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


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The Vietnam War


Important points to grasp :

- Not a war between the USA and Vietnam, as pretended by the actual Communist Vietnamese Government in Hanoi, and in some Western books.

- It’s the war of subversion  in South Vietnam between the  Communist insurgents infiltrating from North Vietnam,  supported by the Communist Bloc (Russia, China ...), and the South Vietnamese people supported by the USA and the Western world.
It's somewhat like the Korean war, an ideological war.

                                                & & &

The Western world often had an erroneous view of Vietnam's recent history.

For misinformed people in the West, the Vietnam war was an “independence war” fought during 30 years (1945-1975) by Ho Chi Minh and his communists followers against first the Japanese, then the French and finally the Americans. 
In fact the truth is quite different.

This war can be divided in 2 stages :

1.  The First Vietnam War (1946-1954) or Victory hijacked by the Communists.
Indochina, which included Vienam, was a French colony until early 1945.
As early as 1942, the Japanese army entered Vietnam without a fight.  The French administration was too weak to oppose any conditions imposed by the Japanese (military bases,troop movements etc.  ).  Shortly before the end of World War II, on March 9,1945 a coup d’etat by the Japanese army put an end to the French occupation. 
The Independence of Vietnam was proclaimed for the first time after a century of French domination.  The first independent Vietnamese government, under Tran trong Kim’s leadership had to compromise to some extent with the occupying Japanese army.  But the Vietnamese patriotic movements, always latent during the years of French rule, experienced an unprecedented expansion from that day on.
This “elan” of patriotism was further exacerbated when 6 months later Vietnam became totally independent as a result of the Japanese capitulation. The Communists under Ho Chi Minh had nothing to do with this independence. The Vietnamese people enjoyed for the first time this great happiness they had aspired to for a century.  It was easy to understand why this patriotism, rendered red hot during the process of after war decolonization in South East Asia (Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia…) exploded when the French came back on the coat-tails of the British army (in fact the French contingent just followed British troops when they came to disarm the Japanese army in Indochina).
This patriotic “élan” was the real driving force behind the war of resistance against the French which broke out in the evening of December 19, 1946. 
Among the Vietnamese revolutionary leaders, who were then fighting the French attempt to reoccupy Indochina after the Japanese capitulation, there was a prominent group of Communists led by Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap, Pham Van Dong… 
Ho Chi Minh, a Moscow trained revolutionary, had in mind a goal other than national independence sought by nationalist leaders.  He and his cohorts wanted international Communism to supplant Colonialism in Indochina and were receiving specific orders from Moscow.  Now we understand why they were better organized, more homogeneous and experts in machiavelian political maneuvers. 
During the war, the Communists under Ho Chi Minh gradually took over by eliminating all non-communist leaders of the resistance.  It should be noted that at that time Communism was unknown to the general population.  The Communist party under Ho Chi Minh was hiding under the name of the Labor party (Dang Lao Dong). 
Therefore one can see that, at the beginning of the war, the true driving force behind the anticolonial struggle supported by all the people was Vietnamese patriotism that had nothing to do with communism ideology. 
Starting in 1949 when the Chinese communists came to power in China, Ho and his communist followers now had direct help from them.  With this help to back them up, they began to unveil their true communist nature. 
Owing to his total submission to Beijing, Ho Chi Minh obtained in return at the decisive battle of Dien Bien Phu direct participation of Chinese communists in Giap's command ( generals Wei Guoqing, Luo Guibo, Cheng Geng...and theirs ten of thousands of " volunteers " ).  This enable Giap to achieve victory in 1954 and introduce a "dictatorship of the Proletariat" patterned after the Beijing model, and the implementation of a bloody "Agrarian Reform" (1953-1956) which was truly a Pol Pot like type of genocide in which hundreds of thousands of people perished. 
Ho Chi Minh and the Vietnamese Communists in fact had transformed an independence war against French colonialism first into an international conflict and then steered it towards a "class struggle" to serve international Communism.

All those losses of human lives and time and the destruction of the country had no other purpose than substituting "white colonialism" with "red colonialism" in North Vietnam.  The result is, in 1954, after the Geneva Agreement which divided the coumtry in North and South Vietnam, a massive exodus from the North to the South of a million refugees (they could be said to have "voted with theirs feet") fleeing from Communism .

