Synopsis of the Vietnam War
Nghia M. Vo
         The Vietnam War, in fact, is a series of wars waged by Hồ Chí Minh's communists against different countries at various periods of the twentieth century to impose their hegemony over the IndoChinese peninsula. An understanding of the different phases of the war allows readers to grasp its full meaning.

         Arguments have been raised in the early 1900s as who would best represent Vietnam to force the French out of the country. Local nationalist fighters included the two Phan (unrelated): Phan Bồi Châu and Phan Châu Trinh and other political parties (Đại Việt, Việt Nam Quốc Dân Đảng, and so on). Hồ Chí Minh and his communist party later managed to get rid of (communist euphemism for killing) the nationalist parties, fought the French and took over North Vietnam (first Indochina War: 1945-1954). The remaining nationalists under Ngô Đình Diệm wrestled the South out of the French's clutch to form the Republic of Vietnam.

         South Vietnam, as a state, has existed separately from North Vietnam since 1600, date when Lord Nguyen Hoang a pretender to the northern throne relinquished his rights in order to build a southern empire. Without him, there would not have been any South Vietnam. North and South fought against each other from 1627 to 1672 (the real FIRST Vietnam war) and evolved separately from 1600 to 1802. Following a short reunification (1802-1868), it was again divided during the French conquest (1868-1954) and during the North and South war (1954-1975). Southerners have evolved differently than northerners from the cultural, political, economic, and military aspects. Their nationalism was based on Vietnamese-ness and is much older than communism, which is a recently imported western (Russian) ideology--completely foreign to Vietnam.

         The fight to rid Vietnam of the French became a war to control the whole country and to represent Vietnam, pitting communists against nationalists, northerners against southerners, Chinese-and Russian-backed northerners against American-backed southerners. The 21-year war (second Indochina War: 1954-1975), which culminated in an all-out invasion of the South--Hồ and his Party are responsible for their belligerent action--ended the burgeoning southern republic and ushered the dawn of a socialist state that took revenge on the defeated South. The South Vietnamese correctly labeled this stage of the war, the Anti-communist War.

         Then came the reeducation camps, the flight of the boat people, the enslavement of southerners, the confinement to economic zones, the killing of thousands of people through starvation, denial of jobs and food, the confiscation of private properties and business, poverty, misery, famine, loss of civil rights and religious freedom, and the looting of the South. Southerners became prisoners in their own country. In the meantime, the belligerent communists pushed their way into Cambodia to complete their hegemony (they had already controlled Laos) then fought against the Chinese (third IndoChina War).

         The war, which has caused so much bloodshed took a new turn after 1975: peace led to economic deprivation for southerners, loss of private properties and civil rights. Dispossessed southerners eked out a miserable life by selling their belongings (motorcycles, bikes, TV sets, radios, jewelries...) to northerners who hauled everything back to the North. They congregated at unofficial places called chợ trời (open-air market) to sell and/or trade basic necessities, which were not even available in government stores. They disbanded and ran away when công an (police) arrived only to regroup once the latter had moved out. Medications, goods sent by Việt Kiều to their families in Vietnam and contraband merchandises from Thailand, Taiwan by way of Cambodia were sold on the market for food or cash. On the agricultural side, southern peasants and landlords resisted collectivization. They destroyed equipments and killed their cattle rather than handing them over to collective farms.

        Please read the rest of the story in WAR AND REMEMBERANCE.