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Hoi B. Tran is the author of A Vietnamese Fighter Pilot in an American War
In mid-September 2017, I was extremely excited to watch the new Vietnam War documentary directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick about which my son informed me the previous week. Sadly, after watching only the first episode, I already had a really bad impression.
But I realized it would be unfair if I rated the entire ten episodes based only the first one. So I tried hard to overcome my disappointment and to stay patient to watch the remaining 9 episodes in order to have a full understanding of this Vietnam War film before expressing my feeling/opinion of its contents.
After having watched all ten episodes, I feel comfortable now to make some honest comments. And I will be happy and am ready to discuss this with anyone, Vietnamese or American, who wants to refute the facts cited in my comments below including Ken Burns or Lynn Novick.
It is no secret that the Vietnam War was the most controversial and misunderstood war that the U.S was involved in. It was a war that deeply and bitterly divided the America. It was also a war for which U.S veterans were denigrated and mistreated when returning home from Vietnam after their tour of duty.
I remember that the late U.S President Richard M. Nixon said in his book No More Vietnams, “No event in American history is more misunderstood than the Vietnam War. It was misreported then, and it is mis-remembered now. Rarely have so many people been so wrong about so much. Never have the consequences of their misunderstanding been so tragic.”
I fought in both Vietnam wars, from the Dien Bien Phu battle in the North to the long war in the South in various capacities. Now as a living Vietnamese witness, I feel compelled to refute the shameless lie by this Vietnam War series which praised and glorified Ho Chi Minh as a dedicated nationalist patriot.
Additionally, Iwant to erase the unjust stains smeared upon the U.S military annals by the bold-faced Vietnamese communist propaganda machine in North Vietnam stupidly backed by the ignorant, left leaning news media and film makers in the U.S.
Troops Won the War, Politicians Lost It
Now, as a veteran of the former RVN who partook in the war, I want to say it clear to all my Vietnamese and American brothers-in-arms that the U.S were never defeated militarily by the ragtag army of the North Vietnamese Communists. Through political negotiation in Paris our politicians settled with major world powers and the parties involved to end the war in Vietnam politically.
The last U.S. military unit left Vietnam in March 1973. The final collapse of the RVN occurred on April 30, 1975. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the U.S. did not lose the war in Vietnam militarily. You have fulfilled the call of duty admirably and you have fought gallantly. We salute you. We thank you for your service and for helping us in Vietnam.
Ironically, politics dictated the outcome. Only ignorant or misled individuals would buy into the notion that America lost the war in Vietnam militarily. I clearly remember President Richard M. Nixon had said in his Nov. 3, 1969 speech about the Vietnamization of the war: “Let us be united for peace. Let us also be united against defeat. Because let us understand: North Vietnam cannot defeat or humiliate the United States. Only Americans can do that.” I cannot agree more with the late President.
It is outrageous to see some unconscionable people who reaped benefits and opportunities America afforded them to become rich and famous, yet for one reason or another they turned anti-American. To these sick people, everything America does is wrong and the enemy is always right.
The Documentary Sullied the United States and the Republic of Vietnam (RVN)
During the war to conquer the RVN, Ho Chi Minh and the apparatchiks in North Vietnam employed this motto incessantly on their propaganda machine to push people to go to war: “Fighting the Americans to save our country” and “Liberate our people in the South from the neo-colonial rule of the American Imperialist.” They smeared the RVN government and its Armed Forces as puppets or servants of the “American Imperialists.” They always portrayed the RVN government as a despotic and corrupt regime and the U.S as imperialist. In summary, the North Vietnamese communist leadership had endlessly tried their utmost best to vituperate, sully the U.S, the RVN and people in the South.
Fortunately, history has eyes and time has certain way to bring truth to the surface. Although the long overdue truth could not heal the profound psychological and physical wound the RVN and her ally, the U.S. had to suffer. But the truth did prove that the RVN and the U.S were not as bad as propagated by the communist and distorted by the liberal U.S. news media and film makers.
Yankee Come Back!
Only a few years in the post-war era, the world had a better understanding and a clearer judgment about the ability to govern, the morality and virtue of the North Vietnamese communists after they dropped their mask and exposed their true evil color. After the end of the war they could not survive with their communist doctrine and their dying economy and they shamelessly begged the “American Imperialists” for help.
At the present time in shopping malls, travel agencies, restaurants and hotels in Vietnam most advertising signs are written in English, not in Chinese or Russian.
In Vietnam, girls and boys everywhere, from the metropolitan area to the rural countryside, are mixing in their day to day conversation with the words OK and Bye-Bye to be in vogue. They also celebrate Valentine Day and sing Happy Birthday in English to be fashionable.
Ho Chi Minh was Not a Vietnamese Nationalist Patriot
On March 9th, 1945 Japanese Imperial forces in North Vietnam staged a coup d’état and ousted the French Colonists, not Ho Chi Minh. The following day a Japanese envoy met Emperor Bao Dai and granted Vietnam her independence within Japan’s Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere. Following this joyful event, Emperor Bao Dai appointed Prof. Tran Trong Kim to form a legitimate government.
While the Vietnamese were enjoying their independence, the U.S. dropped two atom bombs on Hiroshima & Nagasaki in early August 1945, forcing Japan to surrender to the Allied forces unconditionally on Aug. 14, 1945. The capitulation of Japan created political chaos in North Vietnam.
Ho Chi Minh promptly exploited the chaotic situation and used his armed propaganda units embedded in Hanoi to seize power. On Aug 28, 1945, he formally declared the country to be the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (DRV), an independent nation & proclaimed himself President and Minister of Foreign Affairs concurrently. The following week, he had his cadres convene a meeting at the Ba Dinh Square to introduce his government and cited the Declaration of Independence.
