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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 4:59 pm 
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Anthropoid wrote:
Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist. His "communism" was simply a means to that end. All he ever wanted was Vietnam. Communism gave him that. I liken more to Tito than to Mao or Stalin.

The U.S. could also have given him Vietnam, but the idea of even negotiating with him or doing something that could "topple the dominoes" had become such anathema by the mid 1950s that the idea of trying to win him into a more neutral or 'non-aligned' if not Western aligned sphere was just unthinkable.

I'm speculating, but it is probably also no accident that Eisenhower probably felt obliged out of honor to help the French, and it was our backing of their collapsing colonial regime which got us into that shit in the first place.

Virtual +rep (a real one comes when possible) for you Sir.

As for your post, I agree 110%.

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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 7:19 pm 
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The Us was drawn into Viet Nam by the French govt as the price that the USA had to pay to get France to allow Marshall plan aid to transit france into W.Germany.

http://www.historytoday.com/sami-abouzahr/tangled-web-america-france-and-indochina-1947-50


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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 8:41 pm 
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mdiehl wrote:
The Us was drawn into Viet Nam by the French govt as the price that the USA had to pay to get France to allow Marshall plan aid to transit france into W.Germany.

http://www.historytoday.com/sami-abouzahr/tangled-web-america-france-and-indochina-1947-50


Interesting article, but I wonder why I can not find word "Mao" in it. I think that loss of China to communism influenced enormously to the US support to the lost cause of the French Indochina.

:roll:

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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 9:24 pm 
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Thankfully, the Commies lost the Cold War as a whole, even if they "won" one of the two most notable violent proxy wars of the era. However, with Putin, one has to wonder if the Cold War ever really ended after all?

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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 10:59 pm 
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Why would anyone think the communists lost? When one considers that the PRC has been so enormously successful despite their centrally planned economy, and the degree to which US manufacturing capacity has been replaced by PRC capacity, I suggest the commies won. There are more commies now than ever. Thanks to globalists, they have done more strategic damage to US industrial capability than could have been achieved by the USSR using hundreds of nuclear warheads.


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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Fri Mar 20, 2015 11:03 pm 
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@nero... you missed the point. Ho went to the commies because the USA supported France. If the USA had told France to suck eggs, as we should have, there would have been no communists anywhere in that which once was "French Indochina."


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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:04 am 
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"More commies now" needs a citation. I dispute such a claim. If anything, there are fewer commies than ever before, given that both Russia and China have transitioned to engage more with the global economy and sought to take on more free market trappings.

"Manufacturing capacity" LOL.

A stifled and exploited proletariat who produce cheap chachki for Western consumption isn't exactly going to save China from its broken, corrupt and oppressive political system.

The Coming Chinese Crackup

Quote:
The endgame of communist rule in China has begun, and Xi Jinping’s ruthless measures are only bringing the country closer to a breaking point


By
David Shambaugh
March 6, 2015 11:26 a.m. ET
494 COMMENTS

On Thursday, the National People’s Congress convened in Beijing in what has become a familiar annual ritual. Some 3,000 “elected” delegates from all over the country—ranging from colorfully clad ethnic minorities to urbane billionaires—will meet for a week to discuss the state of the nation and to engage in the pretense of political participation.

Some see this impressive gathering as a sign of the strength of the Chinese political system—but it masks serious weaknesses. Chinese politics has always had a theatrical veneer, with staged events like the congress intended to project the power and stability of the Chinese Communist Party, or CCP. Officials and citizens alike know that they are supposed to conform to these rituals, participating cheerfully and parroting back official slogans. This behavior is known in Chinese as biaotai, “declaring where one stands,” but it is little more than an act of symbolic compliance.

Despite appearances, China’s political system is badly broken, and nobody knows it better than the Communist Party itself. China’s strongman leader, Xi Jinping, is hoping that a crackdown on dissent and corruption will shore up the party’s rule. He is determined to avoid becoming the Mikhail Gorbachev of China, presiding over the party’s collapse. But instead of being the antithesis of Mr. Gorbachev, Mr. Xi may well wind up having the same effect. His despotism is severely stressing China’s system and society—and bringing it closer to a breaking point.

Predicting the demise of authoritarian regimes is a risky business. Few Western experts forecast the collapse of the Soviet Union before it occurred in 1991; the CIA missed it entirely. The downfall of Eastern Europe’s communist states two years earlier was similarly scorned as the wishful thinking of anticommunists—until it happened. The post-Soviet “color revolutions” in Georgia, Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan from 2003 to 2005, as well as the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings, all burst forth unanticipated . . .

