Saturday, April 30, 2005

Marking the fall...

of Saigon thirty years ago today, I thought that I'd take a different approach than most. In remembering that terrible moment, I'll try to put to rest some of the bullshit surrounding it. IndyMedia marks the "Liberation of Saigon" with an observation:
The war scarred that land, and overspilt into the neighbouring states. A generation of Americans went to war as conscripts, and many of those who returned are still living, as veterans and victims of Hell brought to earth.

There are hundreds of sites on the Vietnam war, its causes, its origins, et cetera- And there are many books and no doubt you have seen a movie. Vietnam remembrance is big business, as so too will be in its time Iraq remembrance
Of course Iraq got jammed up in there, but lets explore another part of this paragraph as it is an important part of the narrative that has been shoved down our pants since we were pups. The breathless sentence "A generation of Americans went to war as conscripts, and many of those who returned are still living, as veterans and victims of Hell brought to earth" brings to mind an entire generation of youth raped of life's experience and placed in the eternal inferno of pointless war. Pretty bleak stuff indeed, and expected but is it true? Thomas Lipscomb, writing in the Chicago Sun-Times points to actual demographics to deflate this portion of the conventional narrative:
As "everyone knows," Vietnam was a war in which the lives of Americans drafted from the lower classes, disproportionately black and Hispanic, were wasted in a failed intervention in a civil war between Vietnamese. Except, as a former secretary of the Navy who served in Vietnam as a Marine officer, James Webb, has pointed out, 67 percent of those who served and 73 percent of those who died were volunteers, not draftees. And blacks ''comprised 13.1 percent of the serving age group, 12.6 percent of the military and 12.2 percent of the casualties.''
And so a large chunk of the prevailing story goes up in smoke. Roughly 27% of the deaths in Viet Nam were 'conscripted'--far from an entire generation. Using my limited spot math skills, that means that about three of every four Americans lost in that conflict volunteered for service, and the body of the military at the time pretty much reflected the American population at large. Lipscomb continues the dissection:
The "civil war between Vietnamese" is a misrepresentation of the Geneva Agreement of 1954 that, among other things, negotiated the removal of the French colonial power and separated North and South Vietnam at the 17th parallel, pending a popular election to be held in 1956 to determine a single government for them both. The majority of the population remained in the communist North, even after several million fled to South Vietnam. Sen. John Kennedy regarded the election as "obviously stacked and subverted in advance."

When, not surprisingly, it did not take place, the war began in the late 1950s with the return of communist cadres to what had now become South Vietnam as a "National Liberation Front" to create an insurgency against the Diem government. Better known as the Viet Cong, the NLF was not an independent political movement of South Vietnamese. According to an editor of the official North Vietnamese People's Daily, "It was set up by our Communist Party." So this was no civil war. North Vietnam began and supported a campaign of Viet Cong subversion of its sovereign southern neighbor.
That "we were simply meddling in another countries' indigenous affairs" seemed to be the accepted story of my youth. As it turns out, there was no independent Communist movement that shot up throught the rice terraces, from the breast of the oppressed Vietnamese worker/farmer. It was a puppet movement directed by the Communist regimes around Vietnam. For that matter, the same can be said about every "workers movement" over the last hundred years. The end result of the "Liberation of Saigon"? Lipscomb writes:
Now, 30 years later, the new "Asian tigers" have standards of living and booming economies that would astonish an old Asia hand like Dulles. Asian prosperity is the wonder of the 21st century and particularly valuable to U.S. trade. In this brilliant company of Asian states, full partners in the global economy, the People's Republic of Vietnam remains mired in irrelevancy. America may have lost a tactical intervention in Vietnam, but the Middle East should be so lucky as to have Iraq turn out to be "another Vietnam."
I would add to that statement: our disgraceful exit from Saigon, which was won by the left at home not lost by our men at war, triggered a blood-letting of biblical scale. Millions upon millions butchered at the hands of communists in S.E. Asia. It's time that we wake up to the reality of the true cost of what the anti-war movement has wrought; the deaths of millions. We now see that not only is it a lie that "a generation of Americans went to war as conscripts", but truly an entire generation in South East Asia was conscripted to mass graves at the hands of the workers' revolution. The "liberation of Saigon" would be more honestly titled the "rape of Saigon".

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