Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Monday, January 10, 2005

what does "justified" mean?

Paul asked this question in a comment to a previous post:
Gerry, do you think the Vietnamese people were justified in using violence to expel the French and then in their resistance to the American/Australian/others occupation of their country? If you wouldn't mind, please start a new post in answer to this question, stating the reasons for your answer. I think many people would be interested in reading it. Take your time to do this, if you want to do it.
Shit, Paul... You don't ask much... OK...

(1) Were the Vietnamese people justified? Yes.

(2) Are there better/more enlightened methods? Yes.

But there is a problem with question (1), and it is the word "justified". Here we get tangled up in ideas of what is "right" and what is "wrong". Everyone has an ego, and every ego believes it is right. The ego can do no wrong - it is the nature of the ego. It is only when one thinks outside ego paradigms that is it possible to see other sides to issues.

Paul also asked for my reasons. OK, here goes:

Why were they justified? Firstly, I'll answer why they were justified to fight against the French:

In 1945, Ho Chi Minh allegedly wrote a letter to U.S. President Harry Truman:
DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:

Our VIETNAM people, as early as 1941, stood by the Allies' side and fought against the Japanese and their associates, the French colonialists.

From 1941 to 1945 we fought bitterly, sustained by the patriotism, of our fellow-countrymen and by the promises made by the Allies at YALTA, SAN FRANCISCO and POTSDAM.

When the Japanese were defeated in August 1945, the whole Vietnam territory was united under a Provisional Republican Government, which immediately set out to work. In five months, peace and order were restored, a democratic republic was established on legal bases, and adequate help was given to the Allies in the carrying out of their disarmament mission.

But the French Colonialists, who betrayed in wartime both the Allies and the Vietnamese, have come back, and are waging on us a murderous and pitiless war in order reestablish their domination. Their invasion has extended to South Vietnam and is menacing us in North Vietnam. It would take volumes to give even an abbreviated report of the crisis and assassinations they are committing everyday in this fighting area.

This aggression is contrary to all principles of international law and the pledge made by the Allies during World War II. It is a challenge to the noble attitude shown before, during, and after the war by the United States Government and People. It violently contrasts with the firm stand you have taken in your twelve point declaration, and with the idealistic loftiness and generosity expressed by your delegates to the United Nations Assembly, MM. BYRNES, STETTINIUS, AND J.F. DULLES.

The French aggression on a peace-loving people is a direct menace to world security. It implies the complicity, or at least the connivance of the Great Democracies. The United Nations ought to keep their words. They ought to interfere to stop this unjust war, and to show that they mean to carry out in peacetime the principles for which they fought in wartime.

Our Vietnamese people, after so many years of spoliation and devastation, is just beginning its building-up work. It needs security and freedom, first to achieve internal prosperity and welfare, and later to bring its small contribution to world-reconstruction.

These security and freedom can only be guaranteed by our independence from any colonial power, and our free cooperation with all other powers. It is with this firm conviction that we request of the United Sates as guardians and champions of World Justice to take a decisive step in support of our independence.

What we ask has been graciously granted to the Philippines. Like the Philippines our goal is full independence and full cooperation with the UNITED STATES. We will do our best to make this independence and cooperation profitable to the whole world.

I am, Dear Mr. PRESIDENT,

Respectfully Yours,

(Signed) Ho Chi Minh
This letter was never answered and was not declassified until 1972.

In the same year Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence:
All men are created equal; they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights; among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.
You'll no doubt recognise the words of the Declaration of Independence of the United States of America in 1776 - the justification used for the American War of Independence.

And the justification for the French Revolution in 1791 was that:
All men are born free and with equal rights, and must always remain free and have equal rights.
Ho Chi Minh justifiably claimed that these were "undeniable truths".

I think he justified his armed struggle for indpendence against the French very well.

The Americans and their allies were pure aggressors and therefore Ho Chi Minh had even greater justification for armed struggle against these mass-murdering mongrels (of which I was one).

All of this notwithstanding, there were better, more enlightened methods available to Ho Chi Minh, but given his time in history, he may be forgiven for not realising this. After all, Gandhi's work had yet to reach fruition in India.

But now, in 2005, we have many examples which show us that peaceful people power is a force no government or aggressor can stand against, especially if the eyes of the world can be kept on the struggle.

19 Comments:

Blogger 23asdf23 said...

It must have been really hard in the beginning for Ho Chi Minh to lead such a desperate fight against the French - everything I've read about him says he was a real Francophile before WWII, studying there, etc.

And, on the opposite hand, it would be really hard to justify an invasion of a non aggressive country like Vietnam.

