This is the story of the Geneva Conference of 1954 on Indochina. It will be treated here as an important episode in the history of mid-twentieth-century British diplomacy. In a broader perspective, of course, it is the merest incident in the continuing tragedy of conflict in Indochina. That has already lasted longer, involved more nations, had wider repercussions and perhaps reshuffled more coalitions than the Thirty Years War in seventeenth-century Europe. And the Thirty Years War, modern historians insist, was misnamed. It could equally well have been called the Hundred Years War. In Indochina too, the dragon’s teeth were sown long before the half century that saw, we hope, the worst of their harvest, but the bitter reaping is far from over. Americans, Australians, British, Chinese, French, Japanese, Koreans may each single out certain months or years as the period of their involvement in actual combat: most of the indigenous inhabitants now alive have never known a time when there was no fighting in Indochina. Many of them never will.


Indigenous Inhabitant Actual Combat British Official Foreign Legion European Ally 
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© Sir James Cable 2000

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