HO CHI MINH:
AMERICA’S MOST
CAPABLE FOE
Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Strategic Security
Henley Putnam Univ...
THESIS STATEMENT
Assessing who was the most capable opponent the United
States faced in the post World War II era is indee...
PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS:
STRATEGIC EFFECTS
Personality Trait
1. Charisma : attract, hold, partner

with, cultivate, an...
“I had never thought of myself as a
person especially sensitive to
physical appearances, but Ho
exuded a combination of in...
INTERNATIONAL
SUPPORT BUILDING
1.
2.
3.
4.

Nationalists
Communists
“Progressive Peoples”
Tactical Alliances

Area, Intell...
ORGANIZATIONAL
SKILLS
1. Sanctuary:

“nesting”

2. Anchoring
3. Seeding
4. Grafting
5. Sustaining

Ho Chi Minh created a p...
MILITARY DECEPTION
Targets

Lines of Effort

l
s on a
P er

Personality
Cult
Names
Images

Political

Speech

Kinetic

Ho ...
HO CHI MINH: GRANDFATHER IMAGE
THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE

When Ho Chi Minh cited the Declaration of Independence in
1945 he simultaneously carried ...
ELIMINATION OF RIVALS
“In their jockeying for power the Viet Minh did not
hesitate to liquidate any adversaries they deeme...
Pham Van Dong

“After September 2, 1945 and throughout 1946, the
Vietnamese revolution went through a stormy period.
The d...
CONCLUSIONS AND APPLICATIONS
Ho Chi Minh possessed
an extraordinary scope
of strategic leadership
capabilities.

1. Identi...
CONTACT
INFORMATION
Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Strategic Security
Henley Putnam University
scatino@Henle...
ADDITIONAL SLIDES
MILDEC AND POPULATION
• 1930s: HO to Indochina

Communist Party

“It [the ICP] should only claim for
democratic rights, fr...
DANGEROUS IDEOLOGY FOR HO: NATIONALISM
In 1922 he asserted in l’Humanite, a French socialist newspaper:
“In the eyes of th...
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Ho chi minh americas most capable foe martin catino

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This presentation discusses the strategic leadership capabilities of Ho Chi Minh. The views expressed here do not necessarily represent those of Henley Putnam University, and are completely those of the author.

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Ho chi minh americas most capable foe martin catino