Shall I pose another question for you Gerry, you being I image more qualified than any of us to answer - do you think Iraq really is turning into another Vietnam?

January 11, 2005 2:12 AM  
Blogger 23asdf23 said...

(that is "imagINe" of course)

January 11, 2005 2:14 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

"..hard to justify an invasion of a non aggressive country like Vietnam." Well, I'd say if the truth be known, a lot of Saddam's agression was US inspired. Rmember, the US was using Saddam to get at Iran (and a bit of divided-and-conquer stuff as well no doubt.) What about Kuwait, you say? I'd say it's entirely possible that Saddam sounded the Yanks out about that before doing it and the double-crossing bastards let him believe they wouldn't intervene and once he invaded they used this as an excuse to (a) flatten his army and (b) permanently establish themselves in the middle east big-time.

The Iraq/Vietnam comparison? I'm not really qualified. But I can see some parallels and some differences.

The Vietnamese were fighting their oppressors for thirty years whereas the Iraqis have so far only been fighting for three and a bit.

The Vietnamese insurgents were totally united nationalists where as Iraq is a manufactured country comprising Kurds, Shi-ites and Sunnis, each wanting autonomy for their own regions and these three groups don't really trust each other.

Vietnam was mostly jungle (good cover) whereas Iraq is mostly desert and open plains country, so in Vietnam the insurgents hid in the jungle and in Iraq they hide in the cities and towns.

In Vietnam the Yanks tried to destroy the jungle, leaving the ground and the people poisoned (agent orange), in Iraq they're destroying the cities and towns and leaving the ground and the people poisoned (depleted uranium and who knows what else.)

I think the Iraqi insurgents are idiots. The indiscriminant killing of civillians and the hostage taking is destroying any sympathy anyone might have had for their cause, and without broad international suppert they don't have a hope in hell. But it would be much worse for the world if the Yanks were to win and thus get away with this war crime.

On the hostage taking/killing thing, I sometimes wonder if these mysteriously invisible hostage takers aren't carefully staged CIA-run "black" ops designed to undermine support for the Iraqis and to vilify Islam but I'm wandering into the realm of conspiracy theory here.

January 11, 2005 8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Debating the ethics of the Vietnamese struggle for independence obscures one primary fact: the American war in Vietnam created the world we know today. Such is its importance that it created me and dare say it created you too Gerry. So there's not ,much room for hindsight. It's like trying to cut off a limb.

In the accompanying posts I bring the Vietnam war up to stream c/o Mike Karadgis.

January 11, 2005 12:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll be taking this issue up when I retrurn to my perosnal blog: The life of riley blog.

dave riley

----- Original Message -----
From: "dave_r_riley"

>Last week a report in the daily here referred to another similar
>incident and proffered the figure that 40,000 Vietnamerse had been
>killed by left-over =usually buried ordnance= since 1975.

About two years ago, the NGO Resource Centre in Hanoi put the figure at some 86,000 killed since the end of the war due to unexploded ordinance, and the figure is probably higher. That centre produces a newsletter summmarising news from the VN media, and literally every week there are still cases. I doubt a week has gone by when there has not been one. In the poor central
province of Quang Tri, over 50 percent of the land is unable to be used for agriculture due to the thickness of the stuff lying around.

>Despite the toll, and the despite the massive slaughter of the war
>years it's worthwhile noting that the US has refused to pay
>reparations to the Vietnamese people. In the light of the Tsunami
>tragedy and the shell out competition involved in way of aid
>this 'humanitarian oversight' on the US's and Australia's part is
>worth dredging up.

For everyone who is not yet aware of it, there is a legal action being taken by Vietnamese citizens on behalf of Agent Orange victims against 20 mor so
US chemical corporations, including Monsanto and Dow, in a US court. To support them there is a petiton on line at:

http://www.petitiononline.com/AOVN/petition.html

So far, some 670,000 people have signed the petiton on line, in addition to about 9 million Vietnmses who have signed on paper. I think everyone on this list should email the petition as widely as possible to anyone you know and build momentum, as a date has now been set for the case to begin, I think by next month.

MK

January 11, 2005 12:15 PM  
Blogger Noel Chrotsky said...

Thanks very much for that, Gerry. I agree with you, totally.

I think the only way to tell whether actions are justified or not is to apply the "do unto others..." (equality of treatment) principle. Of course, this requires that you imagine yourself in the position of others and give up all prejudices, such as racism and cultural supremacy and that you escape the ego paradigms, as you say.

