[Historical Note: The Red Tide was a revolutionary high school underground newspaper and youth organization that existed from 1971-1981. See: http://theredtide.wordpress.com/]
Red Tide, Vol. II, No. 4 [Issue #8], January-February 1973
Viet Nam for the Vietnamese
[By Michael Letwin]
The agreement by the U.S. to halt the bombing, and to withdraw remaining troops from southern Viet Nam, is a victory for the Vietnamese people. It is also a victory for the antiwar movement in this country and around the world. But U.S. intervention in Viet Nam is far from ended, and the conditions of the “peace treaty” cannot guarantee peace.
In the past few days, the media has tried very hard to convince the American people that the war in Viet Nam is over. If you happened to turn on the tube at the right moment, you may have caught a glimpse of a “peace” dove, or a minute of silence for “peace.”
All of this has left the impression that the war is over. But the accords do nothing to resolve the social, economic and political problems that have been the root of the war.
There is still fighting in Viet Nam. However, in order to understand why this fighting is going on, we must examine parts of this so-called “peace treaty”, and what must result from it.
Two Governments in South
Among other things, the “peace treaty” recognizes two administrations in southern Viet Nam. One is the Thieu dictatorship, which is a puppet of the United States. The other is the Provisional Revolutionary Government, a coalition of all forces that are fighting for Vietnamese independence, and for an end to U.S. domination. This group includes the National Liberation Front (Viet Cong).
The problem with this set-up is that these two administrations are diametrically opposed. The Thieu dictatorship represents almost no one in Viet Nam. It depends on U.S. dollars to pay its army, and for its materials, without which it could not survive a single day, as it enjoys no popular support. It serves the economic and political interests of the U.S.
With such different interests at heart, how can these two governments exist side by side? Well, as a result of this irreconcilable conflict, the two sides (or rather Thieu vs. the Vietnamese people) have been fighting each other in southern Viet Nam, after the treaty was signed.
Myth of Free Elections
There is no provision in the treaty which guarantees “free elections”. Kissinger says that this is to be worked out “between the two south Vietnamese parties”. But as we have seen in the past, Thieu doesn‘t like to chance loosing an election, and has therefore outlawed all opposition in previous times.
There is no reason to have the illusion that he will give up his power peacefully when defeated in an election. Thieu has also been arresting and assassinating all possible opposition that he can lay his hands on. The only way that this conflict can ultimately be resolved is by the military and political victory of one side over the other.
U.S. Bombs Cambodia, Laos
There is no peace in the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos. The L.A. Times on January 27th reported that the Pentagon was considering the “possibility” of bombing, as before, those two countries. And on NBC News, January 28th, it was announced that the U.S. is in fact bombing those countries at the present time. The liberation forces in both countries will still have to struggle to gain national independence for themselves.
POWs and Political Prisoners
The treaty contains a clause that says that POW’s must be released within 60 days, but makes no provision for the over 200,000 political prisoners in Thieu’s jails.
In their broad outlines, the accords do not end U.S. intervention in Viet Nam. U.S. forces will remain poised to defend the Saigon regime, even after U.S. forces are withdrawn from Viet Nam proper. B-52s and other aircraft will remain in Thailand, on aircraft carriers off the coast of Viet Nam, and on other Asian bases. Thousands of civilian “technicians” from the U.S. will be “advising” Thieu’s forces.
The U.S. will continue to pump massive aid to dictatorship. Washington will be permitted to maintain Thieu’s forces, including the world’s third largest air force. Many U.S. bases and much U.S. war material have been already turned over to the Saigon dictator.
And now the U.S. is holding a promised $2 billion to rebuild Viet Nam over the heads of the Vietnamese people in an effort to make sure that things go the way that the U.S. likes.
The War and Treaty in Reality
When the N.L.F. breaks the Treaty, if they haven’t already, they will have every right to. The N.L.F. has always waged guerrilla warfare in Viet Nam. It is the nature of their struggle. The N.L.F. would not have been able to wage guerrilla warfare now, or for the last decade, if they had not enjoyed popular support, precisely because to wage guerrilla warfare successfully, any guerrilla force must have food, shelter, and clothes, from the people of their country. The N.L.F. has always had it, because they have always waged guerrilla warfare successfully.
Guerrillas cannot operate unless they enjoy popular support of the people. When you come down to it, the reason that there were many My Lai’s, was because American forces knew damn well that the Vietnamese people support the N.L.F. [and] that mass murder was the only way that the American military could react — just like [it was] the only way the Nazis in World War II could react to the popular support of the Partisans.
So in the end, after years of mass murder by U.S. soldiers planes and bombs of the Vietnamese people, the Vietnamese people or the N.L.F. (they are the same) have every right to break the treaty to get the peace and independence they want, free of American intervention and dictators.
The American government has no right to negotiate a treaty because they have always been foreign invaders. Besides, ask any Native American — the American government never kept a treaty.
Nixon and Kissinger are trying to create an atmosphere of elation over the accords, claiming that the armistice justifies the murderous war that the U.S. has waged against the people of Viet Nam. This claim is utterly false. Washington’s aggression in Indochina is one of the greatest crimes ever against humanity.
No, the war is not over. It will not be as long as the American or U.S. backed dictators remain in power in Indochina. As long as the U.S. does not recognize that it has no right to impose anything on the people of Indochina, will there be no peace. And until U.S. forces cannot be sent in at the whims of the U.S., there can be no peace.
Someday, when there is peace, it will be because the U.S. is forced to get out and stay out of Indochina, with no strings attached.