During this time I was a naïve 10 year-old Vanguard Youth Troop in Hanoi, North Vietnam. Along with my group I was very happy singing patriotic songs as indoctrinated by communist cadres to praise Ho Chi Minh in many events.
After becoming President of the DRV, Ho showed his true colors as a vicious communist and a boldfaced traitor. Ho overzealously followed Maoist’s doctrine and launched the inhumane Land Reform Campaign that slaughtered at least from 60,000 to 150,000 landowners whom they labeled as evil landlords and about 50,000 to 100,000 were imprisoned. With his death squads, Ho liquidated all political opponents if these people were nationalists or non-communist patriots.
The above facts shows that Ho Chi Minh and his ragtag militia forces, the Viet Minh, and his so-called armed propaganda units in North Vietnam contributed absolutely nothing in expelling of the French forces from Vietnam and to end French colonial rule in 1945.
Ho Chi Minh was a Traitor and a Treacherous Egomaniac
A few months after extorting power from the Tran Trong Kim government, Ho showed his traitorous, egoistic character. On March 6, 1946, Ho compromised and signed an agreement allowing French forces to return to Vietnam for five years and, in return France would recognize his government.
Through this wily move, nationalist Vietnamese people considered Ho a traitor to the cause of revolution. If Ho Chi Minh did not sign that agreement, of course, French forces were not allowed to return to North Vietnam. If French forces were not in Vietnam, there would have been no Dien Bien Phu battle in 1954 and Vietnam not divided at the 17thparallel after Ho’s forces, the Viet Minh, defeated the French forces.
The fall of the Dien Bien Phu garrison was because Gen. Henri Navarre, Commander in Chief of the French Expeditionary Forces in the Indochinese Theater, was not aware that the ragtag Viet Minh forces received two hundred heavy artillery pieces and the deadly Soviet built rocket launchers “Stalin Organs,” military advisers, technicians, gunners and troops from Communist China.
The reason Ho Chi Minh received substantial military supplies and manpower from the PRC was because Ho kowtowed to Mao Zedong since Mao won the war and established the PRC in mainland China in October of 1949.
Ho Chi Minh wasted no time and immediately sent his representatives to China asking for support and assistance. By January 1950, the PRC and Russia recognized Ho’s government and the PRC began to help Ho with military advisers, weapons and troops to ensure their communist satellite in Vietnam would survive.
The bottom line is this: If Ho Chi Minh had been a true nationalist patriot, he should have been content with the independence Vietnam inherited bloodlessly at the departure of the Japanese after they were defeated by the U.S. Ho must have known that he was very lucky to be at the right place at the right time to, all of a sudden, become president of the DRV. Under the circumstances, he should have lived peacefully in North Vietnam and committed all resources to rebuilding the war ravaged country as well as the dying economy in North Vietnam at the time.
Even after Vietnam was divided, if he had a conscience he should have recognized the Republic of Vietnam in the South as a separate, independent country like East and West Germany or North and South Korea. He should not be too greedy wanting to gobble up the South to satisfy his hegemonic dream. But as a devout communist and a power-hungry ruler, Ho Chi Minh fervently wanted to take over the South and place it under his control to satisfy his big patrons, the PRC and Russia.
The Tragedy of Communist Vietnam
The communist propaganda machine and the left-leaning U.S news media always accused the former RVN as a corrupt regime. To be fair and honest, no one could deny that every country on this Earth has some form of corruption. But if we compare the corruption between the former RVN and the communist party members and their cronies in the post-war years, the RVN appears amateurish.
The communist party members are much more skillful in exploiting foreign aid and investments, kickbacks from newly authorized businesses and land expropriation. They invented human trafficking networks. Under the “skillful management” of the communist regime, Vietnam is now the largest source of young girls and women sold to neighboring countries as sex slaves.
The communists sneered at the culture, all form of literary arts, books and music in the South as depraved, and were aggressively scouring everywhere to confiscate these materials to discard and destroy them.
Sadly, after they took over the South, morality, good old Vietnamese traditions and virtues went into extinction. Prostitution, pornographic materials, venereal diseases, HIV and drugs went rampant in this amoral, depraved society.
Communist members are no longer poor communists. They have all become Red Capitalists. These Red Capitalists and their children are living an ultra-luxurious life compared to miserable and poor people in Vietnam. Never in the former RVN did I see politicians and high-ranking generals with multi-million dollar mansions or vacation houses like today’s Red Capitalists. Never did I see children of high-ranking officials of the RVN driving cars that even in the U.S. only some affluent people could afford like Rolls Royces, Ferraris and Maseratis.
The last advice I wish to convey to my younger generation is: “Never trust the Vietnamese Communists!” They have been proven to be the worst kind of evil all through the last half of the 20th Century until the present. They have changed their name from the Vietnamese Communist Party to the Vietnamese Workers Party and from the Democratic Republic of Vietnam to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
They have transformed themselves from poor peasants before 1975 to multi-millionaires and billionaires through plundering and stealing after April 30, 1975.
In the bottom of their soul, they have not changed. They are still the inhumane, immoral, deceptive, dangerous, cruel and unpredictable communists. Don’t ever trust or believe them regardless of how sweet or conciliatory they appear in their efforts to convince you.
One More Thing…
Just out of curiosity, I was wondering where are those journalists of the 1960 era?
Why don’t they come out to criticize the current cruel communist dictators, the corrupt and immoral Red capitalists like they did during the Ngo Dinh Diem or Nguyen Van Thieu government?
Where have these hypocrites been hiding?