  1. 1. HO CHI MINH: AMERICA’S MOST CAPABLE FOE Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D. Associate Dean of Strategic Security Henley Putnam University
  2. 2. THESIS STATEMENT Assessing who was the most capable opponent the United States faced in the post World War II era is indeed a difficult task. Nonetheless Ho Chi Minh emerges as arguably the most skilled insurgent that the United States faced in this time frame. He thwarted US regional objectives in Indochina, advanced Soviet Communism, divided the US home-front, strained US public will and national treasure, and left a deep scar on US public thinking regarding military intervention (the so-called Vietnam Syndrome)—objectives he clearly articulated in his military doctrine. As importantly, insurgents from Iraq to Latin America and elsewhere model his strategic tactics as effective means to overthrow governments and obstruct US policy. Ho Chi Minh This setback in US national security occurred in large part because Ho Chi Minh possessed strategic leadership capabilities. These leadership qualities directly, indirectly, and cumulatively contributed to favorable outcomes for the Communist Vietnamese. His leadership included extraordinary personality qualities, international support building, organizational skills, and military deception (MILDEC), all working synergistically to create strategic effects that became “America’s most difficult war.” Fighting such a skilled asymmetrical opponent requires a US leadership that should identify such threats earlier, act more decisively, and strategize more comprehensively than what occurred during much of the 20th century.
  3. 3. PERSONALITY CHARACTERISTICS: STRATEGIC EFFECTS Personality Trait 1. Charisma : attract, hold, partner with, cultivate, and exploit associates and allies 2. Discipline (energy, secrecy, patience) 3. Evasion and stealth (instinct) 4. Strategic Thinking: thinking and responding strategically Strategic Effects 1. Maintaining international support in the Communist Bloc 2. “Step by step” building of the Communist revolution 3. Evading French and other security 4. Pattern of strategic alliances with nationalists, Soviets, Chinese (Communists; Nationalists), French, etc.
  4. 4. “I had never thought of myself as a person especially sensitive to physical appearances, but Ho exuded a combination of inner strength and personal generosity that struck me with something like a physical blow. He looked directly at me, and at the others, with a magnetic expression of intensity and warmth. Almost reflexively I found myself thinking of my grandfather. There was that same effortless communication of wisdom and caring with which my grandfather had personified for us the values of Confucian life.” Quoted in Michael Lee Lanning and Dan Cragg, Inside the VC and The NVA: The Real Story of North Vietnam’s Armed Forces (New York: Ballentine Books, 1992), 34-35. Ho Chi Minh in Paris, 1919 Ho Chi Minh’s deceptive personality enticed, held, and won over significant national, regional, and international players.
  5. 5. INTERNATIONAL SUPPORT BUILDING 1. 2. 3. 4. Nationalists Communists “Progressive Peoples” Tactical Alliances Area, Intelligence, and Resource Access • • Networks, Movement and Sustainment • Transmission Belts Ho Chi Minh created effective networks in the 1930s that he utilized throughout the Vietnam War.
  6. 6. ORGANIZATIONAL SKILLS 1. Sanctuary: “nesting” 2. Anchoring 3. Seeding 4. Grafting 5. Sustaining Ho Chi Minh created a powerful Communist organization using sophisticated tactics he learned in Moscow and perfected in China when he was a COMINTERN agent.
  7. 7. MILITARY DECEPTION Targets Lines of Effort l s on a P er Personality Cult Names Images Political Speech Kinetic Ho Chi Minh deliberately used skilled Military Deception operations backed by political murder to achieve his strategic aims.
  8. 8. HO CHI MINH: GRANDFATHER IMAGE
  9. 9. THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE When Ho Chi Minh cited the Declaration of Independence in 1945 he simultaneously carried out the political murder of major nationalist leaders in Vietnam.
  10. 10. ELIMINATION OF RIVALS “In their jockeying for power the Viet Minh did not hesitate to liquidate any adversaries they deemed dangerous. Bui Quang Chieu, founder of the Constitutional Party, Vo Van Nga, leader of the Party for Independence, and Nguyen Van Sam, the Imperial Delegate to Cochin-china, were all assassinated. In Hue, the Viet Minh killed the scholar Pham Quynh and Ngo Dinh Koi, Ngo Dinh Diem’s eldest brother, both from the former Bao Dai government and dignitaries with prestige in their times. The Viet Minh did not even spare their own comrades who happened to have divergent views; they killed Ta Thu Thau, for example, who was leader of the Trotskyist Struggle Group. This reign of terror eventually brought the collapse of the nationalist movement in the South and gave the Viet Minh the indisputable leadership position in the resistance movement.” Maj. Gen. Nguyen Duy Hinh and Brig. Gen. Tran Dinh Tho, The South Vietnamese Society, 26.
  11. 11. Pham Van Dong “After September 2, 1945 and throughout 1946, the Vietnamese revolution went through a stormy period. The destiny of the homeland was at stake. In those hard months and years, Ho Chi Minh showed himself to be courageous, clever and creative, reacting sensitively and in a timely way to various situations, using many techniques to divide enemies, now working with the Chinese Kuomintang troops to deal with the French colonialists, then compromising with the latter to rapidly drive Chiang Kaishek troops home. “Under his guidance, our people foiled all the manoeuvres [sic] of both internal and external enemies, held on firmly to revolutionary power, and raced against them to prepare [sic] the nationwide resistance war against the French aggression. Thinking back to that time I cannot help asking what would have happened without Ho Chi Minh. “ (Pham Van Dong, Ho Chi Minh, 31)
  12. 12. CONCLUSIONS AND APPLICATIONS Ho Chi Minh possessed an extraordinary scope of strategic leadership capabilities. 1. Identifying hostile leadership with strategic capabilities is essential for US security. These capabilities included extraordinary personality qualities, international support building, organizational skills, and military deception (MILDEC). 2. Strategic leadership capabilities if allowed to develop will pose serious asymmetrical threats to US security.
  13. 13. CONTACT INFORMATION Martin Scott Catino, Ph.D. Associate Dean of Strategic Security Henley Putnam University scatino@Henley-Putnam.edu
  14. 14. ADDITIONAL SLIDES
  15. 15. MILDEC AND POPULATION • 1930s: HO to Indochina Communist Party “It [the ICP] should only claim for democratic rights, freedom of organization, freedom of assembly, freedom of press and freedom of speech, general amnesty for all political detainees, and struggle for the legalization of the party.” Ho Chi Minh, Ho Chi Minh on Revolution, 130.
  16. 16. DANGEROUS IDEOLOGY FOR HO: NATIONALISM In 1922 he asserted in l’Humanite, a French socialist newspaper: “In the eyes of the natives, Bolshevism–a word which is more vivid and expressive because frequently used by the bourgeoisie–means either the destruction of everything or emancipation from the foreign yoke. The first sense given to the word drives the ignorant and timorous masses away from us; the second leads them to nationalism. Both senses are equally dangerous.”76

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