Examining the Myths of the Vietnam War
SESSION 15

The Vietnamese Point of View
(Click Here for Press Release)

Day Three -- Thursday, July 28, 2004 Fourth Session 1515-1700 (Click to See Video) (Click here to see transcript) [Suggestion: you might want to listen to the Video while reading the transcript. To do this, open the Video which will take you toWindows Media Player and then minimize it and open the transcript.]

15. The Vietnamese Side – Was this a civil war as portrayed by the media? Was Ho Chi Minh a Nationalist or a Communist? Did he have the support of the people in Vietnam, North and South? Was Ngo Dinh Diem a puppet of the French colonialists? Was the National Liberation Front a revolutionary movement independent of North Vietnam? Did the Viet Cong win the hearts and minds of villagers through humanitarian policies? Did the Geneva Declarations of 1954 legally bind Diem's government and the United States to unify the two halves of Vietnam through elections. Is life better in Indochina now that the United States is gone? Is the teaching of the Vietnam War fair in its representation of the Vietnamese? Has the regime in Vietnam today respected Human Rights issues re religion and ethnic minorities? [Nguoi Viet Hai Ngoai]

Moderator: Garnett "Bill" Bell

Speakers (with hyperlinks to additional information:

Huy Duc
Michael Sheppard-Nguyen
Nguyen Khac Chinh

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Discussion Forum: Click Here to Discuss Session 15

Articles of Interest:

Kerry stand upsets some Vietnamese by Quynh-Giang Tran, Globe Correspondent, 8/14/2002
Kerry's betrayal of Vietnam by Jeff Jacoby Boston Globe, August 25, 2002.
Our Viet war friends betrayed by John Kerry by Joseph L. Galloway, Knight Ridder, March 31, 2004
Hanoi cracks down on religious, political dissent by Christina Toh-Pantin (Reuters)

Suggested Reading:

1. Primer for Revolt; Truong Chinh; Praeger, NY; 1963.
2. Reeducation in Post Vietnam: Personal Postscripts to Peace; Edward Metzner; Texas A&M Press, College Station, TX; 2001.
3. The 25-Year Century: A South Vietnamese General Remembers the Indochina War to the Fall of Saigon; Lam Quang Thi; University of North Texas Press, Denton, TX; 2002.
4. A Vietcong Memoir; Truong Nhu Tang with David Chanoff and Doan Van Toai; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, NY; 1985.
5. Vietnam Under Communism; Nguyen Van Canh; Hoover Institution, Palo Alto, CA; 1983.
6. The Vietnamese Gulag; Doan Van Toai and David Chanoff; Simon & Schuster, NY; 1986.
7. Vision Accomplished? The Enigma of Ho Chi Minh; N. Khac Huyen; Collier Books, NY; 1971.

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"[He] watched the intersection in front of the hotel with the professional interest of a patrol copper. Bicycles, cyclos, motor scooters, motorcycles, handcarts, left-over Russian jeeps, military trucks, occasional cars, and even one old mamasan with ocher betel nut-stained teeth, shiny black pantaloons, and bare splayed feet carrying poles heavy with vegetables, slung over her shoulder -- they all convened in front of his eyes. No stop light. No stop signs. No right of way, no white lines on the pavement. A heavy volume of traffic.

"Everyone in that street aimed dead center at the middle of the intersection. Even inside the air-conditioned lobby he could hear the cacophony of horns and bells. They carried a tonal range as varied as the five potential accents that could mark each vowel in the Vietnamese language.

"Jesus -- a Honda with a kid, maybe four years old, planted  between the driver's arms, with a wife, infant in arms on the back. Headed straight into a three-way crunch with a minivan and a cycle. The minivan leaned on its horn, the cyclo and the Honda adjusted slightly, and miraculously all three passed through the bull's-eye unscathed. The flow did not pause.

"Amazing.

"...He was beginning to sense an underlying pattern to the rolling mayhem. Just had to knock his American road sense a little cock-eyed, recalibrate his vision a few degrees . . .

"An American would create instant carnage on the street. An American would want to know the rules so he could then measure himself against them, either obey or break them. At least test them. These people moved instinctively like water, all part of the same stream. Connected.

"...[He] glanced at his watch. "Ten minutes,: he said. 'Probably two thousand people on a thousand assorted means of transport went through this intersection -- no light, no signs, in constant motion and not one pile-up. Now I know why we lost the war.'

"'Bullshit,' said Trin dryly, 'accidents are common.'"

Chuck Logan, The Price of Blood, Harper Collins, New York, 1997