Sunday, January 02, 2005

 

Nixon and Viet Nam

Giving credit to Richard Nixon for ending the Viet Nam War is like congratulating someone for dousing a fire that they had a hand in starting. Nixon came to prominence in the late 1940's using the anti-communist red-baiting tactic to thwart his political opponents. Much of the nation was in a Red Scare mentality after World War II as Russia was singled out as our next great enemy. In fact, before World War II was even finished the United States, Britain and China had already pegged their ally Russia as a postwar enemy.

It was within this Red Scare environment that Nixon rose to power, being elected Vice President with President Eisenhower in 1952. The McCarthy hearings were a witch hunt to weed out communists and sympathizers and many lives were altered or destroyed by them. After the French were defeated in Viet Nam in 1954 and the Geneva Accords were signed, Viet Nam was divided into a South and North Viet Nam and the anti-commnist fervor of Eisenhower's administration(though ironically Eisenhower was more restrained and moderate) right away begin a campaign of psywar and terrorism against the North Viet Namese. Basically, the psywar stressed to North Viet Namese that the communists, rulers of North Viet Nam, were going to wage a campaign of executions against those who were sympathetic to the French.

A mass migration to the South began, facilitated by the CIA, which transported about 1.1 million people to the South under the more "benign" and Catholic leader, President Diem. Diem had been on the French Riviera during Viet Nam's fight for independence against the French, and the United States installed him as their puppet leader for the new South Viet Nam. The mass influx of mainly Catholic Viet Namese(remember, France is a predominantly Cathlic nation) created tensions among the inhabitants of the south. Land was confiscated by the government and given to the new arrivals from the North. Many government jobs were also given exclusively to the Northern immigrants.

The new police force and military, trained by US military advisers under the watchful eye of the CIA, added further to the tensions as Viet Namese were turned against each other. Chinese merchants who for centuries had been the backbone of trading in southern Viet Nam were expelled from the region, being branded as communists, so the vital agrarian trade economy of the southern Viet Namese villages began to collapse. With their land confiscated and their economy devastated, many Viet Namese turned to banditry to survive. It was this "rebellion" which gave the United States and its CIA handlers the green light to term the conflict escalating in South Viet Nam as "communist insurgency".

Vice President Nixon was the chief action officer in the so-called 5412 group, similar to the Bush administration behind-the-scenes machinations of war that we are now witnessing. Eisenhower was actually unaware of many of this groups decisions and actions. It wasn't until the Kennedy administration that the number of military advisers in Viet Nam began to rise, but President Kennedy WAS planning a gradual pullout which would have been complete by 1965. Right after his assassination(in fact four days after he was shot) President Johnson reversed this policy and basically gave the CIA and military carte blanche to wage war in Viet Nam.

The Viet Nam War was started and waged by those interests that stood to profit by it, and similar to what we are seeing today in the Iraq grab bag for rich and powerful corporations, Nixon was a key puppet in the government for these groups. After almost 60,000 dead Americans soldiers and a couple million dead Viet Namese, the American public finally had enough critical mass to turn the tide toward a settlement approach to Viet Nam. Without the antiwar movement here in the states, the Viet Nam war might still be going, as well as many other wars that line the pockets of the rich and powerful!


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