Vo Nguyen Giap,the legendary Vietnamese general who formed and led the Vietcom guerrillas and who later became the Defence Minister of Vietnam,whose strategic brilliance led to the defeat of both France and U.S.A.,is often hailed as a modern day Napoleon.He is referred to by some as the “Red Napoleon.”(Red in this instance means communist).
It is said that Giap highly admired Napoleon and diligently studied all the campaigns of Napoleon. It is not because for this reason that Giap has been hailed as a Napoleon. The similarities between Napoleon and Giap are obvious in some areas.It is therefore worthwhile to see the similarities and the differences between these two great military personalities.
** Both were similar in being,
–exceptionally good students, read widely and had a penchant for history and military affairs.
— aware of the resources at their disposal and to make maximum use of them to their own advantage.
— to fight against well-equipped and powerful enemies.
— relied more on surprise and deception, rather than relying on strength.
–studied their enemies and exploited the weaknesses to the maximum.
— methodical in preparation and did not leave matters to chance. –learnt from their own mistakes and did not allow the same error to happen twice in their careers.
— relied on the political situation in making their moves, and did not see war as independent from politics.
**The differences are that,
— while Napoleon relied entirely on conventional forces, Giap organized both conventional and guerrilla units.
— Napoleon opted for quick results while Giap was much more patient, waiting and preparing for a long-drawn war.
–Napoleon was his own master, while Giap was subjected to the commands of the party.
–The most interesting difference is that while Napoleon always opted for a military career, Giap became a military man by circumstances.
–While military glories propelled Napoleon to power, eventually becoming the emperor, Giap was eventually sidelined and did not hold a rank in the government for decades till his demise.
Jagath Gunawardana Attorney-at-law