[Note: This is a subpost linked to by Vietnam, Israel and the Left’s Delusional Narratives. Feel free to comment but the post might not make much sense without the parent post’s context.]
Delusion: The war in South Vietnam was a popular uprising against an unpopular minority government
Reality: The outcome of the Tet offensive proved this idea conclusively wrong. We now know that the North Vietnamese did really believe they had wide popular support in the South and that, if they could just seize control of enough of the country, the oppressed people of the South would rise up in mass to join them, making it impossible for America to maintain control. That did not happen. Not only did the people not rise up but the people actively rebelled against the Viet Cong, especially after the Viet Cong began mass executions and atrocities in the areas they controlled.
By the time the “peace” movement became a major player circa 1970, only a small minority of South Vietnamese wanted to live under communist rule.
The Vietnamese did obviously wish to be a free and independent people, but that did not translate into them wanting to adopt a foreign idea, communism, nor did it mean they wanted to trade western capitalist colonial masters for western communist ones.
It should have been apparent to the “intellectuals” of the “peace” movement that the people of Vietnam would have preferred a form of government that arose from their own culture and traditions. But no, the “intellectuals” of the “peace” movement arrogantly asserted that the majority of Vietnamese, who were largely uneducated subsistence farmers, had all read Das Kapital and wanted to be communist. In truth, all they really wanted was for everyone else to leave them alone. The communist superpowers would not allow that.
In 1972 South Vietnam had a successful round of elections that laid the groundwork of a real democracy. Two years later we abandoned them utterly, leaving them alone to face the full might of the Soviet Union and Mao’s China.
2 thoughts on “Vietnam: The Delusion of the Popular Uprising”
You should be careful in distinguishing between the unpopularity of any particular government and the governing system. Politicians may have horrible popularity numbers (see: George W Bush) without them affecting the popularity of the underlying system that elected them. What is true in the US was certainly true with regard to South Vietnam. The idea of selecting your own indigenous leadership is the system, and likely very popular. Any group of politicians selected might or might not work out.
“…In truth, all they really wanted was for everyone else to leave them alone.”
That was exactly what we were told by an infantry training instructor at Camp LeJeune in 1966. He followed with, “your job is to watch out for each other because they’re just poor rice farmers and don’t really care who runs the government or whether you live or die”. Funny how a dumb grunt understood that but the intellectuals didn’t. Of course that particular individual had already served a tour there.
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