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French public opinion and the Indochina War. Poils and testimonies - Alain Ruscio

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  1. A misunderstood war
  2. The active opinion and the war
  3. Impopular army, impopular war

The document I will present is an article from the french history review, entitled « French public opinion and the Indochina War. Poils and testimonies » published in Vingtième Siècle. Revue d'histoire in 1991. It was written by Mr. Ruscio Alain, specialist of french colonial history. Today, he's managing an association bringing to the public a large amount of documents about Vietnam. In other words, he's supporting the fact that history has to be popularized and shared to everyone interested in. His article focuses on the point of view of the public opinion about the Indochina war between 1945 and 1954, opposing France and the Viet Minh, fighting for independence.

[...] Nobody knew what they lived there until Diên Biên Phu. But above all, a gap has been created between the army and the nation. Mr. Jean Hougron who lived 5 years in Indochina noticed that many soldiers were no more recognized by their families, their friends, even their wife. In fact, they became strangers. But Mr Navarre knew that this war was too far to concern the french people, to make her participate. As time passed by, other priorities took place like war in Algeria. [...]

[...] Paul Coste Floret said that there were no more military problem in Indochina and as a matter of fact it was a total success. With the disaster of Diên Biên Phu, people believed that politics have in fact hidden the reality of the war. In 1954, the french opinion is irritated and morally down. Defaitism was also denounced by Mr Navarre, the general who leaded the operation. With the circumstances, politic parties not very talkative until this date asked the negociation about the end of the war. [...]

[...] But it was too marginal to provoke a real engagement for the cause and mobilize the mass. During the war, opposition was also present but depended of politic parties and the date. For instance, a poll in 1947 asking for who was in favor to a negociation or independance plus the repatriation of the troops, shown that 37% agreed. In 1954, this percentage raised to 60% but it was always 100% for the communist part. Finally, Indochina held attention when this subject was integrated in famous debats of this period and the communism propaganda in France succeeded to use it : the struggle for peace, the fight against oppresion. [...]

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