Southeast Asia Studies Seminar Program
The MacMillan Center at Yale University
Oct 12 , 2011

"Le Duan and the Political Struggle for Peace in Vietnam"
Sophie Quinn Judge, Associate Director, Center for Vietnamese Philosophy, Culture and Society, Temple University

The story of diplomatic efforts to avert conflict in Vietnam often ignores the complex politics of Vietnam, south and north. This talk will focus on Vietnamese attempts to neutralize the South, starting with the post-Geneva era, extending to the DRV diplomacy of 1962 and finally, the interegnum of General Duong Van Minh in 1963. Although Le Duan is known as the major promoter of military struggle after 1954, new information from a Vietnamese study of the Resistance in the Western Mekong Delta shows Le Duan as a skilful political organizer in the months after the Geneva Accords divided Vietnam. He hoped to maintain communist influence in the south by ordering the infiltration of southern revolutionaries into the local government militias and armed forces of the religious sects after 1954. The Cao Dais who took refuge in Phnom Penh in 1955, after Diem's attack on their Tay Ninh base, joined a campaign organized by expatriate Vietnamese to call for a neutral South Vietnam. Their relations with the southern communists is one question this talk will explore. The NLF program of 1960 and a DRV diplomatic proposal, designed by Le Duan in 1962, continued to advocate a neutral South Vietnam. The final point of this talk will examine the popularity of the neutral idea within South Vietnam and efforts by Gen. Minh to move from military to political competition.

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