Friday, May 7, 2010

35th Anniversary of the End of War

Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, fell on April 30, 1975, marking the end of the Vietnam War.  According to an article from the Associated Press titled "Vietnam celebrates the 35th anniversary of war's end," there was rejoicing about the unification of the country under communist rule last week. 

Upon closer inspection of the article, though, you can deduce that not everyone in Vietnam is rejoicing.  Based on the knowledge gained while working on Abandoned Allies, I can tell you it's highly likely that our former allies fighting for their own freedom were not among those rejoicing.  I'll break it down for you so you can see what I now see while reading the article.

Here are the facts quoted directly from this article*:
  1. Vietnam marked the 35th anniversary ... with a grand military parade
  2. Some 50,000 invitees ... crowded the parade route
  3. In Friday's re-enactment ... everyone in the former Saigon greeted the Communist troops with jubilation.
  4. In a reminder of how the Communist Party retains a strong grip on the flow of information ..., foreign journalists were forbidden from conducting interviews along the parade route.
  5. Friday's speeches were sprinkled with timeworn communist slogans and quotes...invoked by Le Thanh Hai, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Party chief: "There is nothing more precious than independence and freedom."
  6. But Hai focused his remarks on Vietnam's economic achievements
  7. "The U.S. is a friend of Vietnam now," said Do Phuac Man..."We've seen growing investment from the United States, which is to our mutual benefit."
  8. In a speech, Lt. Gen. Le Thanh Tam ... warned that Vietnam must be wary of "hostile forces who use democracy and human rights to sabotage Vietnam."
Those are quotes taken directly from the article, although they are abbreviated.  Now, let's disect what those quotes really mean.  (NOTE: This is my interpretation, based on what I have learned during the past two years of research.  I strongly encourage you to do your own research so you can draw your own conclusions or correct me if I'm wrong.)

Here is my interpretation of the quotes from this article (corresponding to the numbered quotes above):
  1. Vietnam celebrated it's victory over the U.S. with a miliatary parade
  2. In a country of about 86 million people, only 50k were invited, with no indication of who was invited or why (leaving me to think it was mostly Communist Party members)
  3. They want you to think everyone celebrated (see #4)
  4. Press is regulated by the government
  5. The subject matter of speeches began to celebrate independence and freedom...
  6. But quickly switched to touting economic successes,
  7. Stating that trade with the U.S. benefits both countries
  8. With a healthy threat against any people (namely Americans) who intend to sabotage Vietnam with talk of democracy and human rights
Do you read what I'm reading?  This article shakes our hand and simultaneously slaps us in the face.  The entire article can be broken down to one thing: Vietnam is celebrating it's war victory over the U.S., wants to keep trading because it's economically viable, and requires that we never mention democracy or human rights (much less stipulate that they treat our allies, the Montagnards, better than they are doing so right now).

Now that I understand more of what's happening--although I still have much more to learn--and I take away a much different message: what exactly are they doing in order to mention two opposing quotes: (1) "nothing is more important than independence and freedom" and (2) Vietnam must be wary of "hostile forces who use democracy and human rights to sabotage Vietnam."

What are your thoughts about the article?

*This is just one article, one source.  When reading the news, it's a great practice to read about the same subject from various sources.  Do your research and don't accept something as truth just because it came from one source.