Vietnam

Vietnam ‒ the country US generals once tried to “” ‒ is quietly leading the world in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, writes Peter Boyle.

At the height of the US invasion of Vietnam, about 500,000 United States military personnel were involved in the conflict. Of those, more than 50,000 lost their lives — and the US lost the war.

Two new books illustrate the enormous breadth, depth and courage of the soldier (GI) movement against the war.

Waging Peace in Vietnam is an ideological hand grenade thrown at the war mongers. Winter Warrior, for its part, uses a graphic, comic-book style to show the terrible personal cost inflicted on at least one anti-war Vet.

Fifty years ago, on March 16, 1968, US soldiers attacked the Vietnamese village of My Lai. Even though the soldiers met no resistance, they slaughtered more than 500 Vietnamese women, children and old men over the next four hours, in what became known as the My Lai massacre.

Fifty years ago, the Vietnamese resistance turned the tide against the United States war on their nation.

 

In Tokyo on January 24, 11 Pacific Rim countries including Australia reached an agreement to sign a revived Trans-Pacific Partnership (rebranded the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, CPTPP).

The huge free trade deal almost fell into oblivion last year when US President Donald Trump pulled his country out, citing concerns for the loss of US jobs.

One of the most hyped "events" of American television, The Vietnam War, has started on the PBS network. The directors are Ken Burns and Lynn Novick. Acclaimed for his documentaries on the Civil War, the Great Depression and the history of jazz, Burns says of his Vietnam films, "They will inspire our country to begin to talk and think about the Vietnam war in an entirely new way".

The 40th anniversary of the end of Vietnam War, which claimed the lives of millions of Vietnamese as a result of the United States aggression against the country, was marked on April 30. The war lasted from 1955 to 1975. Ending in Vietnamese victory with the forced US withdrawal. It is known in Vietnam as the “War Against the Americans to Save the Nation”.
Thousands of Venezuelan youth and supporters of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) government took part in a march on October 18 against terrorism and for peace. The youth march was organised in response to the assassination of Robert Serra, a 27-year-old PSUV parliamentarian and Chavista. Serra was murdered along with his partner Maria Herrera in their home on October 1. The demonstrators filled the streets of Caracas to take their demand ― that lawmakers officially declare the murder of Serra as an act of terrorism ― to the National Assembly.
In early February 1978, on the strength of a claimed turnover of $1 billion, the Australian Financial Review reported that “at this sort of growth rate Nugan Hand will soon be bigger than BHP.”
Few people from the 20th century can really claim to have changed history. One of them was General Vo Nguyen Giap, who led the Vietnamese people to defeat the French and American empires. Giap died on October 4, aged 102. Mainly remembered as a military leader, Giap was also one of Vietnam’s most significant political leaders. He was a revolutionary intellectual, an environmentalist and a campaigner for progressive change within Vietnam.
About 40 people attended public forum titled "Agent Orange campaign — experiences from Vietnam and Australia," on March 4. The forum was organised by Agent Orange Justice and heard from a delegation of speakers from the Vietnam Association for the Victims of Agent Orange/Dioxin (VAVA), and representatives from several Australia-based groups carrying out support work for Vietnamese victims of US chemical warfare during the Vietnam war.
The reality of the Vietnam War as a brutal, imperialist adventure has been carefully omitted from official ceremonies in the United States held to mark the 50th anniversary of the war’s beginning in 1962. Starting this year, the government will implement “a 13-year program to honor and give thanks to a generation of proud Americans who saw our country through one of the most challenging missions we have ever faced”.
Arriving in a village in southern Vietnam, I caught sight of two children who bore witness to the longest war of the 20th century. Their terrible deformities were familiar. All along the Mekong river, where the forests were petrified and silent, small human mutations lived as best they could. Today, at the Tu Du paediatrics hospital in Saigon, a former operating theatre is known as the "collection room" and, unofficially, as the "room of horrors". It has shelves of large bottles containing grotesque foetuses.
In the Crossfire: Adventures of a Vietnamese Revolutionary By Ngo Van AK Press, 2011 264 pages, $43.99 Australians know of the Vietnam War from the arrival of Australian troops in 1965 through to their withdrawal in 1973. People in the United States generally date it from the arrival of US advisors through to the inglorious departure of US helicopters in 1975. However, for the Vietnamese the struggle began long before that, from their colonisation by the French in the 19th Century.
Even though the US war on Vietnam ended nearly 40 years ago, the US’s saturation chemical bombing during that war is still wreaking havoc on the lives of at least 3 million people in Vietnam — including the newly born, making them third generation victims. Nobody knows when the congenital deformities, one of many horrific health consequences of the toxic chemicals, will end.
How do wars begin? With a “master illusion”, according to Ralph McGehee, one of the CIA’s pioneers in “black propaganda”, known today as “news management”. In 1983, he described to me how the CIA had faked an “incident” that became the “conclusive proof of North Vietnam’s aggression”. This followed a claim, also fake, that North Vietnamese torpedo boats had attacked a US warship in the Gulf of Tonkin in August 1964.

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