COLD WAR: A Bad Start

The long night of defeat was closing down inexorably on the gallant garrison of Dienbienphu. In Paris, where the trees burgeoned in gracious spring, the mood was dark as the lengthening shadows in the Indo-China valley 6,000 miles away, and Frenchmen recalled another spring—1940—when Paris could read the portents of disaster. The shaken French government was on the edge of collapse. As they had in 1940, distraught French officials turned their eyes to the skies, cried for clouds of planes to save the day.

In 1940, they had appealed to Britain, and...

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