JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 996
This story is more about Ho Chi Minh's capture of French silk than about anything else--it is a peep into the future following the end of the French endgame in Vietnam, which came abruptly with their defeat at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954.
The siege there started on the 13th of March, and lasted 57 days, until May 7th, 1954. The commanding general of the Viet Minh forces, Vo Nguy Giap, achieved an enormous victory over the French—the first time a guerrilla force readjusted itself into a conventional force to defeat a Western army. It was the end of the line for the French military involvement there and it just so happened to be the beginning of Vietnam as an object on the American foreign policy event horizon.
Just a week after this notice appeared, Dwight Eisenhower made his domino speech:
“Finally, you have broader considerations that might follow what you would call the "falling domino" principle. You have a row of dominoes set up, you knock over the first one, and what will happen to the last one is the certainty that it will go over very quickly. So you could have a beginning of a disintegration that would have the most profound influences.conference…”
Vietnam was supposed to be one of those dominoes. Evidently all of the dominoes were the same size regardless of the size or international presence of the country. It was also the same sort of domino even if had appealed for American recognition of its democracy-laced post-WWII government. And it was a domino still even if the United States had helped fashion the events that necessitated the movement of that country toward domino-hood. No matter. The U.S. decided to back the French in reclaiming their war-lost possession, in spite of the fact that the French were still doing business during the war with the Japanese occupying force in Vietnam, and in spite of the fact that the French re-armed Japanese troops to help fight against the "insurgent" forces of Ho Chi Minh. It was an ugly decision, and I suspect FDR was just too sick to deal with it properly.
Nine years later, the French had finally been soundly defeated and Vietnam thought that it had finally gained independence. Not so.
The picture here is of dots--the field of battle at Dien Bien Phu, littered with silk parachutes--cargo dropped by the French air force to the defenders of the garrison....most of which, evidently, fell well outside the French-controlled perimeter and into the hands of the attacking Vietnamese army. These were the exploding dots of the falling domino.
If these dots stood for something, they could stand for the coming wave of death and misery, a graphical representation of what was to come over the next 25 or so years.
I reckon there to be about 500 parachutes/dots in this picture.
Each of these dots could be assigned a number, each representing a gross statistic for the war, from 1950 to 1975:
U.S. forces killed in action: 100/dot (58,000 killed)
U.S. forces wounded in action: 300/dot (313,000)
Army of the Republic of Vietnam, killed in action: 500/dot (263,000)
Army of North Vietnam, killed in action: 2,000/dot (1.1 million killed)
Civilian deaths, North & South Vietnam: 4000/dot (2 million killed)
Civilian deaths caused by North Vietnam during the war: 300/dot
Civilian deaths caused by "North" Vietnam, postwar consolidation and reeducation: 1,000/dot
Civilian deaths caused by the U.S.: 175/dot
All deaths for the war, 1950-1975: 8,000/dot (using a figure of 4 million).