Vietnam War: A lesson for America

03/05/2016


It’s the 41st anniversary of the Victory day of April 30, 1975, the day the Vietnamese people, led by the Communist Party of Vietnam, were finally victorious in the long just struggle for national independence and unification against the United States and its puppet regime in Saigon. 
The issue were hit by the Guardian in huge type on the front page: “VICTORY IN VIETNAM!” The lead article began: “Vietnam is completely liberated. After 35 years of continuous heroic struggle against Japanese, French and American imperialism, the Vietnamese people from north to south are free and independent.”
The day after the U.S. debacle the name of Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital where the American command was situated until being unceremoniously, was changed to Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the great leader of the Indochinese people who died in 1969. Hanoi, to the north, remained the capital of reunified Vietnam. Vietnam never receive war reparations payments from the U.S. for the massive loss of life and destruction.
Vietnam at the time had a population of about 52 million situated on both sides of the 17th parallel, temporarily dividing North and South Vietnam. Over four million were killed in Washington’s aggressive war upon a very poor largely peasant society beginning in the mid-1950s when the U.S. took over from the defeated French colonialist armies. France had occupied and oppressed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia (Indochina) for over 100 years, then it became America’s turn. U.S. bombings killed at least a million more people in Laos and Cambodia.
For an American society fearfully fixated on a few domestic terrorist incidents such as the Boston Marathon killings or the so-called “underwear” bomber, the immensity of the deaths caused by their own government in Iraq, Vietnam and so many other countries, is evidently incomprehensible and thus unimportant.
Most Americans, except for families of the dead, veterans and war opponents, never think about the Vietnam War — one of history’s most unequal and vicious. Young Americans in general have received only a bowdlerized trace of information at school. At the same time, the lives of many Americans who protested this shameful war — civilians plus antiwar GIs and draft resisters — were largely radicalized and changed forever. Now in their sixties through eighties and older, they continue to this day to protest war and injustice. For some, details of this war remain indelibly etched in memory.
Droves of Americans, including a substantial number of former soldiers, now visit  Vietnam every year. Many tour the war museums, the old battlefields and tunnels used by peasants and fighters to escape from or to attack American forces. The Vietnamese treat such visitors courteously, without a sign of enmity, which is quite remarkable considering the horrors perpetrated upon a country that survived more explosive tonnage than the U.S. deployed during World War II in Europe and Asia-Pacific — 15,500,000 tons of air and ground munitions during the Vietnam War; 6,000,000 tons in WW II.
U.S. combat deaths from 1955-1975 were 47,424, nearly all in the latter part of the war. Officially, Afghanistan is Washington’s longest war at 14 years, but unofficially Vietnam is six years longer. In time, Afghanistan may live up to its dubious designation since the U.S. government continues to delay full withdrawal of combat forces.
It may be of interest to learn that the total number of American combat deaths in 76 wars from 1775 to 2015 (including all the dead on both sides during the Civil War) amounts to 846,163. That’s less than the UN-verified total of a million Iraqis, half of whom were young children, who died from 1991 to 2003 due to killer sanctions. This was followed by another million dead Iraqis from the 2003-2011 war.
Compare the U.S. total of combat deaths in World War II (291,557) to the number of Russian combat and civilian deaths (27 million). There were no civilian deaths in the U.S, which has not suffered war damage from foreign invasions since the British War of 1812-15. Most of Russia was flattened east of the Ural Mountains in WWII. In Washington’s 1950-1953 war against North Korea, every city and most towns were destroyed by U.S. carpet bombings. Several millions were killed. The U.S. suffered 33,686 combat deaths.
Militarism, a principal element in U.S. society, thrives on unequal wars where the weapons, technology and communications of the “enemy” are far inferior and where it is impossible for an inch of U.S. territory to experience the footprint of a foreign soldier. Since the Civil War the American people, landscape and infrastructure has been untouched by war.
This is not as good as some think. America is the world’s principal mass killer since the end of WWII but its people are so accustomed to wars that cause them no pain and suffering that they easily support, or are indifferent to, unjust aggression in the name of protecting America. Ironically, there’s hardly any need to protect America, enclosed between two oceans in an impenetrable fortress. But government fear mongering about the nation’s vulnerability is a most useful lie intended to perpetuate Washington’s insistence upon functioning as global overlord and military superpower.
America experienced an earthshaking lesson in Vietnam — “Stop your unjust wars of aggression!” —but Washington learned nothing from its humiliating defeat except to shift its battlefields of choice from Southeast Asia to Southwest Asia (i.e., the Middle East).
The U.S. went on to fight in Iraq three times and impose long sanctions in 25 continuous years; in Afghanistan the Pentagon has been fighting for 14 years and has achieved nothing; in Libya the U.S. bombed for less than a year but managed to spark a civil war and open the door to the Islamic State in the process. Many smaller incursions have taken place since losing the Vietnam war. For instance, the Obama Administration for years took actions to overthrow Syrian President Assad, and all the White House has to has to show for it is a jihad war led by the Islamic State and the al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda).
         The U.S. government may not ever learn the lessons of the Vietnam War, compelled as it is by a socio-economic political system to create a better world first and foremost for the 1%, and empty rhetoric and wars for the rest of us. But we hope the lessons learned from the 1960-1975 era of uprisings for social change are not entirely forgotten but revived, improved and in time put into practice at a much higher and decisive level./.
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All comments [ 10 ]


John Smith 3/5/16 21:28

Vietnam never received war reparations payments from the U.S. for the massive loss of life and destruction. So injustice!

Deck Hero14 3/5/16 21:29

If Vietnam had bombed the United States for fifteen years bringing death to some three million Americans in cities, towns and countryside across America during a brutal occupation by a half-million heavily armed Vietnamese soldiers, there is no way that the US would not have brought Vietnam before the International Court of Justice.

Gentle Moon 3/5/16 21:30

Lesson learned!

Pack Cassiopian 3/5/16 21:31

America is the world’s principal mass killer since the end of WWII but its people are so accustomed to wars that cause them no pain and suffering.

LawrenceSamuels 3/5/16 21:36

Deck Hero14: The ICC would have surely ruled in favor of the US plaintiff and against Vietnam.

Only Solidar 3/5/16 21:38

The U.S. learned nothing from its humiliating defeat except to shift its battlefields of choice from Southeast Asia to the Middle East.

Jane smartnic 3/5/16 21:40

For the vast majority of Westerners, that is to say both US Americans and their relatives (imagined or real) in Europe, the war against Vietnam was a brutal military conflict waged by the United States.

MaskOf Zero 3/5/16 21:41

Briefly described, the Vietnam Syndrome is a creation of the hormonally dysfunctional among the US ruling class, its acolytes and functionaries.

yobro yobro 3/5/16 21:43

Yes, there is always a Vietnam Syndrome in the U.S.

Love Peace 3/5/16 21:47

Obama administration may not have learned that lesson carefully, and nơ they have made a lot of mistakes around the world.

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