Legendary Vietnamese Gen. Giap Dies
Account By James Hookway in The Wall Sreet Journal on the death of Gen. Giap.
Fifty-nine years ago, Vietnam's Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap rang a death knell for Western colonialism in Asia, masterminding the defeat of France's armed forces at the battle of Dien Bien Phu in northern Vietnam. He later went on to play a crucial role in forcing the U.S. out of Vietnam, burnishing his standing as one of the 20th century's most important military leaders.
But at the time of his death—in a Hanoi military hospital Friday at the age of 102—Gen. Giap was engaged in a fresh battle: This time, to protect Vietnam's fragile ecology from the strip mining driven by its fast-growing economy and that of its giant neighbor, China.
Gen. Giap's re-emergence as an eco-warrior in his twilight years was typical of his unconventional style, and demonstrated how he never quite fit in with the Communist Party ideologues who later came to run Vietnam, even as they promoted the nationalist cult that soon grew up around the feisty commander.
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