Many of the secret documents in the Pentagon Papers reveal America’s role Asian politics before entering World War II. Its interesting to see Roosevelt and Stalin discussed a French-free IndoChina at the Tehran Conference.
The Pentagon Papers Volume 33 Part V-B1 reveals a series secret documents regarding a steady stream of communications between World War II allies leading up to the Tehran Conference in early December 1943 where Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt met to plan a second European front against Hitler’s Germany.
I think its important to view the timeline regarding French aims regarding a postwar IndoChina. The memorandum below was between Stalin and Roosevelt at Tehran as the Allies were planning D-Day.
Can the irony be any stronger for French demand’s that American support reclaiming their lost colonies while the war in Europe was still raging on just the eastern front?
This provides a real level of contrast to American/French relations during the war. This dissuasion may have called into question America’s blanket support for France’s desire to reclaim their IndoChina colony (blogged about here) following the end of the war.
Extract from Memorandum of Conversation between President Roosevelt and Marshal Stalin,
November 28, 1943, 3 p.m.
MARSHAL STALIN expatiated at length on the French ruling classes and he said, in his opinion, they should not be entitled to share in any of the benefits of the peace, in in view of their past record of collaboration with Germany.
THE PRESIDENT said that Mr. Churchill was of the opinion that France would be very quickly reconstructed as a strong nation, but he did not personally share this view since he felt that many years of honest labor would be necessary before France would be re-established. He said the first necessity for the French, not only for the Government but the people as well, was to become honest citizens.
MARSHAL STALIN agreed and went on to say that he did not propose to have the Allies shed blood to restore Indo-China, for example, to the old French colonial rule. He said that the recent events in the Lebanon made public service the first step toward the independence of people who had formerly been colonial subjects. He said that in the war against Japan; in his opinion, that in addition to military missions, it was necessary to fight the Japanese in the political sphere as well, particularly in view of the fact that the Japanese had granted the least normal independence to certain colonial areas. He repeated that France should not get back Indo-China and that the French must pay for their criminal collaboration with Germany.
THE PRESIDENT said he was 100% in agreement with Marshal Stalin and remarked that after 100 years of French rule in IndoChina, the inhabitants were worse off than they had been before. He said that Chiang Kai Shek had told him China had no designs on Indo-China but the people of Indo-China were not yet ready for independence to which he had replied that when the United States acquired the Philippines the inhabitants were not ready for independence which would be granted without qualification upon the end of the war against Japan. He added that he had discussed with Chiang Kai Shek the possibility of a system of trusteeship for Indo-China which would have the task of preparing the people for independence within a definite period of time, perhaps 20 to 30 years.
MARSHAL STALIN completely agreed with this view.
The declassified documents open a large window into the complex and shifting world of global politics during World War II. Seems our role in Vietnam was predetermined.