40 years ago today, after what was then the longest war in American history, the United States finally withdrew its armed forces from South Vietnam, after the Paris Peace Accords signed in January of 1973.
58,000 Americans had been killed in a war propping up a corrupt regime under different Vietnamese generals, a war that could have been ended in the first year of the Richard Nixon Presidency, but he was not going to be the President under whom we lost a war.
Instead, sadly, it was lost two years later, during the administration of Gerald Ford, when North Vietnam broke the agreement, and attacked and took over South Vietnam at the end of April 1975, unifying the nation under the Communist government that would now be known as the “People’s Republic” of Vietnam, with Saigon, the old South Vietnamese capital, being renamed Ho Chi Minh City.
America would normalize relations with Vietnam in 1995, and we have trade and normal diplomatic relations with our former adversary now, but the memory of the loss of those 58,000 still haunts survivors of that conflict, and the families who still mourn their sacrifice, and the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, is our monument of respect to their commitment to our nation!
Excellent post Professor.
Vietnam was a battle in the Cold War â€” which wasn’t all cold by any means.
The United States fought two major proxy wars against the Soviet Empire and its allies, like Mao Tse Tung’s China. One war was fought in Korea, and cost 34,000 American lives. The other was Vietnam, and cost 58,000 American lives. Thousands and thousands of Koreans and Vietnamese died along with us, fighting as allies and friends. Suppose we had not fought in Korea and Vietnam. The “Cold” War would have been lost. What would have happened? When America became involved in Vietnam, the Soviets and Chinese Communists were a single block, although tensions between China and the Soviet Union were rising. Eastern Europe was one great concentration camp. Soviet imperialism was on the march in Asia, Africa, South America, and Western Europe. Korea and Vietnam were bloody holding actions that allowed democracies to grow strong enough to outlast the enemy.
Consider just how many people were killed domestically by the Soviet Empire and its allies over seventy years â€”not in wars, but in tyrannical campaigns to control their own peoples. According to an authoritative team of French historians, Marxist regimes exterminated 100 million human beings in the 20th century. That is not even counting wars fought by those regimes against other countries.
Just a reminder: Even in the last few years probably more than a million North Koreans have died from starvation and persecution, all because of their fat and paranoid Marxist dictator Kim Jong Il’s economic blunders and refusal to open his country sifficiently to international aid. Communist Vietnam has killed tens of thousands of its people in “reâ€”education camps” since the Vietnam War.
We forget the relentless killing machines of Marxist tyrannies, their determination to wipe out entire classes of human beings, small capitalists, rich peasants, farmers who refused to be corralled into communes, dissidents. In Cambodia, Pol Pot killed people simply for wearing glasses; they might have been dissidents. We must not forget the biggest threat of the 20th century.
In the fantasy world of the American Left, Vietnam was not worth fighting because the Cold War was only a fiction whipped up by the militaryâ€” industrial complex. If only those 100 million dead souls could answer that lie. The American victory in the Cold War was dearly bought, but if the Soviet Union had not been stopped, its victims might now number â€”â€” how many? 200 million? 300 million? An endless number, as the Soviet Empire went from victory to victory?
In truth, we should have parades celebrating the sacrifice of Americans and our Vietnamese allies in the Vietnam War. It was an agonizing battle. But it was thrust upon us, and there was no other way. We should not let the Left get away with lying about it.
To really understand the last hundred years, we need to remember only two
numbers: six million and 100 million. Six million Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Christians and handicapped people were deliberately exterminated by the Right Fascist ideology of the Nazis.
But Hitler had only thirteen years in power. Over a period of seventy years, Left Fascism was able to destroy 100 million human beings.
Left or Right, Fascism is Fascism. Tyranny is Tyranny.
The next time you see a Vietnam vet, thank him or her from the bottom of your heart for winning the longest war of the 20th century.
I will concede, Juan, much of what you say, but I do not call the Soviet Union “Fascist”! However, I totally agree that both forms of totalitarianism, left and right, are despicable to the core, and that Communism certainly caused more deaths over a much longer period of time than did Fascism. That is why I do not oppose all US involvement overseas, but feel we have made wrong choices as to which battles we engage in, and the war industries make obscene profits on our loss of blood, which sickens me! I have always said in class that VIetnam veterans deserve respect and thanks for their sacrifices, as I am a strong supporter of our veterans in all wars. And it was closer to 13 million victims of the Holocaust, with six million being Jewish, but seven million others, as you outlined above! Thanks for your thoughts! 🙂
I have a question regarding the Paris Peace Accords signed in January of 1973. Wasn’t the following true about the Accords?
– The bombing Hanoi and Hai Phong brought the communist to the negotiating table thus signing the Accords with the guarantee that they would surrender.
– The Accords were a guarantee that North and South Vietnam would be reunited and have free and fair elections;
– That they would have the freedoms Americans enjoyed. In the Paris Accords what the Nixon Administration did was plagiarized our First Amendment and added every blessed freedom that you could think of including freedom of residence, private property, private enterprise, about a dozen freedoms;
– The Nixon Administration and the Vietcong knew (as evidence in their subsequent memoirs) that we had won the war;
– America wasnâ€™t naÃ¯ve and knew that North Vietnam might try to renege on the Paris Peace Accords so they added a clause that if South Vietnam lost anything in the war America would replace it and we assumed the Soviets would do the same for North Vietnam; we would replace every bullet, tank and plane so if there was any aggression from North Vietnam, South Vietnam would remain in the same position strategically.
In other words had we not achieved that everything that Presidentâ€™s Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon had pursued in the Peace Accords? If we did , then it is evident that we had won what we wanted. Is it not true that at that time the treaty was written as a â€œcease fireâ€ but that of all the stipulations in the treaty amounted to a communist surrender and defeat which the North Vietnamese [Vietcong] willingly signed with America and the South Vietnamese?
Were not the only ones to celebrate the Treaty were the White House and the Department of Defense calling Jan. 23, 1973 â€œVV-Dayâ€? Why was the Democrat controlled Congress not happy? Why did the 94th Democrat controlled Congress do the following? Not abide by the Paris Peace Accords and not resupply the South Vietnamese if they lose anything?
After the fall of Saigon, Laos and Cambodia, Senator Fulbright, D-AK, who was also the chair of the Foreign Relations Committee summed up the sentiment of the 94th Congress,â€œI am no more distressed than if Arkansas had lost the football game to Texas.â€
That started the Southeast Asian genocide. About one quarter of the Cambodian population, dead; about a million boat people from South Vietnam who had no other way to get out of the place. 500,000 of them are still under the South China Sea. Should not members who were a part of that Congress apologize, that they were wrong? Were they , the Democrats who refused to help South Vietnam by abandoning our ally and breaking our commitment in the Peace Accords, just as responsible for this genocide as the communist were?
The agreement said the two Vietnams would NOT be united, but remain separate. What happened later in 1975 was indeed tragic, but the American people did not want to re-engage in Vietnam. It is a very tragic moment, no question!
What I remember well from this time, I was stationed in San Diego when Viet Nam fell. I was then instantly sent to South America to make sure communism did not get a foot hold in the Southern Hemisphere of the Americas.
Now Nike wasted no time in signing an agreement with Viet Nam to employ child labor to make their shoes for a few dollars but sold them in this country for $100â€™s a pair.
Yea for â€œPredatory Capitalismâ€ in defeating in a couple of years the Communism that took over that country.
Meanwhile my friends were still dead.