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French occupation of Vietnam (Napoleon's World)

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The French occupation of Vietnam, also referred to as the Vietnam Wars, was a military event between 1982 and 1996 in which the French Foreign Legion occupied large parts of Vietnam, in particular the Westernized South. The occupation was part of a foreign intervention by the French in the ongoing Vietnamese Civil War to protect the interests of the Saigon government, which had been allied with the French ever since the withdrawal of the United States from Saigon in 1945. Between 1982-1988, the French fought a defensive war against Chinese-armed rebels from the breakaway and communist-sympathetic Republic of Tonkin in the north, which sought independence from the corrupt and dictatorial Saigon regime and a closer allegiance to China, which France viewed as unacceptable. The war was directly analogous and contemporary to the continuing struggles of the Siamese royalty next door, which eventually boiled over into the Siamese War.

Starting in 1988, the French managed to reach a peace agreement allowed Tonkin to break away, and soon thereafter began fighting a guerrilla insurgency in Vietnam itself, which sought to reunite with Tonkin and was funded by Tonkinese military officers. This fight against the Viet Cong lasted until 1996, when the French withdrew following their humiliating losses in Siam. In 1997, Saigon was overrun by Viet Cong guerrillas and was reunited with Tonkin to form the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, a moderately communist state.

The French occupation of Vietnam is occasionally compared to its efforts in Siam concurrent with much of its time in Vietnam, and was a critical event in French foreign policy, as it marked the first defeat for the French Foreign Legion since the Colonial Wars (the debacle in the English Adventure was under the regular Grand Army). This occupation is often compared to the American struggles in Ceylon and Brazil occuring roughly around the same time, although historians note that the American-led Allies eventually defeated Brazil and that the Indochinese Wars are more accurately compared to the occupation of Ceylon.

Along with the conflict in Siam, the French withdrawal from Vietnam was a gross embarassment for the Empire and created strong backlash domestically, tempered only by the strong economic growth of the 1990's. Many cite the failure of France in Indochina as one of the main reasons it did not intervene in Cyrene in 1998.

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