Looking Back on Vietnam before the 1968 Tet Offensive

March 17, 2017

Looking Back on Vietnam before the 1968 Tet Offensive: America’s Defeat or Nixon’s Peace with Honor


Hopefully, this will remind President Donald Trump and his associates in The White House to deal with Asia with care.  We in Asia will not allow ourselves to be your pawns again. It is easy but expensive to make war.

Learn not only from Vietnam but also from Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Libya and Syria. America, you are not invincible. So give diplomacy a chance and allocate more money to Foggy Bottom (The State Department) and control the military-industrial complex and The Pentagon. –Din Merican.


3 thoughts on “Looking Back on Vietnam before the 1968 Tet Offensive

  1. For those without a reasonably understanding and appreciation of Vietnam’s history, the essay’s title is misleading. The sinking of Saigon was preordained in 1956 when President Eisenhower dishonored the Geneva Agreement to hold a national election to unify North and South Vietnam. What happened in South Vietnam — the military coups, the rivalries between various military factions, the political chaos, the distrust of civilians toward installed governments, the social instability – was to be expected when there was a newly created puppet state and power vacuum engineered by a super power. It happened in South Vietnam and in other newly independent former colonies. The US, for all its military and economic might, was not equipped to deal with the expected chaos. For the current analogy, look no further than Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The conflict between Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu did not “sink Saigon”. What sunk Saigon was that the United States supported Saigon regime was on the wrong side of history in a war for independence. The idea that the feud between Nguyen Van Thieu and Nguyen Cao Ky sank Saigon is simply ridiculous. Two thirds of the South Vietnamese could not have cared less about either one of these guys. The problem was that there was simply no leader in the south who came close to rallying the populace the way Ho Chi Minh did throughout the entire country. The guys America chose, Diem and Thieu, were not even close to fulfilling that task. Consequently there really was no way to make South Vietnam into an independent country that could fight off Hanoi and the Viet Cong, even though America invested huge money, material and blood into it. And even then, that was actually counter to the purpose since that would build a dependency on the United States. To my knowledge, neither Thieu nor Ky ever spoke out against that policy. They leaned on it.

    By the way, Nguyen Cao KY ended up running a liquor store in Orange County, California. For a short period of time in the early 2000s, I became acquainted with the General and Mrs. Ky through some Viet Hoa (Chinese Vietnamese) activities, both of whom were avid golfers. In fact, I played several rounds of golf with them. General Ky died at a hospital in Kuala Lumpur in July 23, 2011 at the age of 80, where he was being treated for a respiratory complication. The irony to the Vietnam War to me was that later in that decade, General Ky returned to Vietnam as a representative of an American golf resort developer. Capitalism and war had come full circle, indeed.

    I think often of the men in my unit who died in this war, and friends who died in other units, and the many wounded those many years ago and it’s still depressing, very depressing. Because politicians, largely, couldn’t learn to get along and solve disagreements. They were not fit to be called leaders of men. And every time I think of the Vietnam War I think of how I had failed to bring every one I commanded home, alive. I love my men, I still do, and they know it. The bond you created through life and death never breaks. It’s called brotherhood.

    If Malaysia really wants to ease the racial tensions in the country, one of the ways is to have a national military service, men of different races will develop this brotherhood to learn to cover each other’s ass to stay alive in case of war. But, then, UMNO will lose control over all the guns to keep themselves in power, forever.

  2. While I am not in a position to take on the geo-political and strategic issues related to the Vietnam War one of the key reasons for the fall of Saigon was that the excess cash that was fed into the war machine somehow found its way onto the streets of Saigon. The World Bank and IMF in its early days did pay much attention to “absorbtive capacity” when dealing with financial flows into developing countries. Their stated aim was to build the capacity of the countries concerned to be able to utilize the money that was flowing in.

    Money is like water. It will be absorbed into development so long as it can be absorbed. But once the absorbtive capacity is reached it goes into all the undesireable fields. We humans can always find something unproductive to do with the cash that is sitting there doing nothing. Even if victory in the battle-field was achieved Republic of Vietnam could never have gotten out of the poor governance that it had to endure during the war years.

    Yes the new Vietnam has developed very fast and its leaders have been able to take the nation to its present level. But old habits die hard. To take that nation to the next level there is no subsitute to good governance and it is the incumbent duty of the leaders to find out and implement what works for them.

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