A rewrite of history
Lyndsay Murdock needs some history lessons. Talking about Julia Gillard’s gaffe about General Vo Nguyen Giap’s death he finds the General alive in Hanoi. Giap could be forgiven for commenting that “the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated” (refer: Mark Twain) Lyndsay goes on to comment;
Two decades later his poorly equipped North Vietnamese army and Vietcong guerillas defeated the US and its allies, forcing them out of the former South Vietnam.Look up Paris Peace Accords Lyndsay. In 1973, a couple of decades later, all players decided to call it quits and go home and North Vietnam promised they would not initiate military movement across the DMZ and that there would be no use of force to reunify the country. This is communist talk for “We need to rearm” They had been defeated in battle in Vietnam thus forcing them to the Peace table in the first place and they needed this time to rebuild. Two years later, in 1975, Lyndsay’s “poorly equipped North Vietnamese army” now richly equipped with new tanks, artillery, new AK47s, RPD MGs and AA batteries by the USSR and China invaded South Vietnam and defeated them. They attacked in WW2-like waves and the US, with Gerald Ford in the White House trying to send aid to South Vietnam, being thwarted by a Democrat majority in both houses, watched as South Vietnam folded and the night of the long knives began. Get it right or get out Lyndsay!
It was the people at home who lost the war, who lost the will to win, who lost the desire to support the troops.
The soldiers did all that was asked of them, and more. They never lost a battle. They keep fighting when those at home were taking collections up for the other side, thanks very much Monash University.
And the peace agreement! The North only came to the table because the yanks started bombing in the North, something they should have done years ago. How in the hell can you have a peace agreement and allow the enemy to stay where they are in South Vietnam?
We all knew how it was going to end.
Australians and Americans did not care about the South Vietnamese and they left them to their fate.
Absolutely. The war was fought in the media, and what happened on the battlefield became secondary. Most historians agree that Tet in 68 was the turning point, despite the NLF’s military defeat, mainly as a consequence of media coverage.
The American public lost its stomach for the war, and the withdrawal began. The fact that government policy (especially in this country) lagged behind public opinion was ultimately responsible for letting those of us down who were personally involved, whether Nashos or Regs.
Many of the same people who supported the initial commitment of 1RAR in 1965 had begun to oppose our involvement by 1969, and 1970 saw the Moratoriums with more people on the streets across Australia than at any other time before or since. This war was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent in Australia since the conscription referenda of the First World War.
Many Australians were unable to separate the valour of our soldiers from the politics of the war. In the end many blamed the soldiers for the war. Which ever way you slice it, the diggers were on a hiding to nothing.
As a footnote – we were winning when we left. When your mob took over Phuoc Tuy from our mob it was more secure than it had been since the days of the Viet Minh.
The picture you linked to of General Giap is a pretty good metaphor for what is left of the Marxist zeal espoused by him and his compatriots back in the 70s. If it isn’t moribund in 2011, it’s pretty close. The fact that the ideology espoused by the NLF was Communism was always more important to the West during the cold war than it ever was to the Vietnamese.
The best evidence of this is seen by events since. Doi Moi encourages free market enterprise and has effectively abandoned collectivization. Vietnam is a one-party state, but it is not a Marxist state. The Marxist principles that we fought against have been effectively tossed away by a generation of Vietnamese who have no consciousness of the war. The NLF was indeed defeated in battle, but this was a trans generational war, not a battle, and was about more than short term military supremacy. They’d been fighting since 1947 – first the French, then the Americans.
The old guard has been replaced by a new generation with a very different world view.
In Vietnam today the most tangible remains of the war are the memorials. A good example is Thánh Tử Đạo Đền tưởng niệm (Martyrs Memorial Temple) at Vung Tau. With the notable exception of the AWM, most Australian war memorials have hundreds of names inscribed. In Vietnam, the numbers on each memorial are in the tens of thousands.