Skip to comments.Quynh Dao: Vietnam protesters fall silent - (Hooah! Chalk up one commentary for the good guys!)
Posted on 04/28/2005 8:16:41 PM PDT by CHARLITE
MANY myths and half-truths about the Vietnam War whipped up by the communist propaganda machine have been allowed to persist unchecked in discourse about Iraq. Today, on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the fall of Saigon, perhaps some lessons can be learned from this painful chapter in history.
A point of view held by the anti-Vietnam War movement in the 1960s and still taken as fact by some people today is that the Vietnam War was a civil war, not one fomented or directed by the communist north, which, in turn, was being instructed by China.
With that belief, the anti-Vietnam War movement denounced US involvement in Vietnam as an act of interference. The Vietnamese Communist Party's official biography on leader Ho Chi Minh and the Chinese Communist Party confirms that the communists in the north received instruction from China and were supported by the rest of the communist bloc with aid to foment the war and to spread Marxist-Leninist ideology.
The Vietnam War should thus be seen, rightly, as a fight to preserve freedom and democracy by the people of South Vietnam against communist invasion.
The anti-war movement supported the National Front for the Liberation of South Vietnam (the Vietcong) portrayed by communist sympathisers in the West as independent from Hanoi. Party documents now reveal it was a product of the north.
As such, members of the anti-Vietnam War movement let themselves be deceived by the communists. Some influential people in the West, wittingly or not, abetted the communists in their deception.
Novelist Graham Greene wrote The Quiet American in 1955 in which he denounced the US and South Vietnam as engaged in acts of terrorism against the Vietnamese people. He could not provide any verifiable detail about one such alleged incident which he asserted was true.
At the time Greene wrote, thousands of people in the north were slaughtered in the so-called land-reform campaign initiated by Ho Chi Minh under the directives of Chinese advisers. Greene was happy to ignore that campaign.
Noam Chomsky, the leading anti-war intellectual, vowed "to speak the truth and to expose lies" as a reason for his pro-Vietnamese communist stand. As he made this passionate avowal, North Vietnamese poet Nguyen Chi Thien was imprisoned for doing just that, writing the truth about the communists. Nguyen was imprisoned for 27 years.
The Western media turned what was a military success on the part of the non-communist forces in the south to a political victory for the communists. The Tet Offensive of 1968 was an unmitigated disaster for Hanoi. Yet it was pictures of US carnage that were publicised to a war-weary audience.
The media also relayed ad nauseam the picture of a South Vietnamese soldier shooting a Vietcong, in civilian clothing. The message was loud and clear -- this is the kind of atrocity that the South Vietnamese army did to their own people, with the backing of the US. The Western media did not report the massacre of 4000 unarmed civil servants and civilians in the city of Hue, committed by the communists.
Nguyen Ngoc Loan, the South Vietnamese officer in the picture, passed away in 1998. Neil Davis, the Australian war correspondent killed on assignment in Thailand, set out the background to the killing when interviewed for David Bradbury's 1980 documentary Frontline. The Vietcong shot by Loan had, not long before this picture was taken, led a team of communist terrorists who killed the family of a South Vietnamese officer, including his 80-year-old mother, his wife and his children. How often is his background explained?
Following their victory in 1975, the communists, hailed as liberators by their sympathisers, put more than 1million people in concentration camps, appropriated property, nationalised all means of production, evicted people from their homes and stripped people of their savings. Before the end of the war, South Vietnam was at par with other developing countries in the region. Now, after 30 years of "liberation", Vietnam ranks with the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world.
After 30 years of peace, intellectuals, artists, Buddhist monks, Catholic priests, tribal people, even communist war heroes, are subject to arrest, torture, harassment and imprisonment for peacefully demanding freedom and democracy.
What is occurring in Vietnam sparks protests from human rights organisations around the world. Amid all of these voices of protest, the deadening silence from the anti-war camp is telling. Those who supported the communists still refuse to see the stark evidence.
It was the pressure from the anti-war elite that forced the US administration to pull troops out of Vietnam. The hasty US retreat made South Vietnam prey to a ruthless enemy still fat with Soviet largesse and left behind it a trail of indescribable human suffering culminating in the boat people tragedy.
Are we going to let this happen to Iraq? Troop withdrawal should be a process that happens gradually to allow the precious new democracy in Iraq time to build up its national security and strengthen its governing institutions in the face of fundamentalist savagery.
Building a democracy is a long process. While 80 million Vietnamese people are now doomed in slavery, the chances for the Iraqi people to live in a society that respects freedom and is based on the rule of law is within reach.
Quynh Dao is a member of the Australian-Vietnam Human Rights Committee and a former refugee.
The same unwashed of the 60's are at it again.
Still, a good article and one worthing bumping! We have an active South Vietnamese veteran group in my city and you can see the sadness in their eyes...
My only critique for the South Vietmanese is why didn't their Army fight as hard and fanatically as the North Vietmanese soldier. If they had fought hard and not constantly relying on the Americans to do all the heavy lifting, they would not be slaves today. Corruption also killed the South Vietmanese Army. They operated very similiar to many non modernized Asian military of its era. Generals and senior colonels were preselected from elite families (patronage system), and payroll was allocated to division commanders based on the number of soldiers in the unit. Commanders skimmed the money and what was left over went to the soldiers. There was less incentive to commit troops to battle, because casualties would reduce the number of men (thus payroll amount and amount that can be skimmed). Many South Vietmanese commanders hesitated to go into combat unless it was absolutely necessary. The good news is the US military learned from Vietnam and we emphasized on building cohesive battalion size units first and not massive divisions when we assist foreign allies in later Low Intensive wars.
The 2004 campaign ripped the lies away and exposed the truth that so many Americans, VN vets or not, knew back then was the truth. The 2004 campaign debate was far more than old people looking to correct misconceptions.
There was at least one reply posted here on FR wishing that the old people would die already so we could stop talking about Viet Nam.
Stop talking about VN? Sure and sit quietly while today's Walter Cronkites lie to the American people about the war to defend against radical Islam? I don't think so.
If Uncle and the Party, let's suppose,
Allowed free movement in and out,
Grandfather Marx's paradise
Would soon become the wilds where monkeys roam.
The ARVNs did ok but a lot of the problem was with their dispersal. As well as ours. Too many were based in the provincial capitals, usually for the financial benefit of the provincial governor.
ping, and thanks for your reply re. Vietnam War Memorial. Who are the first and last names for Ia Drang? Thanks.
Most Vietnam Vets I know would be willing to go back and do it again. I get a little worked up when I read your post and know what you are trying to say. I want to say the same thing you are thinking but just don't know how. We WERE the good guys in Vietnam, sooner or later that will come out more and more. What pisses me off is people like Bill Clinton and John Kerry, who actively supported the other side, seemed to have come out okay.
You really had some tours you can tell your grand children about. The EOD stuff was just different. It didn't matter if we were in Vietnam, Korea, or CONUS our job was basically the same.
People need to hear about Vietnam, they need to hear about the mistakes so they will never happen again. The world wouldn't be in the mess it is in now if we had been allowed to win. Communism would have still fallen, but a little sooner.
Ted Kennedy, if there is justice, you will burn in hell for eternity. You left not one, but millions of doomed Mary Jo's in the RVN.
They weren't blind. They knew exactly what they were doing --- crushing freedom wherever possible.
Unlike in Vietnam, the media was on our side during WWII.
This is true, plus we didn't try to save money and manage the war like a business like McNamara did.
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