Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The Legacy of Vietnam

April 30, 1975 – the fall of Saigon. The day that Vietnam fell to communism. On this morning, the streets of Saigon stood deathly still, subdued by a sense of impending doom. From the north, the Viet Cong were coming; their military tanks could be heard in the near distance.

Some of the men, like my grandfather, burned their uniforms and fled for their lives. Others such as my father, too young to fight, stood and wept bitterly for the freedom that was now lost. The Americans had left long ago. Nothing could save them from the vengeance of their worst enemies, their own countrymen.

In the days that followed, a new era of totalitarian rule was unleashed upon the Vietnamese people. The world could only watch and cringe as the newly reinstated Socialist government began its systematic persecution of opposition political leaders and their followers. Thousands of innocents were tortured and executed in “work” camps, mere euphemisms for concentration death camps. In this society, where any deviation from the party line had punishing consequences, few dared to protest.

For many Vietnamese, living the nightmare of socialism and poverty, enough was enough. It’s commonly said that in a system where people have no political voice, they vote instead with their feet. Two million desperate Vietnamese fled to the high seas; only an estimated half of these refugees, among them my parents, were lucky enough to find haven in sympathetic neighboring and Western nations.

As we flashforward to the present, little has changed. In 2007 Vietnam was ranked as one of the worst violators of human rights in the world by Freedom House. No freedom of religion, no freedom of political expression, and no freedom of the press. All thanks to a regime that efficiently imprisons and silences a population of 85 million.

That is the deep heartbreak of the Vietnamese people, as thirty-two years later, we look upon this date today and mourn for a nation that is still not free.
This inevitably leads me to ask – what is the legacy of this day and the suffering of the Vietnamese people? As our nation questions whether Iraq has become this generation’s Vietnam, the disheartening tragedy that befell the Vietnamese after U.S. withdrawal should be a compelling lesson for us in Iraq.

Under the Paris Accords of 1973, the U.S. government had promised it would continue to provide financial support to the South Vietnamese even after withdrawing American troops from the country. In 1975, President Gerald Ford asked Congress to approve legislation granting financial assistance for the South. But Congress denied Ford’s request, and effectively cut off the final remaining lifeline for the Vietnamese dream of freedom, leaving the population at the mercy of the Viet Cong.

In March of this year, President Bush called upon Congress to renew legislative funding for our troops in their efforts to keep Iraq secure for democracy. In response, Congress has demanded a clause mandating the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops, perhaps as early as the end of this year. Already it appears that many in the House and the Senate are ready to turn their backs on Iraq as well.

I have this last piece to say. Our country simply can not betray the Iraqi people as it did in Vietnam. Our troops must stay to keep the peace until it is certain that the peace is lasting. That much we owe to the Iraqi people.

The obligations we assume in securing stability and democracy abroad are ones that we must keep and ultimately fulfill. And if we truly do not want another Vietnam to unfold in Iraq, then that is a promise that we cannot afford to break. Our nation must stay the course in Iraq.

History’s shown us what unfolded in Vietnam after we departed. Let us not repeat that same mistake.

-Jessica Vu
UC Berkeley

did you two meet at the CIA training facility in Berkeley?? How much did the Zionist/Imperialists pay you to be their mouthpiece..
I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

Politicians make no difference.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). If you would like to read how this happens please see:

Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the SYSTEM get too large. It is now a SYSTEMIC problem and the SYSTEM is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous.

There is no conspiracy. The SYSTEM has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existance.

The politicians rely on them for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the BIG SYSTEM.

So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. I see a government ENRON on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning.

The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

For more details see:
Yes, the alternative is to fight for another 10 years, killed and be killed, and then to be forceably evicted as an imperialist power who waged a war based on lies to secure its own interests.

Yes, America should make sure that if Iraq is going to have independence and a gov't on its own terms, it does so at a heavy price. (sarcasm)

Sorry Arash, the article was nothing short of propaganda.

But I did find this humorous:

"did you two meet at the CIA training facility in Berkeley?? How much did the Zionist/Imperialists pay you to be their mouthpiece.."

p.s. Arash, I know you can be sensitive to criticism, but don't get butt hurt when I tell you that I think you're a right-wing democract.

Your nickname should be: Arash Lieberman
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