William J. Duiker quotes:

  • From the outset, when [Ho Chi Minh] became a member of the French Communist Party in 1920, he was an independent thinker who adjusted Marxist-Leninist ideas and tactics to what he perceived to be the concrete situation in Indochina.

  • When the advice of Moscow ran counter to [Ho Chi Minh's] own ideas - as in the 1930s - he kept his head down and waited until the situation changed in his favor with the beginning of the Pacific War.

  • Finally, in 1954 [Ho Chi Minh] agreed to the Geneva Agreement, which divided the country temporarily into two zones, in the hope that national elections might unify the country under his leadership.

  • In the spring of 1946 [Ho Chi Minh ] signed a provisional agreement with the French representative on a compromise solution to the dispute over Vietnamese independence. Once again, he might have been naive in hoping that a compromise was really possible.

  • [Dissidents] groups would benefit enormously from learning about Ho Chi Minh's ideas on how to defeat a more popular enemy.

  • In the longer term, I hope that as Vietnam evolves into a more prosperous society with active ties to the international marketplace, it will lose its inherent suspicion of the outside world and begin to develop along the lines of what has recently been happening in Thailand and Malaysia.

  • Ho Chi Minh rarely wrote about Sun Tzu, but when he did mention the ancient Chinese military strategist, he was always laudatory, and he sometimes cited his ideas as a model for the Vietnamese revolutionary movement to follow.

  • Many of the ideas of Sun Tzu and Mao Zedong came naturally to the young Ho Chi Minh, who would probably have applied the same strategy even had he not been aware of them.

  • None of Ho Chi Minh's colleagues was as dedicated to the use of political struggle, psychological warfare, and diplomatic means as he was.

  • Ho Chi Minh was well aware that the enemy possessed more firepower than did his own forces, and sought to use what he viewed as the superior political and moral position of his own revolutionary movement as a trump card to defeat a well-armed adversary. These ideas were originally generated during his early years as a revolutionary in the 1920s and 1930s, and continued to influence his recommendations in the wars against the French (1946-1954) and the United States (1959-1965).

  • Ho Chi Minh preferred to use the tactics of negotiation and compromise, primarily because of his recognition that the revolutionary movement was militarily weaker than its adversaries.

  • Ho Chi Minh sought to defeat both adversaries [French and American] primarily by using diplomatic and political means, combined with paramilitary activities.

  • I decided that after returning to the US to pursue an academic career I would eventually study the life of Ho Chi Minh to find the secret of his success.

  • Sun Tzu's ideas as expressed above had a profound effect on Ho Chi Minh, who sought to defeat both the French and the Americans without recourse to violence - or at least to conventional battle tactics.

  • Today [ Sun Tzu] ideas are not widely applied, at least among Islamic dissidents, whose profligate use of indiscriminate terrorism appears to limit the appeal of their ideas rather than to "win hearts and minds," as the Vietminh and the National Liberation Front did in Vietnam so many decades ago.

  • I first became interested in Ho Chi Minh in 1964-1965 while I was stationed at the U.S. Embassy in South Vietnam as a foreign service officer with the Department of State. The government in Saigon was at the point of collapse and the [Lyndon] Johnson administration was preparing to send U.S. combat troops to prevent a communist victory there. I became convinced that the U.S. effort would not succeed because of the lack of conviction in the Saigon government compared to the discipline and sense of self-sacrifice among the Viet Cong.

  • If [Ho Chi Minh] had had carte blanche over his movement, would the results of the war have been different? That is difficult to say. In some cases - as in 1945 and 1946, he appeared to overestimate the possibility that the United States might decide to recognize his government and the independence of the DRV (although to be fair, from the outset he had warned that Washington might eventually decide to align with the French because of the Cold War).

  • In the end, many of his more militant colleagues began to feel that [Ho Chi Minh's] tendency to compromise, and his reluctance to confront the enemy directly, was a sign of weakness. The decision to confront the United States in 1963-1965 was a tacit recognition that Ho's approach had failed.

  • The influence of Sun Tzu on other North Vietnamese military strategists is harder to answer. Certainly many of the key leaders in Hanoi were aware of Sun Tzu and made use of his ideas - Vo Nguyen Giap applied many of these ideas in seeking out weak elements in the enemy's defenses, as did Truong Chinh, whose famous treatise, The Resistance Will Win (1947), cited the ideas of Mao Zedong as a model for the North Vietnamese to follow.

  • [Ho Chi Minh] was always conscious that conditions in China and Vietnam were not always the same. He "kowtowed" to the Chinese - as he had to the Soviet Union - in order to receive their assistance, but he quietly worked to limit those forms of influence of which he did not approve (such as the harsh forms of land reform and the Great Leap Forward). Unfortunately, he was not always successful in fending off those forms of external advice that he didn't agree with.

  • I did not feel - in President [J.F.] Kennedy's words - that we could win the war for [the government in Saigon]. When I sought the reason for the dedication shown by the enemy, it seemed to me that the leadership and charisma shown by Ho Chi Minh was a major part of the answer.

  • I see no reason to believe that the Vietnamese Communist Party will lose control over the reins of power in Vietnam. There is no organized force in the country that is capable of competing with the VCP for power. And the party still believes that it must rule by intimidation and by dominating the political scene In effect, it has abandoned that part of Ho Chi Minh's legacy that the people must be won over by persuasion rather than by force - a dictum that Ho Chi Minh did not always follow himself.

  • I would hazard the statement that in the broad sense [Ho Chi Minh's] ideas had triumphed, since the communist victory in Vietnam was a consequence of political, diplomatic, and psychological factors more than military ones. That is a tribute to the ideas that he introduced in his life and thought.

  • On many occasions in the late 1950s and 1960s, [Ho Chi Minh's] ideas were apparently ignored by those who felt that his approach was too naive and prone to compromise. The outbreak of open warfare with the French and later with the United States was in effect a sign of the failure of Ho Chi Minh to achieve his objective to fight and win at low cost.

  • There were various aspects of Sun Tzu's approach that appealed to Ho Chi Minh: a) to learn to understand both the enemy and yourself, to seek out his weaknesses and your own strengths, and act accordingly, b) to make ample use of subterfuge and stratagem in order to defeat or disarm your adversary, and c) to use outright violence only when absolutely necessary in the belief that political struggle was more effective than military struggle.

  • What is the influence of Sun Tzu in the world today? Perhaps there are others who are better qualified than I to speculate about that question. Sun Tzu's ideas, as expressed in his famous treatise, have undoubtedly influenced the nature of many revolutionary movements that are arrayed against more powerful forces, and in some cases - as in Vietnam - have played a useful role in bringing about success. But such ideas are always in conflict with other deepseated emotional factors, which propel dissident movements into the rampant use of terrorism and other forms of anarchistic struggle.

  • When he served in China during World War II, [Ho Chi Minh] learned about Mao Zedong's tactics of guerrilla war against the Japanese (and later against Chiang Kai-shek's forces), and he translated some of Mao's works into Vietnamese. But it is clear that his own ideas on how to counter the enemy ran along the same lines.