Vietnames version
Old Saigon Echo website
from 2008 - 2012
Play
Director: Bai An Tran, Ph.D.

               Reflection:

  • Font size:
  • Decrease
  • Reset
  • Increase

Our Veterans’ Propaganda Battle

Herald Sun, Australia, August 18, 2005
* Trung V. Doan

20080927102656 OurveterTrung-04 
On this Vietnam Veterans' Day today, soldiers of the Vietnam War are less misunderstood, but not the war itself.

When Vietnam veterans returned from Vietnam, they got the cold shoulder.

Many Australians now think the veterans deserved better. Not because they are heroes, but because it was not their fault to fight the wrong war.

Some Australians believe that it was a civil war, none of Australia's business. They say the Americans invented the domino theory to justify sending in troops, who massacred innocent villagers for no good reason. And North Vietnam fought to defended itself, not because it wanted to grab the South's riches.

These days – as Vietnam's economy opens up – surely its people will enjoy more freedoms, effectively meaning the war fought for nothing. Unfortunately, these theories do little but perpetuate many war-time deceptions and half-truths.

The lies are still here today, particularly in textbooks, mis-informing future generations.

Take the deception that the domino theory was an American concoction.

Visit the Communist Party of Vietnam website, click on its founder's official biography, and learn that Ho Chi Minh "deemed it his task to spread communist doctrine in Asia in general and in Indochina particularly".

Another huge and literal half-truth is America's involvement.

Yes, it was in Vietnam, but few know that so were the Soviet Union and China, in a major way. According to their own records, the Soviets gave Hanoi at least 1 billion dollars a year. Similarly, China poured in at least 15 billion, and at least 300 thousand 'military advisors' and troops. Even the North Koreans sent in pilots, as Hanoi now acknowledges.

While the Communist bloc continued pouring in tanks and machineguns to help Hanoi, in the final years the West turned its back, drying up supplies of bullets and fuel to Saigon.

And yet many high school textbooks read in parts like anti-war propaganda. Some approvingly quote anti-war leaflets. And most textbooks highlight American, but downplay or ignore Communist atrocities.

Typically, one textbook displays a large photograph of more than 300 My Lai victims massacred by the Americans in 1968, yet ignores the 4000 Hue victims massacred by the Communists a few weeks earlier.

The clear implication is that the Americans and their allies recklessly killed civilians. But if guerillas dressed up as civilians and hid among civilians, then civilians were intentional pawns in a strategy to win propaganda and military advantages.

That protecting the South's freedom was a good cause, was belatedly proven in 1975. The vindictive and vicious regime put 1 million people into labour camps, killed thousands there, and drove at least hundreds of thousands to their deaths on the seas while escaping.

It vengefully bulldozed the South's military cemeteries. It confiscated Southerners' homes and churches. It decreed that all land belonged to the Communist Party. It declared the currency worthless to ensure all were equally poor. It outlawed all unions, newspapers, churches – not even sports clubs were spared.

Today, while opening its doors to export cheap goods made by workers whose wages are low because unions are run by the Communist Party, the regime still mainly keeps its doors closed to foreign journalists.

That's why few outsiders know about last Easter's massacre of perhaps hundreds of Central Highland protesters, or the hundreds of political prisoners. We'd better question what we know about the war, for we may unknowingly believe half-truths.

And we'd better ask for our schools to ensure our children's textbooks are free of propaganda. To do so is to respect the sacrifices of Vietnam veterans, fallen or alive.

Trung Doan is general secretary of the Vietnamese Community in Australia

Switch mode views: