The Vietnam war:
Dr. Nguyen Gia Tien
The Western world often had an erroneous view of Vietnam's recent history. This was understandable because the heinously criminal acts of the current communist regime in Hanoi had not been fully revealed. Would all Stalin's crimes and the truth about USSR and the East European countries be known if there weren't a process of " destalinization " since 1953 and the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 ? We had a Nuremberg trial for the Nazis, but still no Nuremberg for Stalinism, and when can we have a Nuremberg for the Hanoi regime ?
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 cohorts against first the Japanese, then the French and finally the Americans.
In fact the truth is quite different.
1.The first Vietnam war (1946-1954 ) : A 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 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 clique 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. It wasn't pure chance, after Ho totally controlled North Vietnam, to witness 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 his clique 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, a massive exodus of a million refugees ( they could
be said to have " voted with theirs feet " ) fleeing from Communism and
an unscrupulous regime in the North which is still in place.
2-The Second Vietnam war (1960-1975): The legitimate defense of the South Vietnamese people was betrayed and rendered futile.
Ho and his clique's communist 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.
Following the 1954 Geneva Agreement between Ho Chi Minh and the French, which was not signed by the Bao Dai government and the US, and the partition of Vietnam at the 17th parallel, the two halves of Vietnam found themselves incorporated into the two opposing blocs of the Cold War. In South Vietnam, 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 aggrression .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 aggrression . 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 aggrressive 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 because of shortsightedness and demagogic political reasons.
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 .
30 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 an unscrupulous Red Mafia.
The recent history of Vietnam is in fact the history of a transition from “white colonialism” into “Red and Yellow colonialism”.
Switzerland, April 2004
Dr. Nguyen Gia Tien
- Hoang Van Chi : From Colonialism
to Communism ( Pall Mall Press, 1964 )
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