October 8 2013
photo by Reuters/Nguyen Huy Kham
The passing of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap marks the end of an era for Vietnam — and for giants of the twentieth-century anti-colonial movement throughout the world. As commander of the Viet Minh and the Vietnam People's Army, his strategies led to successes against France and the United States that were regarded as among communism's finest military moments.
Giap, who died on Friday [Oct. 4] in Hanoi, at the age of 102, represented communism on the move: to his comrades (in Vietnam and further afield), his successes demonstrated the historical inevitability of the ideology.
Giap presided over a war effort that led to the deaths of over a million of his own troops (along with 58,000 U.S. troops, 200,000 South Vietnamese soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of civilians), and he was the last of his nation's war-era top leadership alive.