'Legendary Vietnam Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap dies.'
'Vo Nguyen Giap, the brilliant and ruthless self-taught general who drove the French out of Vietnam to free it from colonial rule and later forced the Americans to abandon their grueling effort to save the country from communism, has died. At age 102, he was the last of Vietnam's old-guard revolutionaries
.' 'To military scholars around the world, he was one of the 20th century’s leading practitioners of modern revolutionary guerrilla warfare.'
'General Giap had studied the military teachings of Mao Zedong,
who wrote that political indoctrination, terrorism and sustained guerrilla warfare were prerequisites for a successful revolution. Using this strategy, General Giap defeated the French Army’s elite and its vaunted Foreign Legion at Dien Bien Phu in May 1954, forcing France from Indochina and earning him the grudging admiration of the French.'
'General Giap understood something that his adversaries did not, however. Early on, he learned that the loyalty of Vietnam’s peasants was more crucial than controlling the land on which they lived. Like Ho Chi Minh, he believed devoutly that the Vietnamese would be willing to bear any burden to free their land from foreign armies.'
'The general's former nemesis, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, came to visit in 1995. He asked about a disputed chapter of the Vietnam War, the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident in which two U.S. Navy destroyers were purportedly fired upon by North Vietnamese boats. It's the event that gave the U.S. Congress justification for escalating the war.
Later, many questioned whether the attack actually occurred. During his visit, McNamara asked Giap what happened that night.
"Absolutely nothing," Giap said.'
'Late in life, Giap encouraged warmer relations between Vietnam and the United States, which re-established ties in 1995 and have become close trading partners. Vietnam has also recently looked to the U.S. military as a way to balance China's growing power in the disputed South China Sea.
"We can put the past behind," Giap said in 2000. "But we cannot completely forget it."'