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Ho Chi Minh once said You can kill 10 of my men for every one I kill of yours yet even at those odds you will lose and I will win as Hos brilliant commander General Vo Nguyen Giap stated in Hanoi in 1990 his principal concern had been victory When I asked him how long he would have resisted the US onslaught he thundered Twenty years maybe 100 years -- as long as it took to win regardless of cost The human toll was horrendous An estimated 3 million North and South Vietnamese soldiers and civilians died During Hos childhood he was greatly influenced by his surroundings This would greatly influence the person that he was to become The area was indirectly ruled by the French through a puppet emperor Its impoverished peasants traditional dissidents opposed Frances presence and Hos father a functionary at the imperial court manifested his sympathy for them by quitting his position and becoming an itinerant teacher Inheriting his fathers rebellious bent Ho participated in a series of tax revolts acquiring a reputation as a troublemaker But he was familiar with the lofty French principles of libert fraternit and yearned to see them in practice in France In 1911 he sailed for Marseilles as a galley boy aboard a passenger liner In 1919 Woodrow Wilson arrived in France to sign the treaty ending World War I and Ho supposing that the Presidents doctrine of self-determination applied to Asia donned a cutaway coat and tried to present Wilson with a lengthy list of French abuses in Vietnam Rebuffed Ho joined the newly created French Communist Party It was patriotism not communism that inspired me he later explained What he brought was a spirit of rebellion -- against first the French and later the Americans As Hos war escalated in the mid-1960s it became clear to Lyndon Johnson that Vietnam would imperil his presidency In 1965 Johnson tried a
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