This is damn near impossible for some people, unfortunately. - Well, no, I do think it is possible for everyone, however some of our current cultural values (devalues) sometimes makes it difficult.

Chomsky has a philosophy on the broader issue of power which sounds just about right to me:
---
"Anarchism, in my view, is an expression of the idea that the burden of proof is always on those who argue that authority and domination are necessary. They have to demonstrate, with powerful argument, that that conclusion is correct. If they cannot, then the institutions they defend should be considered illegitimate. How one should react to illegitimate authority depends on circumstances and conditions: there are no formulas.
---
Noam Chomsky on AnarchismI'd also add that the "powerful argument" must be based on the 'equality of treatment' principle.

January 11, 2005 6:57 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Dave/MK, thanks for the comment. I'll be signing the petition. I'll also make it a bogpost.

January 11, 2005 9:05 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Paul, yeah. Ego. It gets us all, all too often. My theory is, based on buddhism, that you only get beyond your ego when you get enlightened. So, I've got a long way to go. But in the meantime, at least I can tell (sometimes) when I'm off the planet feeding my ego.

About Chomsky and anarchism: I'm still trying to understand what anarchism is. It is grossly misunderstood by most people. This brings me back to the need for the left to educate the masses if it wants to be understood and preferred by the masses. This education process is the left's biggest challenge right now. e.g. People like me should have somewhere to go to sit in on free lectures/classes/courses to find out about all of this shit. It does no good at all if this knowledge/understanding is restricted to the rarified atmosphere of intellectuals like Chomsky and a few intellectuals. If it doesn't make it to the grass roots, it's worthless. And to get to the grass roots, it's got to be presented in a way they can understand. That's the job facing the left.

January 11, 2005 10:39 PM  
Blogger Noel Chrotsky said...

I was thinking the same thing just yesterday, Gerry. When people think "anarchist", they think a bunch of crazed rioters destroying anything and everything in their path. And what of the Greens; they're "watermelons", faking an interest in trees, but diehard Stalinists underneath or so the absurd stereotypes goes. A lot of this has to do with mass media which supports a very narrow ideological view, one that it is usually in the interests of their owners, but this is just an excuse used by the Left to do nothing about the problem. It's the Left's problem, you cannot expect Murdoch & Co. not to act in their best interests, so like you said, we need to educate and get our alternative views out there.

The Left in America is starting to get their act together, finally (some web sites below). I dare say that they need to do a lot more. However, the Left in Australia, where are they? The Unions are starting to organise themselves better now, although I doubt this would have occured unless their was an extreme need to do so. But, the rest of the Left? Pretty sad. I guess we're just not desperate enough yet, which is a real shame because Australians really need viable alternatives at this time.

Anyway, I'll be doing all I can to help. I'm going to research to see what Australian 'Left' forums are out there as part of my New Year's resolution and will report later today.

American Left folk
-------------------
http://www.changethis.com/
http://www.rockridgeinstitute.org/
http://standupdemocrats.org/
http://www.politicalstrategy.org/

January 13, 2005 12:44 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Yes, Paul, I think the left has a huge communication problem. It must sort it out and sort it out fast. But first it must unite on what it sees as the most urgent issues and how they should be dealt with. Factions are more interested in being politically "precious" than seeing the power in solidarity.

Personally, I take the position that if they don't see the value of an absolute commitment to pacifism, they can rot in the political hell of their own making (and they will) and I will have nothing to do with them.

I applaud your personal commitment to explore these issues.

Thanks for those links. I've linked to Rockridge and politicalstrategy.org.

I didn't link to the Democrats for the same reason I ignore Labor, because at the end of the day they bow and scrape to the Big Business, and the WTO, and in Labor's case I add the US to this list.

And I didn't link to changethis because their website design pisses me right off. It's virtually a disaster area.

January 13, 2005 9:50 PM  
Blogger Noel Chrotsky said...

You're right again, Gerry. I've been swayed by what you've said about pacifism and think it should even form part of the official platforms of all Left parties. I also think they should more prominently commit to democracy and improving democracy. I imagine the two would go hand and hand. For instance, Australia would never have gotten into the Iraq war if the people's wishes were represented (76 percent were Australians are against military action without UN endorsement). Another reason for the Left to commit to pacifism is the Right's willingness to invoke Stalin, Mao, etc. in ad hominem attacks against it. I'd say less than 1% of the Left agree with Stalin or Mao's program, but that doesn't stop the rest of us being slurred with it. An unbreakable commitment to pacifism would stop such right-wing propaganda in its tracks.

