Social Scientist. v 13, no. 144 (May 1985) p. 58.


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Vietnam : Ten Years After Victory

ON 30 APRIL 1985 Vietnam celebrated the tenth anniversary of the fall of Saigon. In this connection a spate of articles, documentaries, interviews etc appeared in the American media. One again heard the old justifications for the massive American intervention, namely, that the Vietnam war was fought with the 'best intentions' of defending freedom; and this^ notwithstanding the fact that the people of Vietnam waged a heroic war against this variety of American freedom for more than 30 years.

Vietnam is the Vietnamese pronunciation of a Chinese character which means a country to the south of China which passes over obstacles and sits up again. It appears the Vietnamese have a better vision of themselves than others. Ho Chi Minh confidently declared in 1946, "Vietnamese would rather die than lose their independence.'91 This only reflected the spirit and determination of the Vietnamese nationalism. The Vietnamese had a glorious history of repelling foreign intruders for about 2000 years. The Vietnamese tradition of nationalism started from their long struggle (more than 1000 years) against imperial China and lasted till 1975 when they humbled the world's mightiest power, the United States.

The French naval vessels sailed into South Vietnam in the 1840s. On the pretext of protecting the missionaries from reprisals of the natives they sought to Christinize; the plan was to colonize Vietnam and to seek new access to China. In 1889 the French made the three territories of Vietnam—Cochin-China in the south, Annam in the centre, and Tonkin in the north—together with the separate entities of Cambodia and Laos to the west to form a single administrative unit of Indochina, though cultures, languages and nuances of religion were different.3 Though this helped the people of Indochina to forge a unity in their liberation struggles, it also created border problems later on, thus contributing to the present instability in that region. Throughout the colonial period there were sporadic uprisings against the French, but they were suppressed ruthlessly. These never threatened the French rule in any significant way. The formation of the Communist Party of Indochina on 18 February WO was* a landmark in the history of Vietnam which enabled the freedom loving disparate groups to unite under one banner. It soon gained tremendous popularity among the masses, especially the peasants, whom it finally lerf to victory.

The weakness of the metropolitan powers was exposed during the Second World War when the Japanese overran the whole of South-East Asia with little or no resistance. When Roosevelt warned the Vichy government that Prance would lose Indochina after the war if it yielded to Japan, the French callously appealed to Hitler to maintain white (Franco-German) supremacy over the colony; this proposal, however,.



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