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Australia and the Vietnam War

             In the years following the end of the Second World War, colonies of the Western Powers throughout Africa and Asia were clamouring for self-determination and nationhood. The means by which they sought to achieve these goals ranged from peaceful negotiation to armed insurrection and protracted revolutionary warfare. The independence movements were likewise diverse. They were not all communist, although communists actively involved themselves in most of the "wars of liberation", forming blocs within other movements where they did not have the strength to stand alone. Some movements were purely nationalist, of no particular political colour. Some were even elitist, representing the interests of a privileged caste. Nor were they united in their common goal, but were frequently divided into rival factions, split along political, religious, ethnic (or tribal) or special interest lines. Even after independence was achieved, the new nations were wracked by bitter and internecine conflicts between such factions. The colours of political maps changed as these emerging nations either retained or repudiated old allegiances and declared new ones, such as to the World Communist Movement. Nowhere was this trend more evident than in the region of South-east Asia, where the Japanese occupation, even if it achieved nothing else, destroyed the myth of white supremacy for good and all. Thus, when the colonial powers returned to reclaim their former colonies, or impose their plans for a guided path to self government within a new 'commonwealth', they found themselves confronted by armed and aggressive resistance movements, many of whom had gained skill and experience in fighting the Japanese. Such was the case in French Indochina where the Administration, having declared for Vichy, was left in place by the Japanese until 9 March 1945. The Viet Minh (an abbreviation of "Viet Nam Doc Lap Dong Minh Hoi" or "League for Independence of Vietnam") under the political leadership of a man best known by his last nom de guerre, Ho Chi Minh, and the military guidance of the able Vo Nguyen Giap, conducted a resistance movement against the Japanese from bases in Tonkin (in northern Vietnam).

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