The Iraq situation seems not to be improving. Personally, I feel that the US shouldn’t have invaded Iraq. Since it has, I feel the best way to stabilize the region is with massive, huge, overly overwhelming troop deployment – no point in doing things half-heartedly with a handful of soldiers.
And the selfish foreign-imported b*stards who keep attacking/bombing/riling-up the locals should stop being so damn prideful, and let the poor Iraqis have a decent chance at rebuilding. So America is wrong to invade Iraq… Does it mean you have to kill more Iraqis and ruin their lives to prove your point?! Who is the aggressor now?
As the US invasion and occupation of Iraq drags on, grim and bloody, the critical media delights in comparing it to the Vietnam War – a conflict entrenched in popular culture as America’s most shameful failure that should never have been undertaken.
A little background: The Vietnam War lasted from 1959 to 1975. Basically, the North Vietnamese Communist regime attempted to conquer and assimilate Southern Vietnam. The US sought to stem the spread of Communism and sent its troops into Vietnam.
After many long, hard years of fighting and many casualties, the US finally decided to pull out. The Communists soon took over all of Vietnam. The US media was said to be instrumental in influencing the US government to retreat – the war was portrayed as meddling in the affairs of a foreign country and sending young Americans to die for no reason.
But was it really such a needless conflict and a tragic disaster? Should the US just have kept its nose out of sovereign Vietnamese affairs? I for one don’t think so. We of Southeast Asia should be exceedingly thankful and grateful to the Americans who sacrificed their time, resources and blood in Vietnam. Here’s why…
The North Vietnamese attempt to take over South Vietnam was just one of the many Communist movements during the height of the Communist Era. One of America’s reasons for intervening in that ‘civil conflict’ was to stem the tide and spread of Communism in the region.
Which region? Our Southeast Asia.
Imagine if the US had not gotten involved in Vietnam and there was no Vietnam War. The South Vietnamese would have been overrun much sooner. What would the Communist Vietcong have done then? They would have continued their expansion by aggression to neighbouring countries. That means Laos, Cambodia and Thailand.
In fact, that what’s Communist Vietnam actually did immediately after uniting Vietnam, they invaded and occupied Laos in 1978 after tension with Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge. Another infamous bunch of mass murderers, btw.
If Communist Vietnam had been successful and no outside forces intervened, then they would have launched their brutal campaign a decade earlier. After Thailand it would be on to Malaysia and Singapore. Even if it didn’t manage to totally conquer the nothern Southeast Asian countries, that doesn’t mean we in the south would be safe and unaffected.
We all remember the Malayan Emergency and how much grief the Communist insurgents caused Malaya. Meanwhile, Singapore had to deal with a Communist Party that was competing for mass popular support. Indonesia almost fell to a Communist coup in 1965.
If Communist Vietnam had emerged victorious over non-Communist South Vietnam and gone on, unopposed, to attack the neighboring states, Communist movements in Southeast Asia would have been given a tremendoes boost. Communism would have been seen as the way of the future.
Communist supporters would be inspired and encouraged to keep up the insurgency in Malaya, prolonging the Emergency. Singaporeans who had been non-committal would have been drawn to the Communist party which had the winning ideology. Indonesia might have never have had a successful counter-coup by the non-Communists.
We would be Communist or surrounded by Communist regimes today.
Hmm… Would that be bad? Well, just compare North and South Korea today. North Korea has been ruled by iron-fisted Communism from 1945 and is one of the most backward and underdeveloped nations today. South Korea grew in democracy and freedom and produces some of the best computer-gamers in the world (woot!).
Looking to history, North Korea launched an attack on the South in 1950, which became the Korean War. The US aided South Korea in repulsing this attack – had it not, there would only be one single, Communist Korea today. That would mean no gosu Starcraft champions to compete against.
And make no mistake – Modern day Vietnam is still recovering from its ill-fated affair with Communism. But because America intervened to stop (or at least slow down) the Communist ravagers for decades, the rest of us were given a chance to develop our economies and modernize.
Where would Malaysia’s Wawasan 2020 be if we had gotten mired in our own Cultural Revolution? How could Singapore have reached First-World status if its population had been decimated by a Great Leap Forward? How would the region fare with an expansionist Indonesian version of the USSR? Konfrontasi and East Timor would have been just the beginning.
The same could be said of the Invasion of Iraq. Ann Coulter states her view in this article that the US occupation of Iraq has diverted most of the terrorist efforts to that region. One effect of this is that there have been no terror attacks on American soil since 9-11. The troops in Iraq are drawing all the flak.
Similarly, the Vietnam War, American troops in South Korea and other US forces in Southeast Asia to guard against Communist influence (including China and the Soviet Union) kept the Communists busy and drew away their attacks. The US paid the price for this role of big-brother protector with American lives, and received not a single Sen in compensation from us… Only derision and comdemnation.
They paid the price for Southeast Asia.
So for those of us in this corner of the world at least, the Vietnam War was not an unmitigated disaster… But the hope of a peaceful life. And for this, we are thankful.
UPDATE: After having visited the former North Vietnam on vacation, I can attest to how much the country has been impoverished and set back by decades of Communism. Just compare South Korea to North Korea and you can get a pretty good idea of the end results of capitalism vs communism.