2.  The Second Vietnam War (1960-1975)  : The legitimate defense of the South Vietnamese people was betrayed and rendered futile.
Ho and his communist followers' vocation did not allow them to stop at the border of North Vietnam.  International Communism dictated that they should go further into South East Asia.
In South Vietnam, ex-emperor Bao Dai was succeeded by Ngo Dinh Diem and the generals (the last one was Nguyen Van Thieu).  With minimum US help, these governments managed to contain communist sabotage and infiltration from the North for some time.  In spite of being under a still imperfect democratic regime, the South Vietnamese people still enjoyed relative freedom, much better than what the North was experiencing under stalinist Ho Chi Minh. 
Beginning in 1960, with the help of Communist Bloc, North Vietnam intensified guerilla warfare in the South.  In 1965 huge caches of weapons coming from communist China, including the then very modern Kalashnikov rifles, were discovered in the South near Vung Ro (Nha Trang).  At about the same time, big battles already erupted all around the country causing South Vietnam to nearly succumb to communist subversion.
One witnessed the well known typical scenario of a "liberation war" that had already taken place elsewhere many other times around the world.  In each case it is simply an example of covert communist subversion.
Only then did the US Marines started landing at Da Nang beach in 1965, as prelude to more massive US involvement which kept increasing as the Communist bloc escalated its aggression.
The American intervention was in fact only a response to the strategy of subversion by the Communist bloc.  The true nature of the 1960-1975 war was the South Vietnamese people's defense, with US help, against the Communist bloc's aggression.  It was in fact a struggle to preserve South Vietnam's freedom against an attempt to impose a communist dictatorship.
 But the US internal politics, their influence on the conduct of this war, and the reasons why the Americans withdrew from Vietnam in 1973, would be the subject of another story.
However, the swift collapse of Saigon in 1975 could not be blamed on the South Vietnamese people's lack of motivation in defending freedom, nor the weakness of their armed forces.
 In 1972, when these forces were normally supported by the US, they did fight courageously and destroyed the Giap's armored divisions crossing the demilitarized zone into South Vietnam in a much larger offensive than that of 1975. 
Unfortunately, while the Communist bloc was fully and steadfastly supporting an aggressive North Vietnam, one could witness during the last two years of the war (1973-1974), a defeatist American Congress cut off large portions of supply and ammunition aid to South Vietnam . This betrayal was perfectly orchestrated and preceded by a campaign of denigration and disinformation in favor of the communists, which was fostered by most of the media and intelligentsia in the Western world. 
The reason of the lost of South Vietnam to the Communists was perfectly shown in the following paragraph from Nixon’s book “No More Vietnams” (page 165):
“Congress proceed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory … It undercut South Vietnam’s ability to defend itself by drastically reducing our military aid … When the North Vietnamese Army poised to launch its final offensive, the South Vietnamese Army was in its weakest condition in over five years, reeling from the effects of congressional budget cuts that had strapped it with its severe fuel and ammunition shortages”. 
Again after the fall of Saigon in 1975, 3 million of refugees escaped to the sea, fleeing from the Communist regime. The well known tragedy of Vietnamese "Boat People" is still in everybody's memory.

3.  Today’s Vietnam
33 years after the end of the war, Vietnam is still one of the poorest countries in the world, under the same Stalinist one party regime created by Ho chi Minh.
It’s still entirely a totalitarian country.  No political opposition is allowed.  Freedom of expression, of the press, of religion are non-existent.  Violations of human rights that occurred almost daily are regularly denounced by Amnesty International, Human right watch, Reporters without frontiers, Pen Club International… 
A few initiatives during recent years to open up the economy attracted only  predatory capitalistic ventures, causing some disorganized economic development.
Contrasting with general poverty in city slums and in the countryside, a new class of “nouveaux-riches” is emerging among the arrogant apparatchiks of the Party who are now gradually transforming themselves into a kind of unscrupulous Red Mafia. 
The recent history of Vietnam is in fact the history of a transition from “white colonialism” into “Red Mafia colonialism”. 
Switzerland, April 2008

-  Hoang Van Chi : From Colonialism to Communism ( Pall Mall Press, 1964 )
-  Philippe  Devillers : Leclerc et l'Indochine 1945-1947 ( Albin Michel 1992 )
-  King C.  Chen : Vietnam and China 1938-1945.  ( Princeton University Press, 1969 )
-  Hoang Van Dao : Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang . 
-  Norman Podhoretz : Why We Were in Vietnam .  ( Simon & Schuster, New York, 1982 )
-  Richard Nixon : No More Vietnams.  ( Arbor House, 1985 )
-  L.  A.  Patti : Why Vietnam ? ( Berkeley University Press, 1980 )
-  David G.  Marr : Vietnam 1945, The Quest For Power.  ( University of California Press, 1995)
-  Le Manh Hung : Cuoc chien Quoc-Cong tai Mien Bac 1945-1946 ( The Ky 21 Magazine, USA, September 1995 )

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