Skip to comments.Hanoi Chomsky II: The Left stands by its man, who stands by Ho Chi Minh.
Posted on 02/12/2003 1:31:26 AM PST by JohnHuang2
It seems that the report of Noam Chomsky's cheerleading speech for the Viet Cong in this blog provoked some discussion amongst left-anarchists.
Just as when they've been confronted with it before, they've first responded with denial that good ol' Noam could've ever said any such thing, then with defenses of his saying all of those things, just like the neo-Nazis who deny the Holocaust then claim that the Jews would've only gotten what was coming to them, anyways, if the Nazis had actually tried to exterminate them.
First, the sources: I got it from Stephen Denney, who was at the time running the UC Berkeley Indochina Center. He got it from the U.S. Foreign Broadcast Information Service, which is praised by historians as a source of foreign broadcasts and has never been accused of fraud as far as I know. Chomsky's own personal reply to the question about whether he gave the speech confirms that he did say and write such things at the time: "The passage quoted is reminiscent of things I actually wrote at the time, touching on the very same topics..." Chomsky then launches into an ad hominem attack against those who criticize him for supporting totalitarians by calling them totalitarians, which is both an ad hominem and a non-sequitur.
Second, the defenses: that Chomsky only praises the "Vietnamese people," not their State. This is not persuasive, as it is a common totalitarian euphemism to refer to "The People" when one is actually referring to the State which rules them. How, for example, would we view praise of the German people during WWII by Lord Haw-Haw, the Brit who became one of the most infamous radio propagandists for Nazi Germany? Then we have the claim that Chomsky actually was defending the North Vietnamese State, & that he was right to do so because it and its allies were superior to South Vietnam and its allies. This view has it that the totalitarian regimes of North Vietnam, Maoist China, and the Soviet Union, were less imperialist and oppressive than South Vietnam, the USA, and the rest of its allies. However, South Vietnam wasn't totalitarian, it was only authoritarian. Peaceful political opposition was allowed, multiple parties were allowed, and there was freedom of religion, although Catholicism did enjoy unjust privileges. Still, that makes it compare quite favorably with North Vietnam, where peaceful political opponents were imprisoned or executed, where there was only the one Party, and instead of freedom of religion there were compulsory "re-education" camps for anyone who believed in any religion at all. Political opponents and religious believers are still locked up and persecuted in Communist Vietnam.
As for the USA being more imperialist, the Viet Cong were trying to overthrow the governments of South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, so they could set up puppet regimes in all of those countries in an Indochina Federation along the lines Ho Chi Minh got from Stalin (who had similar plans for the Balkans which Tito thankfully didn't go along with), his old boss when Ho was a Comintern agent. The Viet Cong did this with the help of China, which intervened directly in Tibet and North Korea, repeatedly threatened Taiwan, and supported guerillas all over the Third World, and the Soviet Union, which invaded & occupied Eastern Europe at the end of WWII then puppetized all those countries and never withdrew the Red Army until 1989. In contrast, the USA tried to save South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from North Vietnamese imperialism, as it had saved South Korea and Taiwan from North Korean and Chinese imperialism, and as it had saved Western Europe from the Nazis and Japan from the Militarists.
As for the 3 million deaths attributed to the USA, about 2 million of those were murders committed by the Khmer Rouge, which was created and helped into power by the Viet Cong, and supported by China, North Vietnam, and the Soviet Union until 1979, when North Vietnam invaded because Pol Pot was insufficiently obedient to Hanoi and the Soviet Union followed suit. The rest wouldn't have happened if the Viet Cong hadn't committed aggression against 3 out of 4 of its neighbors. Even if we accept all 3 million as being the responsibility of the U.S. for the sake of argument, that number is literally dwarfed by the number of those mass-murdered by North Vietnam, China, and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union mass-murdered about 20 million in the collectivization of agriculture and the Gulag, according to the Black Book of Communism, while Maoist China mass-murdered about 60 million in the Chinese Civil War, Great Leap Famine, and the Cultural Revolution. That makes for a total of 80 million, without even including North Vietnam - more than 20 times the number attributed to the US even if we include the Khmer Rouge's democide count, 80 times the number resulting from subtraction of the Khmer Rouge's democide. As for the Viet Cong, they started murdering their political opponents, actual and potential, starting in 1945, after that great "anti-imperialist" was put into power in North Vietnam by the Chinese People's Liberation Army. They collectivized agriculture in North Vietnam during the late 1950s, following Chinese advice, killing an estimated 100,000 of their own people in the process. About 900,000 of their own people chose to flee to South Vietnam during that same time period. When the Viet Cong captured the city of Hue during the Tet Offensive of 1968, they murdered about 3,000 people, marching them out of town, forcing them to dig their own graves, binding their hands behind their backs with wire, kneeling them in front of their graves, then shooting them in the back of the head for such crimes as being street vendors who sold hand-made jewelry. When the final invasion came, the South Vietnamese people didn't welcome the Viet Cong as liberators, they fled from them as if they were flesh-eating zombies, fleeing the country in anything that could float by the hundreds of thousands. Those who made it were the lucky ones, those who were left behind to starve after the collectivization of South Vietnamese agriculture by the Viet Cong were the worst victims.
As for the attempt to make the Viet Cong look better by claiming that they invaded Cambodia & overthrew the Khmer Rouge for "humanitarian" reasons, that's simply not why the Vietnamese invaded Cambodia. Vietnam invaded Cambodia for imperialist reasons, not humanitarian ones, as all historians who aren't Soviet-line apologists will confirm - like Henry Kamm, just to name one example. Somehow, I doubt these defenders of democidal Commies would say that the US overthrew the Taliban for humanitarian reasons.
Chomsky chose to go to North Vietnam and praise the regime there as the one that came closer to his ideal social system than South Vietnam or the USA, just as his defenders do today. That gives us a pretty good idea of what they mean when they advocate "anarchy."
Vietnam invaded Cambodia because of repeated incursions and rocket attacks by the KR into Tay Ninh and An Giang provinces.
The KR's venemous hatred for the Vietnamese was institionalized in its written ideology and strategic planning. It wanted more than anything to retake "Kampuchea Krom," the Mekong Delta area lost to the Vietnamese over the course of 500 years.
The left of course, claims such. Yet offers no excuse for near decade long occupation of Cambodia by the Viets. Leaving only when Mother Russia went belly-up. And of course they never mention the numerous artillery duels with the Royal Thia Army...
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