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Two Different Wars - One Destructive Parallel

Hoi Tran, refugee from North Vietnam after the 1954 partition, became a South Vietnam Air Force fighter pilot, flying thousands of missions, his last to escape in 1975 to the U.S. Hoi Tran blogs at VietAmericanVets. He is the author of this guest post below.

Before, a quick review of history:

April 30, 1975: Before dawn, the last American helicopter lifted from the U.S. embassy’s roof, with the ambassador aboard.

Lewis Sorley’s A Better War is one of the best detailings of the last years of U.S. military efforts in Vietnam, years during which many of the previous failures were turned around but during which opposition to continuing mounted within the U.S., crowned by the resignation of Richard Nixon sweeping Democrats into legislative power.

The collapse of the South Vietnamese has been attributed to any number of causes, but over time three have stood out as the most prominent. One, a simple matter of fact, had to do with the termination of political support, reduction of materiel support, and eventually even denial of fiscal support to the South Vietnamese by their sometime American ally. This was the work of Congress…It stood in stark contrast to the uninterrupted support rendered North Vietnam by her Soviet and Chinese allies….

A second cause had to do with the task, never adequately accomplished, of providing effective leadership for a military establishment rapidly and hugely expanded over a relatively short time, and for expanded civilian bureaucracy as well….

A third key cause was failure to isolate the battlefield to cut off enemy infiltration and resupply, and to deny the sanctuaries in Cambodia, Laos, and North Vietnam.

Mark Moyar’s Triumph Forsaken: The Vietnam War 1954-1965 presents the inside documents and debates, from North, South and Washington, that had the U.S. refuse to sever the Ho Chi Minh trail in Laos early on and then the U.S. to topple the administrative organization and population control of Saigon in 1963 after Northern cadre and supplies surprised D.C. war theorists, their anxieties fed by inept and mendacious reporting in major U.S. newspapers, overriding those with real war experience, like the Joint Chiefs.

Two Different Wars, One Destructive Parallel

by Hoi B. Tran

After the fall of the Republic of Vietnam (RVN aka South Vietnam) on April 30, 1975, from the White House, President Ford issued an official statement: “The Government of the Republic of Vietnam has surrendered. Prior to its surrender, we have withdrawn our Mission from Vietnam. Vietnam has been a wrenching experience for this nation...History must be the final judge of that which we have done or left undone, in Vietnam and elsewhere. Let us calmly await its verdict”.

The hindsight of history substantiated with facts from recent declassified top-secret national security materials makes the long awaited verdict convincingly clear. America never lost the war in Vietnam militarily as trumped up by the liberal media and defeatist, biased writers. Ironically, America did abandon South Vietnam because of political division in the U.S. Congress and relentless attacks from the biased liberal media and misinformed or naïve antiwar activists in Washington D.C. (1). Sadly, the RVN was a victim of circumstance.

You need not be a rocket scientist to understand; the proxy war Americans fought in Vietnam over four decades ago and the current war on terror in Iraq are two completely different wars in every aspect of a war. However, in both wars, one destructive parallel exists. The biased liberal mainstream media (2), misinformed antiwar activists to include some former government officials and some Hollywood celebrities are champion in sabotaging our cause, crushing our will, praising and emboldening the enemy (3).

Distorted and negative reports by the liberal media enormously boosted the North Vietnamese Army (NVA) and the National Liberation Front (NLF) morale while destroying American resolve and support for the war (4). Below is the chronology of destructive events leading to the downfall of the RVN:

- August 8, 1968, Presidential candidate Richard M. Nixon’s pledge (5) hinted to the North Vietnamese the U.S. will exit Vietnam at any price: “And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there -- we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams”.

- March 2, 1969, the Sino-Soviet split reached its peak and almost led to war. Exploiting this Sino-Soviet confrontation, the U.S played the China-Soviet card seeking detent with the Soviet Union and rapprochement with China to extricate from Vietnam. The Soviet Union and China were two major patrons of North Vietnam.

- November 21, 1970, Jane Fonda, a famous American movie star praised communism in the U.S. In a speech at the University of Michigan in front of an audience of some two thousand students, she openly stated, "If you understood what communism was, you would hope, you would pray on your knees that we would some day become communist."

- January 18, 1971, Senator George McGovern (D.-South Dakota) stated in a speech to announce his candidacy for the 1972 Democratic Presidential Nomination (6): “First, we must have the courage to admit that however sincere our motives, we made a dreadful mistake in trying to settle the affairs of the Vietnamese people with American troops and bombers. I have opposed that intervention from the beginning, while our President and other presidential prospects were supporting it. There is now no way to end it or to free our prisoners except to announce a definite, early date for the withdrawal of every of American soldier. I make that pledge without reservation”.

