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Vietnam War 40 Years Later: Capitalism Trumps Ideology


Vietnam War 40 Years Later: Capitalism Trumps Ideology

Andrew Lam

Forty years have passed since the Vietnam War ended, and a parade was staged in Ho Chi Minh City, formally Saigon, to commemorate that date. Yet despite the fanfare debates rage on both sides of the Pacific as to who really won and who lost that war. While the hammer and sickle and Uncle Ho’s image may still adorn T-shirts it sells to foreign tourists, Vietnam’s heart throbs for all things American, especially Apple. In 2014, in fact, Vietnam became its hottest market.


“How important is this breakthrough? Very. Less than a decade ago, Hanoi had considered China as its strategic ally, but not anymore. Vietnam is asking to buy more weapons from the U.S. so it can defend itself from China. Clinton, who’s running for president in 2016, considers the Pacific region the top priority.”

The old warriors look to be running the Domino Theory in reverse!

As to this, such an energy strategy will sink the planet via catastrophic climate change cum chaos:

“China has reasons to be nervous. It now claims 90 percent of the South China Sea, all the way to Borneo, amid international protests. This vast stretch of water provides shipping lanes for more than half of world trade. And for the U.S. alone in 2012, an estimated $1.2 trillion worth of goods transited through it. Under that sea, too, lie untold oil pockets and natural gas, the stuff that could make or break an empire for the next 100 years. But by claiming control over this international body of water, Beijing is spurring a warming of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.”


The report is misleading in a number of ways. For example, it talks about the US being Vietnam’s leading trading nation only on the basis of Vietnamese exports. Vietnam’s top five imports, however, are all from Asian nations, with China leading the pack. It gives the feeling that Vietnam is becoming an American ally, ignoring that country’s rejection of the American request that Vietnam disallow the refueling of Russian warplanes (see also Commondreams article below, noting that “to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of what the Vietnamese call the War of American Aggression, Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung sharply denounced the “barbarous crimes” committed by the United States”).

It further describes Vietnamese students studying in the US, but not how Vietnam also has an ongoing joint cultural/educational program involving tens of thousands of Vietnamese/Chinese youths. In fact, one recent trend in Vietnam is the return to reading Chinese literary works (often sold out as fast as they were printed), in addition to young Vietnamese’s fascination with Chinese films and other forms of entertainment.

The proliferation of MacDonald’s, Coca Cola, and other icons of American capitalism has little to do with politics, else almost the whole of Asia, and the rest of the world, are potential American allies. The Vietnamese would buy arms from anyone if it could - the Russians remain its closest military collaborator - in order to strengthen itself, but it remains and retains its independent stature. Just as China, which has more students in the US than another other country and holds more US dollars than any other country, is adamant in going its own way. In short, the article conflates Vietnam’s limited military cooperation and consumerism as well as other capitalist tendencies with ideological concord and, even more mistakenly, political rapport with the US.


Oh well, just like everywhere else it wasn’t guns and bombs that obliterated the communist monster. Hindsight being 20/20 the free world could have left communism burn itself out.


China has always, despite moments of strategic value, been Vietnam’s number 1 enemy and worst nightmare since at least 939AD. Since 939AD, Chinese invaders have been kicked out of Vietnam on a regular basis up to and including 1978.Had the idiots who for the last 70 years have run the USA’s foreign policy realised this in 1945, they could have had a useful friendship with Vietnam. However, arrogance and stupidity won the day and the USA wasted $26 billion of 1950s-1960s money and 3 million Vietnamese lives, plus those still dying from Agent Orange.

As for capitalism trumping ideology; the Vietnamese have always been capitalists . The ideology was a blip that lasted from the 1930s to around the early 1980s, firstly to provide a unifying national thought to enable the country to kick out the French, and secondly to serve the political interests of the communist political ruling class once the French had been defeated. Not that the corrupt Diem family who ran southern Vietnam after 1956 were any better.


In the opening chapters of Neil Sheehan’s excellent “A Bright Shining Lie” a brief history of Vietnam was offered. For about 2000 years Vietnam existed as a loose feudal society of peasant farmers, that structure being most important to organize defense against invaders from the north - from the Chinese mainland.

Sheehan also suggested that Ho, who’s entreaties to Roosevelt, Truman, and Eisenhower fell on deaf ears, would have been equally comfortable in the western capitalist camp, before turning to the socialist bloc for support. What they wanted was freedom from colonial rule, not to become a socialist beacon. Approximately 65,000 Americans and 3 million Vietnamese died as a result of that bright shining lie. As of 2006 it is estimated that another 4 million have been sickened by the legacy of the US defoliation campaign. I have always wondered that there were not Vietnamese 'terrorists" exacting revenge for all of this. Maybe it is because of a long cultural history that (their) life was comprised of invasion and defensive struggle, conflict, strength, and perseverance.


Ho Chi Minh, formerly known as Nguyen Ai Quoc, when living in Paris in 1919 during the Versailles Treaty negotiations tried to get Woodrow Wilson to help Vietnam attain independence from the French. However, WW was more interested in the dismemberment of the British Empire to the benefit of the USA and NAQ was ignored, so he eventually toddled off to Moscow to see if Uncle Joe Stalin was interested in helping, which of course he was, hence Nguyen Ai Quoc eventually became the communist Ho Chi Minh.As you note, the second opportunity was thrown away in 1945.


Not content to have lost the Vietnam War, the Clinton-Obama-Clinton dogma walkers seem determined to get back into it, this time with China more overtly the real target of US aggression.


So the US can lose that war again.

We haven’t been in a war since WWII to achieve anything remotely akin to traditional victory. Rather, the “win” has consistently been simply getting into a war. Any war will do. Winning is selling arms, killing people, giving politicians plenty of crap to peddle while they hide their Wall Street Banking Casino-Funding Racket behind obsolete rhetoric about patriotism, honor, etc.

For what it is worth, someone might want to point out to the author that this title is a silly oxymoron: “Capitalism Trumps Ideology.” “Capitalism” is unavoidably an ideology. It matters little that hundreds of millions believe an ideology as if it were a religion or a healthy spiritual tradition. To suppose it has trumped ‘ideology’ is to suppose what is meaningless. Of course, that is done all the time by those who care little for how meaning is created and/or destroyed. And that doesn’t make it meaningful, except rarely - by accident.