02.jpg

Từ điển chiến tranh

tags

PUBLIC OPINION, FRENCH

French public opinion was remarkably uninterested in the Indochina War until the early 1950s. Several reasons account for this. Unlike French Algeria, colonial Indochina possessed only a small Franco-European population (some 40,000 Europeans living in Indochina until March 1945 in marked contrast to the one million residing in Algeria in 1954). Unlike Algeria, where obligatory national military service ensured that a greater number of French youth and families were touched by the war, in Indochina a professional and remarkably non-French contingent conducted the war. Third, in the wake of World War II, French people were much more focused on rebuilding their country and their own lives. The war in Indochina remained far from their daily concerns and certainly further removed than Algeria located just across the Mediterranean. In 1945, Alain Ruscio reports, 25 percent of the French polled on the Indochina War had nothing to say. That number increased to 30 percent in January 1947, just following the outbreak of full-scale war on 19 December 1946. In 1948, a national poll asked the French to rank the most important problems confronting the country. The Indochina War was to be found at the end of the list. In 1951, another national poll asked respondents what were their greatest concerns at the time. One out of three Frenchmen said “the cost of meat”. Moreover, if at the outset of the war a slight majority of the French population (52 percent) felt that Indochina should be maintained by force of arms, in February 1954 only 7 percent of those polled believed that troops should be sent to re-establish French rule and 60 percent were now in favor a reaching a negotiated solution to the problem or to abandon the former colony altogether. While the French Communist Party did much to sensitize French opinion to the sale guerre or “dirty war”, it was the battle for Dien Bien Phu that finally brought the forgotten war to French public attention in somewhat cataclysmic terms. See also ANTICOLONIALISM; ESPRIT; HENRI MARTIN; INTELLECTUALS; TÉMOIGNAGE CHRÉTIEN.