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Now some people would say, great. Tell this to the kids at Yale, but why bother telling it to the ones at West Point? Most people, when they think of this institution, assume that it’s the last place anyone would want to talk about thinking creatively or cultivating independence of mind. It’s the Army, after all. It’s no accident that the word regiment is the root of the word regimentation . Surely you who have come here must be the ultimate conformists. Must be people who have bought in to the way things are and have no interest in changing it. Are not the kind of young people who think about the world, who ponder the big issues, who question authority. If you were, you would have gone to Amherst or Pomona. You’re at West Point to be told what to do and how to think.
Acheson thus offered support for the re-imposition of French control over Vietnam but cautioned that the French should strive to gain the support of the people. It was a contradictory formula, as the vast majority of Vietnamese had no desire to live under French rule. Yet it allowed the Truman administration to rationalize its support for French imperialism as something other than imperialism. In deference to American sensibilities, the French made a symbolic gesture to “Vietnamese independence” by appointing former emperor Bao Dai as “head of state” in March 1949.