Monday, April 30, 2007

30 April 1975

Today is Monday, 30 April 2007.

On this day in 1975, the Thirty Years War in Indochina, better known to Americans as the Vietnam War, concluded as Saigon fell to the forces of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRVN), or “North Vietnam”.

With imperial arrogance, Americans usually think of the Vietnam War as a phenomenon of the 1960s and ‘70s, when in fact it began on 2 September 1945, with the proclamation of the independence of the DRVN from the French Empire. Formal combat did not begin until the following year, and the French attempt to restore colonial rule continued until 1954, much of it sustained by American taxpayer dollars. The USA/USE then assumed hegemony over the so-called “Republic of Vietnam” (RVN), or “South Vietnam”. The USA installed Ngo Dinh Diem as leader, a masterpiece of foolishness, as he was a Catholic with a messianic sense of his own destiny in a predominately Buddhist country, a mandarin in a sea of peasants.

RVN was never a viable entity. One of the most profound contradictions, or animosities, in terms of governmental stability, among both the political classes and the officer corps, was between nationalists, who had opposed both the French and the Japanese invaders, and those who had made their careers by collaborating with the French occupiers. Add to this the corruption and economic exploitation characteristic of the French occupation, which was continued with gusto by their Vietnamese successors, and one had the makings of a classic disaster.

All compounded by the simple-minded anti-Communism of conservative Americans, particularly in the Republican Party, who saw “Communism” as one single, monolithic conspiracy, instead of a contentious alliance of nationalistic Communisms, each with its own agenda. The final straw was the infamous Domino Theory, which held that “Communist” victory in Vietnam would lead inevitably to the loss of Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, and finally Australia.

As has been pointed out in this column previously, the inclusion of RVN within the American imperial strategic perimeter was a geopolitical error of the first order. Vietnam had no geopolitical significance in the struggle between the USA and the USSR; its “loss” changed nothing. Its significance was human: the extermination of some 6,000,000 Indochinese and 60,000 Americans, and countless millions of others maimed.

The Museum of the Bourgeois mourns.

Is Iraq “another Vietnam”? This is a question I’ll revisit column after next.

Tomorrow is International Workers Day, and we’ll be “keeping the Red flag flying”.


Anonymous RtR said...

Giants and pragmatists.

A fundamental principal of FDR's postwar geopolitical vision was that the US would exercise its considerable diplomatic influence to refuse to allow any former Allied or Axis colony liberated from Japanese or German occupation to be returned to colonial status following the armistice.

The OSS trained Ho's resistance army.

FDR died. HST the paragon of pragmatic and efficient bureaucrats took office and the rest is unfortunate history.

He farmed out foreign policy strategy the the domino playing Dulles boys after tidying up things in Japan with LeManiac efficiency arguably precipitating the descent into the Maelstrom that was the Armageddon face of the 1950s and 1960s that birthed another Giant - Ronald Reagan.

Sort of a comparison of Prometheus versus Kronos.

10:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey RTR - why don't you write your comments so someone can understand them? Lots of us are not as versed in geo-political events, past and present, as you. Of course, if your audience is persons of your equal knowledge, then my apologies. I'm just a semi-ignoratant human when it comes to such things.

8:19 AM  
Anonymous RtR said...


A little of both - audience wise.

HH likes glass beads. In the site archive, HH provides the derivation of his nom de blog as being in honor of one of his favorite authors, Hermann Hesse. HH noted that "Magister Ludi" or "The Glass Bead Game" is one of his favorites by Hesse.

I believe that HH provides a glass bead or two in each post and I assume that the occasional reader of his blog may also enjoy playing with the beads.

In appreciation and in my own poor way, I sometimes attempt to provide a bead in return.

For what it's worth in way of understanding, I am a classically trained musician and where HH has blended poetry with commentary, my tendency is toward musical constructs.

Beginning with Beethoven, the musical rest - the grand pause -(3rd symphony, finale as a hallmark example) becomes integral. With John Cage, the unsaid is the statement.

The French named the Dandelion for the tooth of the lion - not for the shape of the leaf but rather for the shape bitten from the leaf.

9:59 PM  

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