The endgame of Chinese communist rule has now begun, I believe, and it has progressed further than many think. We don’t know what the pathway from now until the end will look like, of course. It will probably be highly unstable and unsettled. But until the system begins to unravel in some obvious way, those inside of it will play along—thus contributing to the facade of stability.

Communist rule in China is unlikely to end quietly. A single event is unlikely to trigger a peaceful implosion of the regime. Its demise is likely to be protracted, messy and violent. I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that Mr. Xi will be deposed in a power struggle or coup d’état. With his aggressive anticorruption campaign—a focus of this week’s National People’s Congress—he is overplaying a weak hand and deeply aggravating key party, state, military and commercial constituencies.

The Chinese have a proverb, waiying, neiruan—hard on the outside, soft on the inside. Mr. Xi is a genuinely tough ruler. He exudes conviction and personal confidence. But this hard personality belies a party and political system that is extremely fragile on the inside.

Consider five telling indications of the regime’s vulnerability and the party’s systemic weaknesses. . . .

First, China’s economic elites have one foot out the door, and they are ready to flee en masse if the system really begins to crumble. In 2014, Shanghai’s Hurun Research Institute, which studies China’s wealthy, found that 64% of the “high net worth individuals” whom it polled—393 millionaires and billionaires—were either emigrating or planning to do so. Rich Chinese are sending their children to study abroad in record numbers (in itself, an indictment of the quality of the Chinese higher-education system). . .

Second, since taking office in 2012, Mr. Xi has greatly intensified the political repression that has blanketed China since 2009. The targets include the press, social media, film, arts and literature, religious groups, the Internet, intellectuals, Tibetans and Uighurs, dissidents, lawyers, NGOs, university students and textbooks. The Central Committee sent a draconian order known as Document No. 9 down through the party hierarchy in 2013, ordering all units to ferret out any seeming endorsement of the West’s “universal values”—including constitutional democracy, civil society, a free press and neoliberal economics. . . .

Third, even many regime loyalists are just going through the motions. It is hard to miss the theater of false pretense that has permeated the Chinese body politic for the past few years. Last summer, I was one of a handful of foreigners (and the only American) who attended a conference about the “China Dream,” Mr. Xi’s signature concept, at a party-affiliated think tank in Beijing. We sat through two days of mind-numbing, nonstop presentations by two dozen party scholars—but their faces were frozen, their body language was wooden, and their boredom was palpable. . .

Fourth, the corruption that riddles the party-state and the military also pervades Chinese society as a whole. Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign is more sustained and severe than any previous one, but no campaign can eliminate the problem. It is stubbornly rooted in the single-party system, patron-client networks, an economy utterly lacking in transparency, a state-controlled media and the absence of the rule of law. . .

Finally, China’s economy—for all the Western views of it as an unstoppable juggernaut—is stuck in a series of systemic traps from which there is no easy exit. In November 2013, Mr. Xi presided over the party’s Third Plenum, which unveiled a huge package of proposed economic reforms, but so far, they are sputtering on the launchpad. Yes, consumer spending has been rising, red tape has been reduced, and some fiscal reforms have been introduced, but overall, Mr. Xi’s ambitious goals have been stillborn. The reform package challenges powerful, deeply entrenched interest groups—such as state-owned enterprises and local party cadres—and they are plainly blocking its implementation. . .


More at link.

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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:29 am 
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Quote:
Democratic Republic of Vietnam
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_killi ... of_Vietnam
Further information: North Vietnam

In the early 1950s, the Communist government in North Vietnam launched a land reform program, which, according to Steven Rosefielde, was "aimed at exterminating class enemies."[146] Victims were chosen in an arbitrary manner, following a quota of four to five percent.[147] Torture was used on a wide scale, so much so that by 1954 Ho Chi Minh became concerned, and had it banned.[147] It is estimated that some 50,000[147] to 172,000[146] people perished in the campaigns against wealthy farmers and landowners. Rosefielde discusses much higher estimates that range from 200,000 to 900,000, which includes summary executions of National People's Party members.[146]
Ho Chi Minh was just a frustrated nationalist, it's all the US's fault for not backing him.

Same must be true for all the others on the page.

Evil USA, bad boy.

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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 9:18 am 
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A bit more about poor mistreated Ho Chi Minh:
Quote:
50 Years On, Vietnamese Remember Land Reform Terror
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam ... 60608.html
landreform200.jpg
Spring, 1956: Three Vietnamese Communist Party members watch (background) as an accuser confronts a land owner in Hanoi. Photo: RFA

BANGKOK—Vietnam this year marks the 50th anniversary of a little-known political campaign known by the innocuous-sounding name of “land reform,” in which hundreds of thousands of people accused of being landlords were summarily executed or tortured and starved in prison.

