It did not take long for the French Colonial War to end after the debacle at Dien Bien Phu. The signing of the 1954 Geneva Accords followed soon after that. In those accords, France agreed to withdraw its forces from all its colonies in French Indochina, while agreeing that Vietnam would be temporarily divided at the 17th parallel. Control of the north which was to be called the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, was given to Ho Chi Minh the leader of the Viet Minh. The south became the Republic of Vietnam, nominally under Emperor Bao Dai, and by its existence it prevented Ho Chi Minh from gaining control of the entire country.
Ngô Dinh Diêm (the US-supported President of the first Republic of Vietnam [RVN]) refused to allow elections in 1956, as had been stipulated by the Geneva Conference. In time this led to what we now call the Vietnam War. The people did not want him as a dictator. He never had much support, except from the U.S., the friend of dictators around the world. As a result the U.S. supported a leader of Vietnam who refused to permit fair and free elections. This was the “democratic” state the Americans fought for and sacrificed nearly 60,000 lives. Did this ever make sense?
My mother used to say to me that I would be known by my friends. That is a lesson the U.S. had not learned. Of course it still has not learned that lesson as we can see from the brutal regimes it continues to support around the world.