No worries about not linking to the Dems. I support Labor only because they are the lesser evil. I don't think their program before the last election was too bad. Children out of detention, no Iraq war without UN approval (of course, UN approval still doesn't justify war), saving the Tassie rainforests, Kyoto committment and ... I can't think of much else. They are just as bad or nearly as bad as the alternative on most other matters. Unfortunately, with our system of Parliamentary representation it's either B1 or B2 and I feel pressure at the end of the day to support Labor as much as I can (and shift it to the Left), otherwise I feel somewhat responsible for the greater evil coming to power. This might not make a lot of sense and I guess a better way to support the things I believe in would be to escape the party system and put pressure on all parties externally. However, with the absence of any major 'Left movement', I don't know where to turn to.

January 15, 2005 11:55 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Paul, Labor won't commit to pacifism. Labor sold us out to the Yanks by not blocking the FTA out of hand. When the WTO says "jump", Labor asks "how high?" Labor gave us the Gulf War and our participation in the murderous ten year blockade of Iraq that followed. Labor is too committed to do "whatever it takes" to get elected which means a clear and unequivocal stand for pacifism (and a lot of other issues) is out of the question. Pragmatism always excuses war, and sometimes even advocates it, and Labor has made pragmatism its favourite buzzword. Labor has lost the plot as far as I'm concerned, but then again, it's a verifiable fact that I've lost the plot too.

You need to factor into your chosen political path the sad possibility that pacifism may never become majorly popular in this Anzac nation and that pacifists are easily dismissed as cranks, idealists, cowards, traitors, or even Asio agents provocateur - anything that will discredit them.

You see, Paul, pacifism is a dangerous concept to those baying for blood and therefore it must be undermined. You will be sorely tempted to give in to The Dork Side Of The Farce, my son... :-)

January 18, 2005 1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DS - Today I found this portion of a speech made by Martin Luther King Jr. during the Vietnam War:

...Perhaps the more tragic recognition of reality took place when it became clear to me that the war was doing far more than devastating the hopes of the poor at home. It was sending their sons and their brothers and their husbands to fight and to die in extraordinarily high proportions relative to the rest of the population. We were taking the black young men who had been crippled by our society and sending them eight thousand miles away to guarantee liberties in Southeast Asia which they had not found in southwest Georgia and East Harlem. So we have been repeatedly faced with the cruel irony of watching Negro and white boys on TV screens as they kill and die together for a nation that has been unable to seat them together in the same schools. So we watch them in brutal solidarity burning the huts of a poor village, but we realize that they would never live on the same block in Detroit. I could not be silent in the face of such cruel manipulation of the poor....

As I have walked among the desperate, rejected and angry young men I have told them that Molotov cocktails and rifles would not solve their problems. I have tried to offer them my deepest compassion while maintaining my conviction that social change comes most meaningfully through nonviolent action. But they asked -- and rightly so -- what about Vietnam? They asked if our own nation wasn't using massive doses of violence to solve its problems, to bring about the changes it wanted. Their questions hit home, and I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent....

MLK Jr.

"When will we ever learn....."

January 19, 2005 11:02 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

When, indeed, DS.

January 19, 2005 1:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would it be considered violence if we dumped Bush, Cheney, Rumsfield, Rice, Powell, Ashcroft, et al, in the middle of the Simpson without food and water? Oh yea, no maps, matches, torch, etc. Oops, I forgot Blair and Howard.

DS

January 20, 2005 12:16 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Do it via international law. And when the guilty bastards are found guilty, lock 'em up in one those detention centres where Howard kept the assylum seekers.
Nauru sounds good...

January 20, 2005 1:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DS: Found this in my files:

"I am not taking sides."1 --Secretary of State James Baker offering an apparent rationalization for Iraq's use of chemical weapons against Kuwait.

...Iraq invaded Kuwait and George Bush readied for combat once again. He spewed a slew of tenuous rationales for the massive U.S. buildup, but as can be expected when George Bush is involved, there was more to the story than presented for public consumption. The earliest clues appeared on October 21, 1990, two and half months into the "Gulf Crisis," when the London Observer featured a special investigative report suggesting that Bush encouraged Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to attack Kuwait.
Earlier in the year, according to the Observer, Bush sent a secret envoy to meet with one of Saddam's top officials. The envoy told the dictator's confidant "that Iraq should engineer higher oil prices to get it out of its dire economic fix," wrote the English paper. The story appeared nowhere that I ever saw in the American media.
Saddam took the envoy's advice, moving his troops to the border of Kuwait. U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad April Glaspie told Saddam, "We don't have an opinion on inter-Arab border disputes such as your border dispute with Kuwait."
"The evidence suggests that U.S. complicity with Saddam went far beyond miscalculation of the Iraqi leader's inventions," wrote Observer reporter Helga Graham. The leaked documents on which she based her piece "have built up a picture of active support for the U.S. president."2

