This, this was the most blatant kind of, of self serving statement which could bear hardly any examination at all. The French went to bed more freely with the women of their colonies. The French used the method of co-opting segments of the population, which they tried to turn in into what were contemptuously called black Frenchmen.
In the case of Indochina
, they had granted citizenship at that, by that point through all their 80 or 90 year history, I think, to about 600 if I, I, I'm summoning this figure up from memory. I don't know whether it's right or not, but people who had been particularly serviceable to them were granted the great honor of French citizenship.
But, leave aside the degree or manner of, of waging their rule, and waging their rule is the verb. There could be no accepting for people in a colony of foreign rule over their lives. In the end, the, the basic demeaning of dignity and, and quality of life represented by having people rule over you, denying you all measures of autonomy, both psychological and political and and lording it over racially. The, the French were as racist as the next one when it came to the critical dimensions.
And, this is what fueled the nationalist movement in all the colonies. This is what the European colonialists never could quite take in. The French spoke of their civilizing mission and some of them, I suppose, believed it, although there was a high degree of cynicism, especially what one might call Gallic cynicism. Ah.
And, this is what led to the, the struggle against them. Its short lived but marvelous quality of purity, of high moral sanction. All kinds of bastardly politicians. Tyrants to be could in the period of the nationalist struggle really embrace a morally pure course. Nobody, except the colonialists themselves could challenge the validity of their need and their desire to become their own men.
And, anybody coming in to this certainly I, and many like me, and I think what could have been called a generalized American feeling about this given the whole American attachment to this same set of considerations, ah, could not but identify with this.
And, the political differentiation from communists who in this case dominated the nationalist movement, because they had fought most consistently. Ah. I have to recall to you that the French in Vietnam, in Indochina
, after the fall of France in 1940
had entered into collaborative relations with the Japanese ah, and most people had simply submitted.
The Viet Minh which was organized and had fought with American help from across the border in China
. Ah. There was American involvement in arming Ho Chi Minh’s guerrillas who came in to fight, first the Japanese and then later the French, ah, had this identification with this, and it was very difficult not to, in one measure of another, ah accept this as valid, and the political differentiation, the fear of the communists that the American official establishment had and which the American official establishment gave priority to over all these other considerations and therefore, in effect re-armed the French.
They brought the French troops back from, from Europe
. They supplied France with arms and weapons for Indochina
and to a very considerable measure the return of the French, the restoration of French armed power in Indochina
was made possible because of the Americans, not only acquiesced in it, but actively supported it at the time.
And, in that given moment of, of struggle, ah, the rightness of the cause was, was unchallengeable, and to, to be on the spot and see this being seduced by notions of fear of of what the communists might do later and giving this priority over the overwhelming need to identify with these nationalist movements and let the politics of the future shape itself as it might, ah, made it a moment in history which disappeared very quickly.
There was great faith and expectation that the Americans out of self interest... Indeed, Roosevelt, you know, because he was so annoyed at the French for the way they behaved vis-à-vis the Nazis, had made noises about giving a different status to Indochina
. So, there were many illusions about this which died very hard.