The land reform was a massacre of innocent, honest people, and using contemporary terms we must say that it was a genocide triggered by class discrimination.

More than 172,000 people died during the North Vietnam campaign after being classified as landowners and wealthy farmers, official records of the time show.

Former Hanoi government official Nguyen Minh Can, who was part of the campaign to change direction following the terror, said it amounted to “genocide.”

“The land reform was a massacre of innocent, honest people, and using contemporary terms we must say that it was a genocide triggered by class discrimination,” he told RFA’s Vietnamese service.
Hundreds of thousands died

“Suddenly they implemented a land reform by sending groups of officials to the countryside, and giving them the freedom to classify and accuse people as landowners at will. An additional number of 172,000 people became victims,” he said.

“I am talking about the number of wrongly tried victims that were seriously depressed and furious to the extent that they had to commit suicide. This number was in fact not small. In my opinion this consequence was very serious. It has given a terrible fright to the people,” Can added.

But official figures leave out summary executions of those accused of membership of the National People’s Party, however. Unofficial estimates of those killed by Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam Labor Party, which later become the Vietnamese Communist Party, range from 200,000 to 900,000.

NguyenMinhCan200.jpg
Former Communist Party official Nguyen Minh Can. Photo: RFA

In the political rhetoric of the time, the victims were “dug to the core and destroyed to the root,” as enemies of the people. Some were committed communists, who cried out “Long Live the Communist Party” before being killed.

Writer Tran Manh Hao witnessed the land reforms, which prompted the evacuation of most of his family to South Vietnam.

“I saw the extreme horror, and I wondered what kind of regime this was, that had no other method than to repress and annihilate people,” he said. “It took them to 'people’s courts' and shot them on the scene without a fair trial and even without any evidence.”
Some say 'genocide'

“The land reform campaign was a crime of genocide like that of Pol Pot,” Hao said.

And another writer, Duong Thu Huong, recalls seeing bodies as a child of eight when he went out to water vegetables.

“Right in front of my house was a hanged man in the year of the land reform. When I was eight years old, I had to accompany the students to public locations where landowners were dishonored and tortured,” he said.

“In the back of my house lay another dead man who had been wrongly classified as a landowner. He cut his own throat by laying it on the railway track. At my age of eight when I went to water the vegetables, I witnessed such tragic deaths with my own eyes. They greatly horrified and scared me,” he said.

Tran Kim Anh’s father, uncle, and grandfather were all staunch supporters of the revolution in the northern province of Thai Binh. They belonged to the National People’s Party, which became a designated enemy organization during the land reform period.

“My father was determined to deny his being a member of the National People’s Party. He was then tortured by having his two toes tied by two ropes that hung him to the ceiling. The ropes were pulled up. This hurt him badly, so he cried hard and asked them to pull down the ropes. Down he was pulled. However, he still cried wildly due to his great pain. They then stuffed cloth into his mouth,” Anh said. (Continued)

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 Post subject: Re: How I began to teach about the Vietnam War
PostPosted: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:02 pm 
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Tchotchke is apparently the correct spelling for Chachki.
abradley wrote:
Quote:
Democratic Republic of Vietnam
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mass_killi ... of_Vietnam
Further information: North Vietnam

In the early 1950s, the Communist government in North Vietnam launched a land reform program, which, according to Steven Rosefielde, was "aimed at exterminating class enemies."[146] Victims were chosen in an arbitrary manner, following a quota of four to five percent.[147] Torture was used on a wide scale, so much so that by 1954 Ho Chi Minh became concerned, and had it banned.[147] It is estimated that some 50,000[147] to 172,000[146] people perished in the campaigns against wealthy farmers and landowners. Rosefielde discusses much higher estimates that range from 200,000 to 900,000, which includes summary executions of National People's Party members.[146]
Ho Chi Minh was just a frustrated nationalist, it's all the US's fault for not backing him.

Same must be true for all the others on the page.

Evil USA, bad boy.


I certainly have no intent to imply that the U.S. was evil or even malicious in the evolution of its policies in the region. Whats more, IMO, the "alternative best option" idea of support Ho was not, in the actual time frame under consideration realistic at all. The era when U.S. attitude toward Ho was transitioning from "freedom fighter who harassed the Japanese" to "Communist traitor" was also the McCarthy era.