"In the fall of 1989, at a time when Iraq's invasion of Kuwait was only nine months away and Saddam Hussein was desperate for money to buy arms," [Murray] Wass and collaborator Douglas Frantz wrote, "President Bush signed a top-secret National Security Decision directive ordering closer ties with Baghdad and opening the way for $1 billion in new aid."
The Waas-Frantz exclusive revealed at pattern of Bush's support for Saddam dating back to Bush's vice-presidential days an and running practically until the moment of Iraq's invasion. "As late as July 1990, one month before Iraq's troops stormed into Kuwait City, officials at the National Security Council and the State Department were pushing to deliver the second installment of the $1 billion in loan guarantees," the article said.
Two years before the invasion, at a time when (according to Waas's reporting) Bush would have been meeting with Iraqi officials and pressuring American banks to fork over the money for Saddam, Peter Dale Scott wrote an article for Pacific News Service detailing Bush's role in an international oil-price rigging scheme. The story was named one of the year's ten best "censored" stories by "Project Censored," an annual competition to recognize important stories that the big media skip, spike, or suppress. On the sands of Saudi Arabia, the petroleum president was at work once more.3

We [Metro] ran a piece by Village Voice reporter Murray Wass detailing how [April] Glaspie's attitude toward Iraq's "border dispute" with Kuwait was hardly an anomaly. In the months leading up to the invasion, administration officials repeatedly swore off use of force against Iraq. Secretary of State James Baker even went so far as to offer what sounded like a rationalization for Iraqi use of chemical weapons. He reported to a Senate committee Saddam Hussein's explanation that chemical weapons were his only deterrent against nuclear attack.
"I am not taking sides," said Baker -- an astonishing statement in in light of the events that followed. "I am just stating that."
Metro also ran my little story about how Silicon Valley's original high-tech company, Hewlett-Packard, sold computers to Iraq knowing that they would be used in ballistic missile development. Numerous U.S. companies, I reported, sold military technology to Iraq right up until the international embargo came down after the invasion of Kuwait. German corporations were far worse offenders. Those companies under the jurisdiction of America's close ally were directly responsible for Iraq's chemical weapon-making ability.
Was Bush deliberately trying to get the U.S. into a war, to satisfy yet another cryptic agenda? Waas wrote off the Bushian pro-Iraq stance as a diplomatic blunder, albeit one of history's worst. Perhaps so. The Vietnam war was half-a-decade old when the Pentagon Papers leaked out to confirm what a sizable segment of the country suspected: the administration's public reasons for throwing the coutnry into that war were simply [a] sham.
Perhaps someday a "Pentagon Papers II" will appear, exposing how the country was fooled into the Persian Gulf war. I rather doubt it, however. Whatever his reasons for risking thousands of American lives (and talking thousands of Iraqi lives, including innumerable civilians) he is managing the war-propaganda well. The press is tightly controlled and seems to accept its bitter medicine with disturbing calm. Even enthusiasm. Meanwhile, Bush beats away on his theme of us against him, Saddam Hussein. It's the U.S. against a lone nut. How strangely fitting.4

1Jonathan Vankin, Conspiracies, Cover-Ups and Crimes --From JFK to the Terrorist Connection (1992): 245, emphasis mine.
2Ibid., 241.
3Ibid., 242., emphasis mine.
4Ibid., 245-246, emphasis mine.

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." --George Santayana

Page summary by Lori Price
General Manager
Citizens For Legitimate Government
http://www.legitgov.org/

August 22, 2004

I first heard about U.S. Ambassador to Baghdad April Glaspie's tacit okay to invade Kuwait when I was still living in Oz.

January 24, 2005 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Between October 1945 & February 1946, Ho Chi Minh wrote 8 letters to Harry 'Mass Murderer' Truman. He never replied.

And yes, the Vietnamese were justified in using violence just as the Russians were against the Germans, the native Americans were against the first white settlers. I wish nonviolence worked, but it doesn't. You can't reason with bullies; you can't wait for them to change because they won't. The only thing they respect is greater force! Gandhi was murdered and India still has a caste system; MLK was murdered and American blacks still can't vote. Aborigines are still second class citizens living in poverty as are most native Americans. Three quarters of the world still lives and dies in poverty and we act as though it was their fault.

DS

February 10, 2005 12:58 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Comments on this post are now closed.

Debate continued here

February 10, 2005 5:51 PM  

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