By Lawrence S. Kaplan
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Extra info for Dien Bien Phu and the crisis of Franco-American relations, 1954-1955
It seemed axiomatic that Indochina, which shared a lengthy border with China, was next in line. S. intelligence alleged, had specifically targeted Southeast Asia for revolutionary activity, and Ho Chi Minh was an avowed Communist. Furthermore, as early as World War II, American analysts had concluded that "today there is understood to be in Southern China a group of Annamites [Vietnamese] which advocates independence for Indochina and seeks Chinese support. "44 After the war it appeared to Washington that the Chinese Communist party (CCP) had "played an Page 9 unusually large role" in supporting the Vietminh.
1 This commitment is even more perplexing because of Washington's lack of interest in Indochina prior to World War II. 2 Even following Pearl Harbor, military planners subsumed Indochina within the low-priority China-Burma-India theater. Still, due to the role Vietnam in particular played in the Japanese campaign, the region gradually took on a unique strategic significance. 3 But if Vietnam's location proved an asset while hostilities remained confined, then by 1940 it represented a potential liability in the event that the conflict widened.
3 But if Vietnam's location proved an asset while hostilities remained confined, then by 1940 it represented a potential liability in the event that the conflict widened. 4 Indeed, Japan did have such designs. . 6 The Roosevelt administration feared that Japan's advance into southern Indochina endangered America's potential allies in Europe, jeopardizing their access to vital resources and otherwise taxing their military capabilities. Equally menacing, the expansion threatened the United States directly by all but encircling the Philippines.
Dien Bien Phu and the crisis of Franco-American relations, 1954-1955 by Lawrence S. Kaplan