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"The conventional army loses if it does not win. The guerrilla wins if he does not lose."

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Ho Chi Minh

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Ho Chi Minh


Ho Chi Minh became involved in the French socialist movement and was a founding member of the French Communist party in 1920. He studied revolutionary tactics in Moscow, and, as a Comintern member, was sent (1925-27) to Guangzhou, China. While in East Asia, he organized Vietnamese revolutionaries and founded the Communist party of Indochina (later the Vietnamese Communist Party).

In the 1930s, Ho lived mainly in Moscow and China. He finally returned to Vietnam after the outbreak of World War II, organized a Vietnamese independence movement (the Viet Minh), and raised a guerrilla army to fight the Japanese.

He proclaimed the republic of Vietnam in September 1945, and later agreed that it would remain an autonomous state within the French Union. Differences with the French, however, soon led to an open break. Warfare lasted from 1946 until 1954, culminating in the French defeat at Dienbienphu.

After the Geneva Conference in 1954, which divided Vietnam at the 17th parallel, Ho Chi Minh became the first president of the independent republic of North Vietnam. The accord also provided for elections to be held in 1956, aimed at reuniting North and South Vietnam; however, South Vietnam, backed by the United States, refused to hold the elections. The reason was generally held to be that Ho Chi Minh's popularity would have led to reunification under Communist rule.

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