Monday, December 03, 2007

A Correction

The other day on About Face, we talked about the lack of protest against our current war as opposed to protest against the Vietnam war. At one point, we mentioned that some protesters in the 60's actually sympathized with the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. I know I did. Not because I hated America but because I recognized the difference between Vietnamese Communism and the Communist Menace. I didn't have a great regard for the South Vietnamese forces, primarily because I saw them fighting on the wrong side of Vietnamese history for a puppet government. Americans had little faith or trust in our South Vietnamese allies and I shared that opinion pretty much by osmosis and pre-existing prejudice. My only knowledge of actual South Vietnamese operations was the ill-fated Operation Lam Son 719, that tied up all of our helicopters and ended in a disastrous South Vietnamese retreat. During our discussion, that perception came out as "They wouldn't fight."

We had a call from a South Vietnamese veteran who didn't challenge my statement directly but he reminded us that many South Vietnamese fought against Communism and were proud of their fight, regardless of how it ended. The call made me realize that whatever I may have thought about the South Vietnamese regime, there were many who considered it better than a Communist victory and bravely fought with Americans to prevent that victory. The call also reminded me of how much respect I had for all Vietnamese because of their endurance and determination. The North was disciplined and tenacious. The South lacked that cohesion but had a LOT of drive and initiative. I thought at the time that even if the Communists won, the entrepreneurial drive of the South Vietnamese would change the nature of that victory over time, which is what happened. During my tour, I was always amazed at the Vietnamese ability to somehow manage to live in the midst of that chaos. In some cases that meant fighting, more often it meant enduring.

A more correct description of the South Vietnamese would be that they lacked a government that was worthy of their sacrifice.

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Blogger The Minstrel Boy said...

how can we not allow the folks who fought for the south the latitude for humanity? i fought beside many committed and tough vietnamese "marvins." i also saw a great deal of insanely corrupt provincial warlords who wore uniforms while they looted the land and the people. i also saw simple peasant lads who were conscripted by both sides. all those kids wanted to do was to survive in hope of returning to their village someday. there were also mercenary units utilized by both sides. the hmong units that our CIA used were often organized and trained by ex-foriegn legion types who had "gone native." the meo of cambodia simply didn't care about anything but who was the highest current bidder.

i saw all types represented. just like us. toward the end of our involvment there were many more instances of whole units refusing to fight. they knew the south would fall, and would fall hard without constant american support. they not only didn't want to get themselves killed for no good reason, they were certainly not going to do anything to piss off the certain victors. what some americans took for cowardice or a lack of patriotism was most likely bog simple pragmatic thinking and action.

i'm seeing quite a bit of that from the iraqi units and police. it will only get worse as the day the americans leave draws closer. those who can steal enough to flee the country will be stealing with both hands. those left behind will have the two fold task of not getting themselves killed, and not pissing off the certain victors.

8:19 AM  

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