'No End of Lessons? Dien Bien Phu 60 years on'
Discussion Paper 5/2014, 'No End of Lessons? Dien Bien Phu 60 years on’, by Greg Mills and Anthony Arnott.
Sixty years ago today, on 9 October 1954, Viet Minh troops which had fought and defeated France’s colonial forces at Dien Bien Phu entered Hanoi – the capital of French Indochina – as liberators.
The defeat of French forces at Dien Bien Phu in May of that year signalled the beginning of the end of France’s empire and marked the first time a European army had been defeated in a pitched battle in the history of decolonisation. Both the French defeat and what followed in the two decades after Dien Bien Phu – namely America’s creeping involvement in what would become the longest war in its history – hold myriad lessons for current political and military leaders, not least on how to confront the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).
Based on recent research in Vietnam, Greg Mills and Anthony Arnott revisit the story of Dien Bien Phu and assess its relevance to today’s greatest security challenge.