and concerned about becoming the first U.S. president to lose a war, Johnson steadily deepened the country's involvement until, in 1968, more than 500,000 U.S. soldiers were fighting in Southeast Asia. After the Tet Offensive, and in the face of mounting domestic protests against the war, he announced in March 1968 that he would not seek re-election. He left office with his "Great Society" programs threatened by insolvency, and his party and the nation as a whole deeply divided over the Vietnam War. Johnson died on January 22, 1973, at his Texas ranch at age 64.
Born on January 9, 1913, in Yorba Linda, California, into a lower-middle-class Quaker family, Richard Nixon had a difficult childhood. In school he was an ambitious student, but not one who excelled. Upon graduation, he entered Whittier College. Nixon graduated second in his class and won a scholarship to Duke University law school, where he graduated third in his class. He returned to California and took a job at a law firm in Whittier. Nixon served in the Navy during World War II.
After the war, Nixon ran successfully for Congress. He quickly distinguished himself as one of Congress' most fervent anti-communists, leading the charge against accused spy Alger Hiss. In 1950, Nixon was elected to the Senate. He was picked as a running mate in 1952 by Republican presidential candidate Dwight Eisenhower. As vice president, he took an active interest in national security affairs. In 1960, Nixon waged a vigorous campaign for the presidency, losing to Democrat John F. Kennedy in the closest presidential race in U.S. history. Perhaps more bitter was his defeat in the 1962 California gubernatorial campaign. He declared his withdrawal from politics, but instead built a strong national political base which, in 1968, enabled him to win the White House.
In domestic politics, Nixon was a pragmatic president who continued many of his Democratic predecessors' programs. In foreign policy, he sought "peace with honor" in the Vietnam War, in the end achieving neither. But under his leadership, the war in Vietnam did come to a halt. Nixon also sought to improve the U.S. strategic position in the Cold War. He forged a new, more cooperative relationship with the Soviet Union and achieved a diplomatic revolution through his normalization of U.S. relations with China. However, Nixon's secret methods not only exposed him to fierce criticism at home, but ultimately also undermined some of the achievements themselves. Nixon's ongoing obsession with political enemies resulted in the Watergate scandal, and in August 1974 Nixon became the first U.S. president to resign. Afterward, Nixon wrote a number of books on international affairs and, toward the end of his life, was somewhat rehabilitated as a foreign policy expert. Nixon died in Saddle Creek, New Jersey, on April 22, 1994, at age 81.