Comments in Response to “A Letter from Vietnam…”

Below is a sampling of my favorite comments – in no particular order – in response to my 30 April 2020 CounterPunch essay entitled A Letter From Viet Nam on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the End of the War. Most are from Facebook and Twitter; some are comments posted here and sent to me via email.

Facebook

Mark Reimer: An excellent article and perspective that should be included in any coursework regarding America and the Vietnam War. The writer’s assessment of a “different” approach to this debacle demands serious attention and further study to support Ho Chi Minh’s desire to model his nation’s governance in their own democratic style.

Tally Ho Chap: If a nation could speak. Vietnam pens a letter 45 years after the fall of Saigon and the unification of its nation…

Justin Sutton: Thank you for sharing this excellent essay. I am only 51y.o. grown up in America working hard to study history. I am lucky in life to have Ret US Army Col as a dear friend, teacher and business partner, who entered Vietnam in 64′ and was one of the last to leave and first to return to help the people of Vietnam rebuild. Andre Sauvageot, i know you would really enjoy this essay on Vietnam!

Tom Lederer: An excellent read

Mike Toliver A difficult read for me, as I was one of those “black and white” thinkers in those days – although my first patrol showed me otherwise.

Monte Fisher: I spent nearly a month in Viet Nam in 2013, visited the American War Museum (War Remnants Museum), and wrote an apology in the visitors’ record book from our PTSD support group of us Vietnam combat vets, (I was group facilitator, not a vet), it was both tragic and healing. . . I like the following excerpts from the article:

Nearly 4 million Vietnamese and over 58,000 of your fellow citizens did not die in a war of economic systems or ideologies. The fighting was not about a free market vs. a centrally-planned economy. It was about Vietnamese governing Vietnam without continued foreign interference. Vietnam won the war because it forced the US to exit from that bloodstained debacle.

The US was not ultimately victorious because there are now Starbucks, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, and Popeyes dotting Vietnam’s retail landscape. It did not win because Pepsi and Coca-Cola are battling for the palates and wallets of thirsty, sugar-deprived Vietnamese.

Vietnam won because its cause was just, its sacrifice supreme, and its military strategy brilliant. This will come as a shock to many of you but 30 April 1975, the day Saigon fell for the US and those Vietnamese who hitched their collective cart to the South Vietnamese client state and its benefactor, was a day of national liberation and joyous celebration for most Vietnamese. It was the day Vietnam became a unified, independent, and sovereign nation

Håkan Danielsson: As a summary, a first concluding history lesson, a bald reflection – diverse in its perspective – this article stands out. Thank you from one whose still lingering world view was shaped by what took place in a far-away southeast Asian region those years 1965-75.

Cecil Bothwell: It harkens (me) back to when I marched through tear gas around the Pentagon chanting “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF ((National Liberation Front) is gonna win!” I remember very clearly that nodal point in my life, an instant in which I realized I had to choose. As the chant moved through the crowd, building, I confronted my younger self, trained to be a patriot. Could I chant in favor of what my government had defined as “the enemy?” Or should I chant in favor of what I believed to be righteous? I hesitated. Then quietly, then louder, then full voiced. “Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, the NLF is going to win!” And, as this essay records, they did.

Bill Branyon: NO deaths in Vietnam from Covid. This is an amazing summary of US involvement in ‘Nam and how the US has not learned anything from it.

Cindy Hoedel: Truly excellent.

Jerry Shaw: Nationalism at its worst!

Walter Patrick Rogers: When will we learn, when will we ever learn…certainly not before November. If November goes wrong perhaps never.

Bice C. Wilson: Well worth reading. Sigh

Olivia Woodford: This is an article that needs to be shared.

Gary Hicks: See that this gets around!!! Much thanks.

Jeanne Thatcher: One of Our Many Bloody Wars

Richie Monarch: Terrific, if sad, article

Veterans for Peace Chapter 089: Read this perspective .

Front & Center USA: This is well worth the read…

James Ha: A well written account of Vietnam’s past and present. Worth reading.

Ralph Wemberly: Everyone living in this country should read this entire article. It’s a lesson that’s been a long time coming. Will we ever learn?

Frank G Schafer: Long piece, but it’s hard to blow any holes in. We are a war-like nation. Too much testosterone. Maybe we need about 20 years of female presidents.

Jonathan Cresswell: This might make you Mad..it might make you Sad.
You might smile a soft smile at times when you read. It’s HARD to come to terms with ourselves..that…WE HAVE BEEN WRONG…many times. Our Government is Corrupt, and HAS been corrupt for Decades…if not longer.
It has corrupted US..the people..and USED us for horrific purposes. This is DEFINITELY WORTH THE TIME TO READ! I hope you do. America has a chance to Throw Off the FILTH that has covered us for more than HALF A CENTURY!

Dean Whalen: The “Vietnam” or “American” War was a defining time in my teenage years. Some childhood friends enlisted in the US military and some resisted believing it to be Imperialistic bullying. This article presents a history that you will not often read in American media. I recently visited Vietnam and was totally amazed by the graciousness and hospitality of the people. Reminders of the war were easily observed if you paid attention. If only the USA would learn that waging peace is far more productive than waging war, this world would be a better place.

