Assess the Consequences of the Vietnamese Victory Against the French for Indochina in the Period 1954–1964. (25 Marks 2007 Hsc) Essay
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Fundamentally, Vietnamese victory in 1954 marked a postponement of conflict in Vietnam, not its end. It was catastrophic for France’s international and domestic concerns and it had a major but not decisive impact on the 1954 Geneva Conference. As Geneva ensured the division of Vietnam, the Vietnamese victory was going to affect the development of the two halves of the country, which in turn would lead to the creation of the National Liberation front.
The Geneva Conference was attended by the four major powers of the world, the USA, the Soviet Union, Britain and France. It was also attended by nine delegations, the US, the Soviet Union, Britain, France, China, Cambodia, Laos, the Vietminh and the Bao Dai government of South Vietnam. Many of the parties did not make direct contact with each other with a constant danger of one or more delegates walking out. Ho Chi Minh’s dream was to have an independent and unified Vietnam, however, there was much pressure placed on him to accept a divided Vietnam. Ho was backed by the Soviet Union for their own purposes and China as it feared another Korea style confrontation in Indochina.
In the end, Laos and Cambodia both became independent under royalist governments with French forces withdrawing. The major agreement of the conference was Vietnam being divided into two at the 17th parallel. A ten kilometre demilitarised zone was established between the two states (North and South). A 300 day period of legal migration for the North and South was allowed. Elections were to take place in July 1956 to determine the future of a unified Vietnam. The North was run by the Vietminh and the South by the French-sponsored Bao Dai government. Overall, the conference was full of tension, secret meetings and in the end it was a compromise which satisfied no one which is the view Karnow, making it of little significance.
Following the ravages of