Lê Duẩn

former General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam (1907-1986)

Lê Duẩn (7 April 1907 – 10 July 1986) was a Vietnamese communist politician. He rose in the party hierarchy in the late 1950s and became General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Vietnam (VCP) at the 3rd National Congress in 1960. He continued Hồ Chí Minh's policy of ruling through collective leadership, and led the country during the Vietnam War. From the mid-1960s until his own death in 1986, he was the top decision-maker in Vietnam.

Lê Duẩn in 1978



Conversation with chairman of the Communist Party of China Mao Zedong in Wuhan, China (1963)



Mao Zedong: Comrade, is it true that your people fought and defeated the Yuan army?
Lê Duẩn: That's right.
Mao Zedong: Again, is it true, comrade, that you defeated the Qing army?
Lê Duẩn: That's right.
Mao Zedong: And the Ming army again?
Lê Duẩn: Yes, and your army too, if you try to invade my country.

Speech at 12th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (1 December 1965)


Excerpts from the speech given at the 12th Plenum of the Party Central Committee (1 December 1965)

  • Currently, the American imperialists are still planning to intensify and expand the war in order to recover from their current situation, which is one of defeat and stalemate. However, they also are eager for us to sit down with them at the negotiating table so that they can force us to make concessions. As for our side, we believe we cannot sit down at the table until we have caused the puppet army to disintegrate and until we have crushed the American imperialist will to commit aggression. This is very secret, and we have not yet advised any of the fraternal [communist] parties of our position on this matter.
  • Our party has concluded that the world revolution is now in an offensive position, and our party advocates an intensification of the revolution’s attacks against imperialism, which is led by the American imperialists, in order to maintain world peace and to push back, one step at a time, and overthrow individual components of world imperialism so that we can achieve victory for the world proletarian revolution.
  • Our party’s experiences and our revolutionary realities have demonstrated that whenever we firmly maintain a spirit of independence and self-reliance we are able to be creative in our development of policies and directions, and we achieve success.

Speech at Central Committee of the Vietnam Workers Party meeting (15 May 1975)


Excerpts from the speech given at the Central Committee of the Vietnam Workers Party meeting held at Hanoi, to celebrate the victory over South Vietnam and reunification of Vietnam (15 May 1975)

  • Today, with boundless joy, throughout the country our 45 million people are jubilantly celebrating the great victory we have won in the central offensive and uprising this Spring of 1975, in completely defeating the war of aggression and the neo-colonialist rule of US imperialism, liberating the whole of the southern half of our country so dear to our hearts, and gloriously ending the longest, most difficult and greatest patriotic war ever waged in the history of our peoples' struggle against foreign aggression.
  • We hail our glorious fatherland from now on definitively rid of the slavery of foreign domination and the scourge of partition. We hail the beautiful land of Vietnam from Lạng Sơn to the Cape of Cà Mau, from now on completely in­dependent and free, and independent and free forever.
  • We hail the new era in our nation's 4,000 year history - an era of brilliant prospects for the development of a peaceful, independent, reunified, democratic, prosperous and strong Vietnam, an era in which the labour in people have become the complete masters of their destiny and will pool their physical and mental efforts to build a plentiful and happy life for themselves and for thousands of generations to come.

Speech at the 10th Conference of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Vietnam (1981)


Excerpts from the speech given at the 10th Conference of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Vietnam (1981)

  • We won against the US because our party had a correct and creative revolutionary line, and method. The revolutionary line is to raise the two banners of national independence and socialism. That is the source of all the strength of our revolution. That is also the truth, the power of the times. The revolutionary method is to apply an offensive strategy and know how to win step by step. With that line and method, our party and people have magnified the combined forces of our whole country and combined the forces of the Vietnamese revolution with the revolutionary forces of the new era, creating a powerful force. Synthesize the power of America and its minions on the battlefield to defeat them.
  • Indeed, if we compare the United States with us, the American empire is hundreds, even thousands of times stronger than us in terms of economy, quantity and quality of weapons and military equipment, when the war just started. But America is absolutely weaker than us in politics, culture, and at the same time inferior to us in science and military art.

Speech at the 11th Conference of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Vietnam (1982)


Excerpts from the speech given at the 11th Conference of the Central Committee of Communist Party of Vietnam (1982)

  • The comprehensive cooperation relationship and the help of the Soviet Union, other countries in the socialist community, as well as the two brothers Laos and Cambodia, create favorable conditions for us to strive to overcome difficulties in the future. But here, the decisive factor is still the strong efforts of our people.
  • In the field of socialist revolution, party building work must be associated with the renovation and economic construction, cultural renovation and development. The strengthening of ideological and political work, organization and inspection work must be really associated with the productive labor movement, with striving for the implementation of economic and social plans.

Quotes about

  • Unlike the leaders of Iraq or Argentina, Vietnamese leaders Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan made decisions cautiously and shrewdly, using force only after lengthy internal debate. Their approach paid off: the United States withdrew in 1973, and Vietnam was reunified in 1975. It was a stunning defeat for the democratic side, and Le Duan’s reward for the victory was a long career as ruler of a united Vietnam.
    • Jessica L.P. Weeks, Dictators at War and at Peace (2014), p. 2
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