The Guardian 4 May, 2005

Editorial

Vietnam’s victory

Last week the Governor-General, Major-General Michael Jeffery, unveiled a memorial to Australian troops who fought in Vietnam. The memorial is intended to glorify the puppet regime set up by the USA in South Vietnam during the war, and those anti-communist Vietnamese troops who fought against the independence and freedom of their own country. It is yet another attempt by the Howard government to re-write history in order to justify dragging Australia into the USA’s bogus war on terrorism.

In 1945 Vietnam was liberated from Japanese occupation by the national liberation movement led by Ho Chi Minh. That freedom was short-lived as the French colonialists, who had occupied Vietnam since the 1880s, reasserted their control shortly after the Japanese were booted out.

But the taste for freedom and national independence could not be stifled and the Vietnamese people took up arms against the French occupation as well. The French too were defeated and by 1954 were forced to withdraw their troops. The French colonialists were followed by the US invasion with Australia as a willing lackey, as it had been in Korea and again, today in Iraq.

However, nothing could quell the determination of the Vietnamese people to take the path to independence and after many long years of armed struggle and huge sacrifices they were eventually victorious.

The US and its lackeys were finally thrown out with the taking of Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) on April 30, 1975. The Whitlam Labor government had withdrawn Australian troops in 1972 before the ignominious defeat of the US armies.

The US defeat was, above all, a victory for the people, the government and the courageous armed forces of Vietnam, and for the leadership given by the Communist Party of Vietnam.

It was a victory for internationalism with support coming from the Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China and other socialist countries.

It was a victory for the people of many countries who demonstrated in their hundreds of thousands against one of the dirtiest of wars waged against one of the poorest countries in the world.

In Australia, as in the USA, opposition to the war was marked by the imprisonment of many conscripts who refused to take part in the war and by such actions as the refusal of maritime workers to ship war supplies to Vietnam.

Even now, 30 years after the US forces were forced out, the Vietnamese people continue to suffer. Over one million children have been born with deformities arising from the contamination of the countryside by Agent Orange.

An American court has just thrown out a claim for the compensation of the victims by the US chemical corporations — headed by the Dow and Monsanto corporations — which manufactured and supplied the toxic materials used to defoliate the countryside.

This is just one of the consequences of a war conducted in the name of freedom, democracy and justice when, in fact, they brought hell on earth to the people of Vietnam. Vietnam survived the criminal war and is now on the path of rapid economic and social development.

The defeat of the US plans in Vietnam also helped protect Laos, Cambodia and other south east Asian nations which had, after the defeat of the Japanese, won their national independence.

The victory of the Vietnamese people has had the added benefit of helping defend the Chinese revolution which today would be threatened by the US military bases that would have inevitably followed a US victory.

The current re-writing of history still churns out the same lies about freedom and democracy: it is not for nothing that Prime Minister Howard appointed Major-General Jeffery — a participant in the slaughter in Vietnam — to the post of Governor-General.

The same imperialist forces are still active and at work today and their objectives have not changed. However, any idea that their defeated forces can turn back the clock is an empty dream. Their bestial and savage world has gone forever in Vietnam.

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