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Sep-24-2007 05:29printcomments

Vietnam War: It Could Have Been Avoided

If we learned from our mistakes, the world would be a different place today.

Ho Chi Minh
Image of Ho Chi Minh at Lijang River near Yangshuo, Guangxi, China. This photograph was taken in 1961 and is exhibited in the lobby of the Paradise Hotel in Yangshuo

(SALEM, Ore.) - Long before the U.S. went to Vietnam, before at least 58,148 of our countrymen were killed there, and thousands were left behind missing and in captivity, our country was asked by an acting leader of that nation to help them finally achieve freedom.

Without question, the word "freedom" brings to mind the purest pursuit of the United States, and our President has used it as one of the reasons for occupying Iraq with U.S. forces. Another example of a quest for freedom came at the close of the Second World War, from a man Americans later learned to hate.

The year Vietnam asked us for help was 1945, the man asking was Ho Chi Minh, and he would later become the leader of the communist forces of the North Vietnamese. When you look at the history of the Vietnam conflict, and all of the senseless killing and suffering, you learn there is at least a possibility that it could have been easily avoided.

During World War Two, Ho Chi Minh worked for President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He helped rescue downed American pilots, and providing valuable information to Americans on Japanese troop movements.

He had been trained in Moscow, but Ho had spent time in the United States too and was regarded as enthusiastically pro-American during this period. Ho disbanded the Communist Party in the immediate post-war period, a constitution similar to ours was adopted, and he called for a general election.

President Roosevelt had publicly endorsed Vietnam's independence and Ho believed the President would bring Vietnam its long awaited goal, freedom.

But the passing of FDR was more to Vietnam than a changing of the guard, it meant the end of a promise for U.S. support. When Ho Chi Minh sent communiques asking the Truman Administration to recognize Vietnam as a sovereign nation, and to not fund the revitalization of French colonialism in Southeast Asia, his words fell on deaf ears.

Shortly after that the French came back, funded by American dollars. But they did not last long, and their military forces were fully defeated by 1954. Ten years later the American war in Vietnam began, and more than ten more years would pass before our country's final pullout.

Had we listened to that request for freedom in 1945, there might have never been a Vietnam War. It is almost as though the country most interested in protecting the world from Communism, the U.S., was the facilitator of this country's aspirations to become Communist in the first place, at least Moscow responded to Ho Chi Minh's letters.

Why is this relevant? It just seems like perspective is everything when you talk about the current overseas conflicts, and our citizens forget the painful past all too easily while claiming to celebrate it.

It seems that we owe the veterans who gave their last breath fighting for the rest of us the respect of treating that freedom well, and reserving our fighting forces for wars that inevitably must be fought, rather than those that are more personal in nature, as Iraq seems to be to President Bush.

Vietnam in the end, is still a Communist country and it is a progressive one on many respects, but it is still more than capable of bringing a hard hand down on those who step over the line. Did it benefit us to send almost 60,000 of our forces into a war there that politicians did not allow the fighting forces to win? Most would say no, it wasn't.

It was recent history in the bigger picture, and for a long time people seriously appreciated our nation having reached a point where we don't send our troops off to wars that inevitably, can't be won. Today we are a nation that forgets easily the lessons of the past. ------------------------------------------------------------

Tim King is a former U.S. Marine with almost twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist and reporter. Today, in addition to his role as a war correspondent in Afghanistan where he spent the winter of 2006/07, this Los Angeles native serves as's Executive News Editor. is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website, affiliated only with Google News. You can send Tim an email at this address:

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Henry Ruark September 25, 2007 7:04 am (Pacific time)

S.L.M et al: Thanks for reference to New Orleans and desolating Katrina consequences. So happens Bush and eliter buddies there making whole new school system by installing "charter schools", run by private corporate control with public local, state and national funds. NCLb, up for renewal now, is under deep investigation for a whole series of semi-racketeer federal funds usages, with brother Neal and his media production firm involved, with Bush-family funds invested. Op Eds here reported in full from national sources, with their materials in hands of Congressional leaders now.

S.LaMarche: September 24, 2007 8:44 pm (Pacific time)

The quote by Santayana is most appropriate. The connection and meaning of "liberation" only an excuse to lie to the troops, the people of this country and the world, and inevetibly occupy a foreign land to steal and otherwise control their natural recources.,(Oil),and most importantly control of their government and the citizens they oppress in the name of God Damned "liberation". Bush is an unconvincing liar. I hope he falls well and fast., confronted with the W.T.C. operation and it's aftermath., right there in his Texas compound surrounded by his sychophants from Gonzales and Rice to Rumsfeld and Rove, all gathered to celebrate the hijacking of America while Cheney conducts the orchestra.Perfect!. Been to New Orleans lately?, I see the French quarter is re-built and open for buisness while those displaced from Katrina are homeless., and developers priced the ninth ward right out of the market for those who would have the audacity to return and re-claim what was there homes and lives before being left to the ever so competant F.E.M.A. administrators., while g.w. boarded Air Force One back to Crawford in time for dinner. Thank you very much.

Henry Ruark September 24, 2007 12:59 pm (Pacific time)

Todd et al: You read our entrance into Iraq in somewhat distorted fashion from that now solidly on the historic record. We went there because we were Bush-ed, in worst sense of that word. IF any doubt of that can supply depth documentation on request. Re "liberating" Iraquis, what we set out to liberate was that oil supply, as even Greenspan (with foot too near mouth) stated on record just recently. So perhaps yours re Tim's statement rings a bit less than ultimate truth, given those truths just stated. AND don't forget we had some shady dealings with Saddam, too, long before we felt we had to remove we are now reportedly doing via some assassination squads now put into place for that precise purpose.

Todd W. September 24, 2007 10:46 am (Pacific time)

Our failure to reach out to Ho to work for freedom is a point well taken. But how do you get from that to Saddam and the Iraq war? This editorial indicates that we should not be in Iraq. How ludicrous that Mr. King critizes the U.S. for not helping people gain freedom in Viet Nam and then turns around and complains that we are helping the Iraqis gain freedom!

Henry Ruark September 24, 2007 7:52 am (Pacific time)

To all: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."--George Santayana. Never a truer word has been written, as we are learning at bloody cost. Dig a bit, and you may be both surprised and mortified to learn WHY it was that HO was refused U.S. aid, then soon funneled to French for further frustration in empire building, leading inexorably to our help to Saddam...and now we know the consequences, as we pay every day in every way.

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