Archie O’Kennedy: It was the youth of America that stopped this profitable death machine that killed 4 million Vietnamese. For nothing.

Peter Shapiro: Excellent real history

Walt Burnham: Know your history

James Bellini: Please read the words spoken by Ho Chi Minh in Ba Dinh Square on the occasion of the declaration of Vietnam’s independence in 1945 and know that the path the US embarked upon was unnecessary, contrary to our America values, and a huge mistake from which the US has not recovered. A necessary reminder from a friend here in Hanoi.

John Anastasio: We have never come to terms with the fact that we lost the war after murdering 4 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotions who only wanted their own freedom.

Martin Studer: 45 years ago, an american war where they invaded a country on false pretenses, and dragged our country in to legitimise their claims came to an end. Clearly, they have learned so much, and never done it since then..

Kim Pursell: The US has never really come to terms with this history and that failure will condemn us to foreign interventionist catastrophe(s) until we do.

James R. Torbert: Viet Nam was America’s Boer War. the beginning of the end of the U.S. empire.

Connie Parker: Unmask the mighty

Jovan Apostolović: Respect to Viet Nam and Uncle Ho! A Letter From Viet Nam on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the End of the War

Peter Hendry: Long read but worth it.

Peggy Carr: A bit long but worth reading

Twitter

Phương Đoàn @hoamai0201: A letter from #Vietnam “You will be welcomed as a friend in a place where the past has not been forgotten but where former adversaries have been forgiven” (Sparkling heart emoji)

Mark Giselson @MarkGisleson: Something else Americans can feel shame for as our empire collapses under the weight of Wall Street greed.

Annie Sruta @blumo0n: They have built more prisons than schools. They have mercilessly slain our patriots; they have drowned our uprisings in rivers of blood…. (HCM) The war always comes home.

elliot sperber @elliot_sperber: “All men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” — Ho Chi Minh

@OlafFoss: «Your ignorance, arrogance, and ideological tunnel vision resulted in wholesale death and destruction in a country just slightly larger than New Mexico. About three million of you “served” in that travesty of a war, nearly 10% of that generation»

@OlafFoss: «#Vietnam country has rightfully been showered with international praise for the way in which it has handled the #coronavirus #pandemic. The contrast with the US president and his administration couldn’t be starker or grimmer.

Caliphate Pontificus @cspanSnark: The Geneva Accords of 1954 stipulated that Vietnam would be divided at the 17th parallel until a national election was held in 1956. According to President Eisenhower’s memoirs. Ho Chi Minh would have received 80% of the vote, thus unifying his country.

green wolf @Simplekills: The ignominy remains

I, Wingman @IstanbulWingman: Your military and that of your client state, the Republic of #Vietnam, and other countries that joined you in this immoral, unjust, and unjustified war, killed nearly 4 million #Vietnamese, over half of whom were civilians.

Other

Unmentionables gandolf: If you want to read something intelligent on Vietnam instead of spouting genocidal nonsense, try this. A Letter From Viet Nam on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the End of the War (Common Dreams comments section)

ZNet Comments: Michael MayWhile I never went to Viet Nam, although for a short time I wore a US military uniform, the US invasion and travesty was an important part of my life and generation. I don’t know how to describe what I feel in reading Mr. Ashwill’s article other than to say I am glad and happy to have read what he has written. (On ZNet)

Jefferson Azevedo (01/05/2020 at 06:19: Thank you for the great insightful and well written piece! It’s very important that the history of imperial barbarism endured and brilliantly fought by the Vietnamese people be always remembered. Viet Nam is an example to all oppressed and exploited people and nations of how to overcome the direst situations and, with unity, solidarity, and love for the common cause, become victorious even when the enemy seems invincible. Long live the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam! (On this blog)

William Yoder (01/05/2020 at 14:27): I salute you sir, for this very important article! And I salute you for spending your time in Vietnam. Please do all you can to spread your convictions among all those hurting and deceived citizens of the USA. Is it too late for a turn-about? I’m also a US-citizen but have spent most of the last 50 years in Europe. I have spent the last 20 years in Russia. (For what it’s worth.) (On this blog)

Ron Graham Becker, a US veteran who served with MACVSOG, 5th Special Forces in Danang, Phu Bai, Quang Tri and other locations in Laos and Thailand, emailed me to tell me that he witnessed the genocide and the massive destruction of the country and the people of Vietnam.” He added, “It has never left me, even after 50 years. A day never goes by that I don’t think about the horror that took place during the years that I was there. In the years following my involvement after returning stateside in early 1970, I dedicated myself to understanding what truly took place during that time in history. I haven’t ceased in this quest.

Comments via email from André Sauvageot, Colonel, U.S. Army (Ret.)

With deepest appreciation Mark for sharing your essay for 30 April 2020, the 45th Anniversary of Vietnam’s heroic victory.

With my long involvement in Việt Nam, from August 1964 and still continuing, I know for sure your letter is a detailed, 100% accurate, objective analysis, of what I observed and had concluded years before reading your letter!

