- Posted by Rell Hayes
- On November 17, 2015
- 0 Comments
I recently had the very sobering experience of visiting the “American War ” museum in old Saigon now called Ho Chi Minh City. We in the west know that war as the Vietnam War.
Winners get to write history as they feel inclined and that has been the way since wars began. However i did find a pretty honest and fair representation of facts and reality on my visit.
I fortunately was too young to ever have been at risk of going to that war but old enough to have seen the images on the news every night of the first real tv covered war.
I thought we went there to avoid what was referred to often as the “Domino Effect”. That is that should communism get a foothold in one Asian country the others around it would fall to communism like dominoes. I think i was fooled in this belief.
What saddened me in my visit was to discover that the coalition that were there fighting actually had no leagal right to be there.
At a Geneva Conference in Switzerland in July 1954, not only did the Geneva Accords effectively end French control over Indochina, but Cambodia and Laos were also granted independence from France, thus bringing an end to French Indochina. Maintaining the partitioning of North and South Vietnam by the 17th parallel that was first established at the Potsdam Conference, Ho Chi Minh was given the territory north of the 17th parallel while Emperor Bao Dai was given the area south of the 17th parallel. Vietnam was temporarily divided, but an agreement had been reached for free elections to be held in July 1956 to unify the two regions. Emperor Dai’s rule was short lived in that by 1955, Dai was overthrown and U.S.-backed Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem was instated as president. ( Source Wikipedia )
So instead of respecting an accord that granted Vietnam freedom and allowed for free elections the USA chose to ignore such a right and instead assisted France financially and with advisors from that point on. Eventually America went in with soldiers in 1965. They went into a war France had fought for years and had not even got close to winning.
The war went on to cost the coalition countries billions and billions of dollars but more importantly it costs tens of thousands of young men their lives whiles hundreds of thousands were wounded.
Over a 10-year span, Americans killed in action or listed as missing in action totaled 58,226 and another 153,303 wounded, bringing the total casualties to 211,529. Many believe that, of the 2,300 U.S. soldiers classified as missing in action, many were taken prisoner by the DRV and held indefinitely. A total of 4,400 to 5,000 South Koreans died. Among the Australian forces, 501 were killed and 3,131 were wounded out of a total of 47,000 troops deployed in Vietnam. New Zealand suffered a total of 225 casualties of which 38 were killed and 187 were wounded, while Thailand suffered 351 casualties. ( Source Wikipedia )
Unfortunately for the Vietnamese the war did not end the deaths. America chose to use outlawed chemical weapons in the war the most famous of which was Agent Orange. Tens of thousands of gallons of this poison was sprayed over land on North Vietnam to defoliate jungle areas. This is a poison that lives on in the soil for years & years. Still in Vietnam today you see people born after the war but who suffer horrific deformities that doctors say are related to these poisons used in the war by America. ( Thousands of Coalition solders have also reported major illnesses related to the poisons and have had children born with major deformities from them as well.)
I am not writimg with malice to any soldiers who fought in Vietnam. Soldiers go where politicians and generals tell them. However all i could think during my visit to Vietnam was; what the hell were we doing fighting an illegal war there? ”
A quote my son had heard came to mind. War is just a sign of bad politics.
Today i see us in two more wars we should never have gone into. Afghanistan and Iraq. Will people look back on those military actions and ask the same question. Were they illegal wars?
When will we learn.