Awhile back, I wrote a really long post contrasting Vietnam to Iraq and whatnot, but never finished it and it just sat there. Well, I don’t feel like writing anything new, so I’ll do some huge edits to that one and divide it into shorter ones and post them individually. And you’ll accept it because that’s all I’m giving you. Here goes:
My internet connection was disrupted this past weekend, and I couldn’t access any of my much needed news. So I decided to go “old school” and actually use a book as my source material. You know, the kind with paper. Very quaint, having to gently hold the old paperback while transcribing long passages. No cut-and-paste for me. I felt so Amish.
So I turned to my favorite book on Vietnam (and the only one I’ve ever read) titled: Vietnam – History, Documents, and Opinions on a Major World Crisis. It’s a collection of essays, speeches, papers, and other works on the Vietnam War which was published in 1965 and gives more than enough info to have predicted where the war would end up (ie, in the crapper).
We’ll start off with a selection from Tricky Dick and his fear for Japan, in a section titled: Fear of Impending French Defeat: “Remarks Attributed to” Vice-President Richard Nixon, from the April 17, 1954 New York Times:
Negotiations with the Communists to divide the territory would result in Communist domination of a vital new area. Communist intransigence in Korea perhaps will teach the French and the British the futility of negotiation and bring them over to the plan of “united action” proposed by Secretary of State Dulles …
It should be emphasized that if Indochina went Communist, Red pressures would increase on Malaya, Thailand, and Indonesia and other Asian nations. The main target of the Communists in Indochina, as it was in Korea, is Japan. Conquest of areas so vital to Japan’s economy would reduce Japan to an economic satellite of the Soviet Union.
Gee, and how did that turn-out, Dick?
And just to give context, when he says “negotiations with the communists to divide the territory,” he’s referring to the idea that we shouldn’t divide Vietnam into a North and South; which is exactly what happened in July of that year (though it was only supposed to be a temporary provision, until national elections could someday be held).
Because he didn’t even think they should have any of Vietnam, despite the fact that the Communists were considered the popular choice by much of the country. No, he just thought we should impose our “democratic” will onto the whole place. How kind of him. Conservatives always were in love with the benevolent dictator (a phrase used repeatedly by a pro-war supporter in an essay in that book). Just as long as they control the dictator. But as they keep finding, even that guy will keep screwing things up for them.
And in the end, not only did the Communists get to keep the north half of Vietnam, they got the whole damn thing. And just as Nixon predicted, the Communists quickly bowled-over Malaya, Thailand, and Indonesia; before turning Japan into an economic satellite of the Soviet Union. How prescient.
But wait. That didn’t happen. Even after we lost Vietnam twenty years later, having twice shown the world exactly how ineffective we were at waging land wars in Asia, none of this came true. Those were just scary fantasies dreamed up to justify an unjustifiable war. They didn’t care if it was true. They just needed some excuse to keep blowing shit up. Some things never change.
And ironically enough, it’s likely that Dick’s dislike of a partitioned Vietnam came from his fear that Vietnam might become another Korea, which had ended unsatisfactorily less than a year before he made these comments. And let me just say that the rightwing insistence on going double-or-nothing after each defeat will continue to drive me bonkers. Again, some things never change. I guess that’s why they call them conservatives.