I also liked one of your opening sentences on “what the Vietnamese logically know as the American War because it was a war that the US fought on Vietnamese soil.”

One could also say, “because it was a war perpetrated by the US and fought on Vietnamese soil.”

The internal factor leading the US to perpetrate this evil war, was failing to heed, former President Eisenhower’s warning: “Beware of the Military Industrial Congressional Complex.” Before being elected President, (He was my first vote at age 21) Eisenhower, was the 5-star U.S. Army General who commanded U.S. forces in our great victory over Nazi Germany, WWII, 1945.

So tragic that so many Presidents who avoided danger of combat for themselves, e.g., Vice President Cheney, 5 draft deferments, President Bush, “served” in the safe haven of the non-deployable Alabama National Guard, President an ideal draft deferment for “bone spurs” no barrier for 18 holes of golf, but no battlefield!

Another group of Americans who avoided the “American war in Vietnam” for which I had volunteered, I greatly admire. They were smarter that I, (as so many are) knew we should not perpetrate war in Vietnam and opposed the war, not just for themselves, but for every American!

I, not knowing anything about Vietnam, believed the U.S. propaganda until after about three (03) weeks of battlefield service; I knew the U.S. Government had lied the American people into supporting war in Vietnam.

But enough of that Mark. Most important is that many people read your wonderful “Letter from Vietnam on the Occasion of the 45th Anniversary of the End of the War (30.4.20)

With deep gratitude for your continuing to “hammer away at the basics!”

André

In a subsequent post I’ll include some comments that were critical of my essay. Perhaps I should have included a trigger warning, pun intended, for pro-USA supporters of the Republic of Viet Nam (RVN). Stay tuned!

Finally, I was thinking of translating the essay into Vietnamese for those Vietnamese who might be interested but cannot read English. Lo and behold, I stumbled upon a good translation on Facebook. The response to the Vietnamese version has been overwhelming and overwhelmingly positive with thousands of likes, comments, and shares – 4,000 and counting. Up next.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

6 thoughts on “Comments in Response to “A Letter from Vietnam…”

  1. Beautifully written and felt. I resisted/protested that war from 1961 til Victory Day. You taught me something I was unsure about–just how much did US “capitalism” win? I agree the Vietnamese did not fight for a specific eocnomy but I am still concernted that the government goes along with US military exercises and a coalition, something you did not touch.
    I first read your piece at CP, where I sometimes write. Here is TCBH collective voice on Victory Day.
    read://https_www.counterpunch.org/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.counterpunch.org%2F2020%2F05%2F07%2Fthoughts-on-the-liberation-of-saigon-and-the-end-to-americas-genocidal-war-against-the-vietnamese-people%2F

    • Thank you, Ron. The excerpt I used in my essay came from this article, which I felt compelled to write after hearing Viet Thanh Nguyen say in a TV interview that “the US won this conflict.” He wasn’t pleased with the article but, as the saying goes, when the shoe fits, you’ve gotta wear it! https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/05/05/just-because-the-golden-arches-are-in-vietnam-doesnt-mean-the-us-won-th/ (It’s not like you can deny something you’ve said in a taped interview. That’s the Idiot-in-Chief’s shtick.)

      The Vietnamese government is very good at this balancing act. It’s the cornerstone of its foreign policy, the so-called “friends with everyone” policy.

      Thanks, too, for the article link. SG was both liberated and it “fell,” depending upon your perspective. I’ve hammered away at “liberation” in a number of articles because that was the truth for the vast majority of Vietnamese and people around the world who supported their war of national liberation against the US, its allies, and its client state. (This distinction is also made regarding Cambodia. The “invasion” of Cambodia and the overthrow of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime was a liberation in the eyes of most Cambodians, including friends of mine who are KR child survivors.)

      Almost all of the many comments I have received and read are positive with one exception: some delusional RVN supporters, young and old, who live in their own geopolitical fantasy world. They cannot accept the truth about the defining event in their lives. That grist for another post…

      The Vietnamese translation has elicited many thousands of likes, comments, and shares on Facebook. In fact, my next post will consist of selected comments. https://markashwill.com/2020/05/05/ngay-30-4-2020-la-thu-tu-viet-nam-nhan-45-nam-ngay-ket-thuc-chien-tranh/

      MAA

      • US won the war? it is ridiculous,when recalled the shameful escape with the tail between the legs of the American soldiers.

  2. Exactly, which is why I wrote this article “Just Because the Golden Arches are in Vietnam Doesn’t Mean the US Won the War.”

    MAA

  3. What do you think of Jim DiEugenio’s criticisms of your article on the Kennedys and King site.

    • First, the article was nearly 3,700 words. (Check out these two comments: “Long read but worth it.” PH “A bit long but worth reading.” PC) Secondly, it wasn’t about JFK. Thirdly, JD should write his own article about JFK and Viet Nam, which I guess he did – sorta kinda. Yes, I’m familiar with what Kennedy MIGHT HAVE DONE, had he not been assassinated in 11-63. I’m also familiar with his Cold War mentality, which was typical of his generation, and a cornerstone of US foreign policy until the implosion of the Soviet Union. Thanks for reading. MAA P.S.: I didn’t select the photo.

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