Monday, May 27, 2013

General Georges Catroux and the Catroux Commission—A Loose-lead on Greater Truth

The Catroux Commission, authorized to form a truth from France's defeat at Dien Bien Phu, terminated its work holding taught a narrative thread from whose tangled middle hangs political expedience.  The report (Rapport concernant la conduite des opérations en Indochine sous la direction du général Navarrepresents a military failure contaminated by civilian France's debility: the public offered itself France's definitive defeat to free itself from the bother of a war it found tiresome.  Civilian betrayal was salve for the admission that the catastrophe of Dien Bien Phu constituted a military failure.  Calculation allowed this sentence: "If, therefore, one wishes to establish objectively the responsibilities incurred in the final phase of the Indochina war one would have to examine its origins and evoke the acts and decisions of the various governments in power, that is to say their war policies, as well as the ways in which these policies were translated by the military commanders into operations."  There, thenchoice and fulfilment as a single expression, the commission's advocacy for the inquiry it had been established to conduct affirmed its intractability, a menacing, greater truth strangled by the commission's tolerable, self-inflicted truth.  The final item in General Catroux's biography at Ordre de la Libérationthere under principales publications, is the title Deux actes du drame indochinois. Hanoi, juin 1940, Dien Bien Phu, mars-mai 1954; in and before this, there is no mention of Catroux's report concerning the military failure at Dien Bien Phu.

"French Delegate General Georges Catroux at the Paris Peace Conference" by Gjon Mili

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