- July 1971, through China Ping Pong diplomacy and with the help of Pakistan President Yahya Khan, Henry Kissinger secretly met China Premier Chou En Lai paving the way for the February 21, 1972 summit meeting between President Nixon and Chairman Mao Zedong in China (7). Sino-U.S. rapprochement began.

- June 20, 1972, Henry Kissinger met Chou En Lai again in Peking, China to discuss more on details of the Indochina issue (8).

- July 1972, Jane Fonda went to Hanoi and posed with communist gunners on a Soviet built anti-aircraft gun. She also made several anti-America pro-communist broadcasts on Hanoi radio. This is an excerpt of what she said:

“One thing that I have learned beyond a shadow of a doubt since I've been in this country is that Nixon will never be able to break the spirit of these people; he'll never be able to turn Vietnam, north and south, into a neo- colony of the United States by bombing, by invading, by attacking in any way. One has only to go into the countryside and listen to the peasants describe the lives they led before the revolution to understand why every bomb that is dropped only strengthens their determination to resist”.

- August 23, 1972, in his second race for the White House, President Nixon reasserted he would fulfill his pledge 4 years ago in an attempt to win a second term (9): “As your President, I pledge that I shall always uphold that proud bipartisan tradition. Standing in this Convention Hall 4 years ago, I pledged to seek an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We have made great progress toward that end. We have brought over half a million men home, and more will be coming home. We have ended America's ground combat role. No draftees are being sent to Vietnam. We have reduced our casualties by 98 percent. We have gone the extra mile, in fact we have gone tens of thousands of miles trying to seek a negotiated settlement of the war. We have offered a cease-fire, a total withdrawal of all American forces, an exchange of all prisoners of war, internationally supervised free elections with the Communists participating in the elections and in the supervision”. This gave the North Vietnamese a clear signal the U.S. would accept any terms only to get the POWs back and to leave the RVN to deal with the communists!

- November 14, 1972, to convince the RVN to sign the Paris Peace Accord, President Nixon sent a letter to President Thieu promising: “You have my absolute assurance that if Hanoi fails to abide by the terms of this agreement it is my intention to take swift and severe retaliatory action”.

- January 27, 1973, because of increasing political turmoil and antiwar movements in America, re-elected President Nixon forced the RVN to sign the flawed and deadly Paris Peace Accord to end the war in Vietnam.

- June 19, 1973, U.S. Congress passed the Case-Church Amendment forbidding any further U.S. military involvement in Southeast Asia, effective August 15, 1973. The veto-proof vote is 278-124 in the House and 64-26 in the Senate. The Amendment paves the way for North Vietnam to wage yet another invasion of the South, this time without fear of U.S. bombing.

- August 9, 1974, under relentless political pressure and impeachment, President Nixon resigned his presidency. President Gerald R. Ford became the 38th U.S. President.

- September 1974, Congress cut military aid to the RVN substantially and appropriated only $700 millions. This was another deadly blow to the overall morale of the RVN!

- December 13, 1974, North Vietnam tested America’s will by attacking Phuoc Long. In response to Hanoi’s blatant violation of the Paris Accord, President Ford protested diplomatically only, as Congress had banned all military activity in Southeast Asia (10).

- December 18, 1974, Politburo conferred in Hanoi to plan their general offensive.

- January 8, 1975, Hanoi committed 20 divisions to invade the RVN.

- January 14, 1975, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger testified before Congress that the U.S. had failed to fulfill its promises to the RVN when Hanoi seriously violated the Peace Accord.

- January 21, 1975, President Ford stated in a press conference “the U.S is unwilling to re-enter the war”. This was a clear Green Light for Hanoi to proceed with the invasion.

- February 5, 1975, Van Tien Dung secretly infiltrated into South Vietnam to assume command of the final offensive.

- April 30, 1975, the RVN fell into the hand of the North Vietnamese communists.

That was thirty-two years ago. Born and grew up in Hanoi, North Vietnam, I had to leave my hometown to go to South Vietnam when the country was divided at the 17th parallel in 1954. In accordance with the Geneva Agreement, North Vietnam would be under communist regime and the nationalist Vietnamese would govern South Vietnam. That was my first evacuation in pursuit of liberty and freedom. In South Vietnam, I continued to fight communism to protect our way of life but we could not achieve our ultimate goal. In April 1975, I had to flee my motherland again, this time to America, a strange country on the other side of the Pacific. After resettling in America and becoming an American, I thought I would never see war again.

Unfortunately, global terrorist Al Qaeda, the enemy of freedom had committed an act of war against our country on September 11, 2001 on our own soil. Global terrorists had forced America into a war to defend freedom and liberty of her citizens.