So I think on the one hand, there is some logic in positing the unrealistic idea that "backing Ho" would have been the better option. It would have kept us out of a war in Vietnam, and irrespective of how wicked Ho was, we have certainly backed plenty of other wicked leaders, including the string of failed leaders in South Vietnam in the 1950s and 1960s.

Another "what could we have done differently" model would say that, the real error was not in avoiding a fight over South Vietnam by co-opting Ho into our side (a prospect which, as many of you have pointed out, might be utterly fanciful and might have proven to be impossible, none of us can say for certain, but it certainly is a legitimate point) would be: don't fuck up Rolling Thunder by micro-managing it, and instead let the Military escalate it as rapidly and intentionally as they could. If we blockaded Haiphong and virtually every port along that coast, if we bombed literally every rail line and road near the Chinese border, if not a single warehouse or manufacturing facility were left intact and not a single railyard left standing anywhere within 200 miles of Hanoi (goals which were probably beyond the capacity of the air assets in country in 1965, but with the will and directive considerable progress could have been made) . . . it is possible this could have resulted in something like a 'withering' of the NVA and their NLF operatives in the south, or it might have led to massive Chinese intervention ala Korea in Autumn 1950 . . . nobody knows for sure, but the latter fear (or worse, WWIII with the Soviet Union) was apparently the exact reason that LBJ made Rolling Thunder into such an impotent joke by insisting on personally approving virtually every single target for the op.

For me, I suffer no smug and self-righteous illusion that "my make-believe solution" is "the correct one" as I reckon Diehl, Nero and Knucks do. I am simply saying that, in the context of a thread that is intended not simply to recount the history, but to attempt to learn from that history and draw general principles about "what ifs" and apply those to our current situation, the idea that the whole think might have been averted by a veritable 180-degree spin on U.S. alignment in the region might have been worthwhile.

Backing Ho would have pissed off a lot of South Vietnamese and alienated major sections of the populace. But end of the day, those same sections were abandoned to the mercies of Ho's brutal police and terror squads anyway. Backing Ho would not have been necessarily "selling" out to the Commies, nor an unthinkable breach of our national ethics and policies. We've allied with, backed, supported and paid plenty of Commies, dictators, brutal despots, and revolutionaries of questionable ilk over the decades whenever it appeared that it was the least bad option from among a range of bad options or when it seemed at the time to serve our interests.

I do think there is one absolutely unquestionable take home message from Vietnam, as well as the Gulf War, the NATO War in Afghanistan and the Coalition war against Iraq, it is a message that Sun Tzu put to pen and paper millenia ago and it is no less true today. Perhaps it is really a constellation of separate points but in essence I would say the lesson is: "do not go to war until you are fully prepared to prosecute that war with full focus and intensity and with as close to your full capacity as you are able. Moreover, once you are in war, the overarching imperative, which predominates over virtually all other considerations, must be to achieve in as short at time frame as possible with as little harm to oneself or one's allies, final and conclusive victory.

This was how the Gulf War I was fought and it is the textbook example of how to fight and win wars. The buildup was sufficiently protracted to allow the full force of U.S. military might to collect like a might spring, the diplomatic rituals were followed right up to the final moment, and when it was clear that it was necessary and all was in place, the war machine was unleashed. The effect was quite possibly the greatest devastation in the least period of time ever (short of use of atomic weapons). Some one hundred thousand Iraqi casualties is the estimate (20 to 30K killed, and 70 to 80K wounded if memory serves) and the harm done to U.S. forces is almost so trivial as to be unbelievable. What was it 150 killed? 500 wounded?

Quote:
Coalition:
147 killed by enemy action, 145 non-hostile deaths
467 wounded in action
Total: 292 killed
776 wounded[7]
Kuwait:
200 killed[8]


End result: total victory achieved from a war that lasted less than a year, caused very little diplomatic blowback, and put Saddam Hussein's regime on a back burner of sorts for another 10 years. This was 'easy' to achieve since there was such a clear diplomatic cassus belli and such a clearly defined threshold for victory, i.e., liberation of Kuwait and elmination of Iraqi threat against Kuwait.

One might say that, to apply the standards of nearly-perfectly executed war to a context like Vietnam in the late 1950s is 'unfair' because it was a so much more complicated and murky situation. There were not such clear cassus belli, and thresholds of victory were never very well defined much less realistic. In any event, we have hopefully learned to both avoid those sorts of murky situations and perhaps more important to avoid slow buildups or overestimating what can be achieved with small piecemeal deployments and gradual escalation of force.

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