Most of what I am reading about the “Viet Nam=Iraq” debate seems to be stuck in the sixties. Indeed, most of what I’m reading resembles the same arguments I first heard in 1966 from one of the Harrisburg Six.

The problem with these arguments are so politicized on both sides that no one is seeing the invisible man: The Vietnamese themselves.

Presumably when one is discussing the aftermath of the Vietnam war, one would assume that a reporter somewhere might have ventured into the one million plus community of those who fled VietNam and asked an opinion. But I have “googled” in vain.

Nope, no Asians here, folks, just move along.

Most of the links about the conflict tend to politicized, but a good nuanced lecture about the conflict from the South Vietnamese point of view is found here:LINK in a lecture given by  Nguyen Ngoc Bich, a member on the Board Chair of the National Congress of Vietnamese Americans. and a lecturer in Vietnamese literature.

His lecture brings up several points:

One: The wars by the communists in VietNam lasted from 1946 to 1989. There were two wars after the American troops left: One a border war with China in 1979 that resulted in a quarter million ethnic Chinese to flee to China and then Viet Nam invaded Cambodia to overthrow of the PolPot regieme, followed by a long and locally unwelcome occupation of that country that lasted for ten years.
Two: The American press tended to be racist in their reporting of SouthVietNam, especially ignoring their willingness to take casualties.

With the highlights of the war shifting to the Americans and the RVN troops more and more relegated to defensive positions, no wonder that the American media, which had never had a very keen interest in covering the war from the point of view of the ARVN anyway, started badmouthing the main ally in the war, further delegitimizing the allied side. The worst stab in the back of the ARVN came in October 1967 when Newsweek flashed on its cover the lead article, “Their Lions, Our Rabbits,”5 which said it all.

Three: The American press ignored the presence of large numbers of North Vietnamese troops, and some writers denied their presence. The war was written as if it was a spontaneous rebellion, not an aggressive invasion by regular troops (not volunteers) who had been carefully indoctrinated into communist ideology in government schools.
Four: The cold war influence in the war has been ignored in the rewriting.  Not only do histories ignore the presence of Chinese and North Koreans, but the help from the Eastern bloc European countries.

only a Cold War interpretation can explain the support given by both the Soviet Union, China and other members of the international communist bloc throughout the war. Now we know that Soviet weaponry (including tanks and MiGs) was the backbone of the NVA equipment and that Soviet air intelligence was involved, that a variety of Chinese troops (mostly engineering troops and anti-aircraft units, numbered at 320,000 by Chinese sources) were involved in tours of duty stationing in North Vietnam, that some 801 North Korean pilots were engaged in direct combat with U.S. fighters19 over North Vietnam’s air space,

Five, The war in Viet Nam has to be placed into context with other “wars of liberation” in South East Asia, including the communist rebellion in the Philippines, the insurgency in Malaysia that was successfully defeated by the British, and the attempted communist putsch in Indonesia.

There are more strident Vietnamese analysts of that war (ex North Viet Nam Colonel Bui Tin comes to mind), but the simplistic interpretation of VietNam by American politicians on both sides of the argument belies both the history and context of that conflict.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her webpage is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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