The Geneva Conference of 1954 on Indochina by James Cable

By James Cable

The Geneva Agreements of 1954 have been broadly welcomed. They ended a seven-year conflict in Indochina; gave France a dignified go out; avoided wider clash. In later years first americans and Vietnamese, then Russians, chinese language, Cambodians or even Laotians attempted to strength Indochina into diverse styles in their personal devising. those new wars prompted via rejection of the Geneva compromise lasted longer, killed extra humans, did higher harm and completed much less - for everyone. might be Churchill was once correct: jaw-jaw is healthier than war-war. definitely this energetic, first-hand, up-dated account of the Geneva convention of 1954 - that triumph of out of date international relations, which Britain initiated and France accomplished - bargains a greater version for the twenty-first century to stick with.

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12 The Economist summed it up neatly on 7 November: 'the French are not prepared to engage in the fight against Communism just for its own sake. In the past, Frenchmen have regarded the war in Indochina as a purely patriotic effort in defence of what were at first regarded as vital French interests. ' The Times chose, as we shall see, a peculiarly appropriate date for its leader of Friday 13 November expressing confidence in the Navarre Plan and declaring that the war could only be lost in Paris.

The only concrete achievement of the Bermuda Conference- its expression of readiness for a Four Power Meeting of Foreign Ministers with the Russians- would, as Burrows predicted on 9 December, 50 encourage Bidault to take this fresh opportunity of suggesting a Five Power Conference. The stories that leaked from the Bermuda Conference (that object lesson to those who call for summit meetings in the cause of international harmony) also aroused, as both the Embassy and L'Annee Politique reported, 5 1 a sense of grievance in France, though more against the British than the Americans.

In fact, American reactions were both sharper and more significant, though even the British government, let alone press and members of parliament, did not realise how far the Americans were carrying their thoughts. On 6 January, for instance, Robertson, the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs and a hard-liner, thought it necessary to warn Dulles, while advocating further logistic assistance to the French, that 'any commitment of US forces in Indochina may lead to the eventual necessity of making progressively larger commitments'.

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