Monday, November 18, 2013

Two Sides to Every Story: Perspectives on the Vietnam War and the Iraq War

The famous photograph of Nguyen Ngoc Loan shooting Viet Cong commander. The full story behind this image is rarely told.

Kim Phuc, "The Girl in the Picture", was paraded by the communists as a propaganda tool, until she escaped to Canada.

This is the edited text of a talk given by Quynh Dao on the 26th of May 2004. Quynh fled from Vietnam after the Vietnam War, having experienced the conflict and the ensuing communist regime. 

She is now involved in human rights organisations in Australia. This talk was presented by Perspectives on World History and Current Events, in conjunction with the Australia-Vietnam Human Rights Committee and the Vietnamese Professionals Society (Victorian Chapter)

Introduction Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my honour to be here with Perspectives on World History and Current Events. Many prominent speakers were invited to your previous functions and so I do have reservations as to whether I'm up to the task. However I will try my best.

I share with Perspectives on World History and Current Events the worthy aspiration to aim for unique perspectives in world events, to go behind the news, to not take what is on offer by the media as gospel. I came to that point of view from my own dissatisfaction, to put it mildly, of the way the Vietnam War was and still is wrongly projected and understood by some influential people in the Western media. I'm here to share with you the other side of the story and an updated account about Vietnam, the Vietnam that I know. Many public figures have drawn analogies between the Vietnam War and the current Iraq situation. Before making comparison, before drawing lessons about the Vietnam War in any meaningful way, I think it is important to understand the Vietnam War from a factual and up to date perspective.
Vietnam War & Australia The Opposition leader Mr Mark Latham recently referred to Vietnam when articulating his Iraq policy.1 He said we got into the Vietnam War to prevent communism spreading, but it turned out to be a civil war involving nationalists who wanted unification. He echoed Jim Cairns, the Labor leader of the anti-Vietnam War Moratorium movement during the '60s. The whole of the anti-Vietnam War movement sprang from the belief that the Vietnam War was essentially a national revolutionary movement against the South Vietnamese regime, perceived by them as unpopular, not one fomented or directed by the communist North which, in turn, was being instructed by communist China.2 1 ABC Radio, 8 April 2004.
2 Paul Strangio, Keeper of the Faith, Melbourne University Press, 2002, p141.

Well, the anti-war protesters got their facts wrong. Mr Jim Cairns was wrong then. Mr Latham is wrong now.
The Truth About the Vietnam War The Vietnam War was about preventing communism from spreading. The Vietnam War was fomented by the communist North. The communist North was instructed and abetted by communist China and supported by the rest of the communist bloc.

This is not just me saying this. This is what the Communist Party of Vietnam's website says.

What does it say? Allow me to quote from the Communist Party of Vietnam's official biography on Ho Chi Minh:

"Ho Chi Minh . . . felt the need for active propaganda and organizational work in order to step up the revolutionary movement in colonial countries, including Vietnam. He deemed it his task to spread communist doctrine in Asia in general and in Indochina particularly.3
[Emphasis added.]
3 Communist Party of Vietnam's website, English version
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