I’ve mentioned in passing earlier in this blog Hồ Chí Minh’s approaches to the U.S. at the end of World War II. He appealed to the U.S. repeatedly to assist Vietnam in its quest for independence and freedom from French colonialism.
In 1945, Hồ sent two letters to President Truman, five letters to the U.S. Secretary of State, James Byrnes, and one telegram to Byrnes. The next year he dispatched two more letters and a telegram to Truman.
As far as I can determine, Hồ never received a reply.
Hồ at that point was more nationalist than communist. His driving ambition was independence for Vietnam. When the U.S. failed to respond, he turned to China and the USSR. Both nations provided him assistance and support—material, financial, and political—and Hồ and his Việt Minh* movement became decidedly communist.
Hồ’s outreach to the U.S. made good sense. We had historically opposed colonialism and supported independence for all nations of the world, as befitted us given our own history. Hồ expected that we would no more support French occupation of Vietnam than we did German occupation of France. Nevertheless, we sided with the French. And by 1964, when we introduced troops into Vietnam, we had become vehemently anti-communist and supported the non-communist government of South Vietnam against the communist government of the North under Hồ.
How different history would have been had we responded favorably to Hồ’s pleas in the mid-1940s.
* Việt Minh is shorthand for Việt Nam Độc Lập Đồng Minh Hội, the Alliance for the Independence of Vietnam, a national coalition of various political parties throughout Vietnam.