Ho Chi Minh – In East Asia, nationalists had long sought to throw of the French colonial yoke in Indochina. The Vietnamese leader, Ho Chi Minh, had tried to appeal personally to Woodrow Wilson in Paris as early as 1919 to support self-determination for the peoples of Indochina. However, Cold War events caused the nationalist leaders to become increasingly communist. By 1954, American taxpayers were financing nearly 80% of the costs of a bottomless French colonial war in Indochina (about $1 billion a year). Despite this massive aid, the French forces crumbled, and Eisenhower refused to move in, fearful of another war so soon after Korea. A multination conference at Geneva roughly halved the two Vietnams at the 17th parallel, and the victorious Ho Chi Minh in the north consented to this arrangement on the assurance that Vietnam-wide elections would be held within 2 years, while in the South a pro-Western government under Ngo Dinh Diem was set up in Saigon. The elections promised were never held. Eisenhower provided military and economic aid to the conservative Diem regime in return for certain social reforms. As guerilla forces grew, Americans realized they were supporting the wrong horse, but could do little about it. Secretary Dulles, in a vain attempt to prop up the Vietnamese government, set up the 8-member Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), including the US, Britain and France, but it proved to be of no avail.