The war on terror is entering its fourth year. As a concerned citizen, I have been closely following the progress on the war in Iraq. Lately, I began to see some dangerous déjà vu vis a vis the war on terror! It appears the same scenario is being repeated! The battle in the home front is more frustrating and vicious than the fight against the coward terrorists half way around the globe! In this current war on terror, the same trio, the biased liberal media, liberal defeatist members in Congress (11), former government official and misinformed citizens are doing their best to vilify our cause, weaken our military effort and erode our will (12). To make the matter worse, the liberal media and some defeatist members of Congress were capitalizing on the naivety of misinformed citizens to create hatred and despise toward the Administration in a time of war. Of course, terrorists applaud this effort. They would eagerly monitor this political division and antiwar developments in America like the communist in Vietnam did during the Vietnam War. And they are waiting for their liberal American allies in the mainstream media, in Congress and on the streets of America to help them defeat America from Washington D.C. All they need to do now is prolong the war and continue killing Americans in Iraq. This will provide their liberal American allies in America the necessary psychological ammo to cripple our will and eventually, destroy public support for the war.

Having gone through this in the Vietnam War and ended up being a victim of a political defeat over 30 years ago, this writer is concerned watching the same scenario unfolding in America. I strongly believe it is time for America to do what is necessary to win the war on terror rather than to appease the defeatist members of Congress or to fear criticism from the extreme liberal left media. I do not like war because I had lived and fought in the war in Vietnam for freedom almost my entire adolescent and adult life. However, in defense of freedom and our way of life, I will not hesitate to fight again if my health and age permit. This is a war we must fight and cannot afford to lose. If we lost, global terrorist will bring war and destruction to our own soil and our next generation will suffer. It is time to wake up America!
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
(1) From Enemy to Friend by Bui Tin. Naval Institute Press 2002, page 107 to 114.

(2) During the Tet offensive in January 1968, when U.S. and Vietnamese Forces almost wiped out the entire infrastructures of the National Liberation Front (NLF) and North Vietnamese Army (NVA) in South Vietnam, Walter Cronkite, the most respected journalist in America reported, “the Vietnam war was unwinnable”.

(3) Bui Tin interviewed by Stephen Young: “Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us”.

(4) After the war, Col. Bui Tin, a high ranking North Vietnamese officer revealed in an interview with Stephen Young: “Our losses were staggering and a complete surprise;. Giap later told me that Tet had been a military defeat, though we had gained the planned political advantages when Johnson agreed to negotiate and did not run for re-election. The second and third waves in May and September were, in retrospect, mistakes. Our forces in the South were nearly wiped out by all the fighting in 1968. It took us until 1971 to re-establish our presence, but we had to use North Vietnamese troops as local guerrillas. If the American forces had not begun to withdraw under Nixon in 1969, they could have punished us severely. We suffered badly in 1969 and 1970 as it was”.

(5) Presidential Nomination Acceptance speech at Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida on August 8, 1968 published by Nixon/Agnew Campaign Committee: “And I pledge to you tonight that the first priority foreign policy objective of our next Administration will be to bring an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We shall not stop there -- we need a policy to prevent more Vietnams.”

(6) Statement by Senator George McGovern (D.-S.D.) announcing candidacy for the 1972 Democratic Presidential Nomination on January 18, 1971 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. McGovern for President Press Release.

(7) The National Security Archive. President Nixon met Chairman Mao in China.
http://www.gwu.edu/%7Ensarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB145/index.htm

(8) The National Archives. Dr. Kissinger met Premier Chou in China.
www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB193/HAK%206-20-72.pdf

(9) President Nixon’s remarks in his acceptance of the Presidential Nomination of the Republican National Convention on August 23, 1972 for the second term: “As your President, I pledge that I shall always uphold that proud bipartisan tradition. Standing in this Convention Hall 4 years ago, I pledged to seek an honorable end to the war in Vietnam. We have made great progress toward that end. We have brought over half a million men home, and more will be coming home. We have ended America's ground combat role. No draftees are being sent to Vietnam. We have reduced our casualties by 98 percent. We have gone the extra mile, in fact we have gone tens of thousands of miles trying to seek a negotiated settlement of the war. We have offered a cease-fire, a total withdrawal of all American forces, an exchange of all prisoners of war, internationally supervised free elections with the Communists participating in the elections and in the supervision”.

(10) Bui Tin interview by Stephen Young: “Well, when Nixon stepped down because of Watergate we knew we would win. Pham Van Dong [prime minister of North Vietnam] said of Gerald Ford, the new president, "he's the weakest president in U.S. history; the people didn't elect him; even if you gave him candy, he doesn't dare to intervene in Vietnam again." We tested Ford's resolve by attacking Phuoc Long in January 1975. When Ford kept American B-52's in their hangers, our leadership decided on a big offensive against South Vietnam. We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect”.

(11) Meet the Domestic Enemy by John Perazzo on Front Page Magazine March 20, 2007. http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/ReadArticle.asp?ID=27465

(12) Former Vice President Al Gore, Sean Penn, Michael Moore, George Soros, Cindy Sheehan…..

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