Now, when the USA is actively getting ready for a war against Iraq, it is not out of place to remember another war that America carried out in South Eastern Asia, in Vietnam to be exact, for several years. As is known, UN inspectors must deliver a report on Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction on January 27, 2003. However, this day is also a historic date: an amicable treaty was concluded in Paris 30 years ago, that in fact meant the USA was beaten in the Vietnam war.
In 1969 Richard Nixon was elected president of America. He came to power as a result of anti-war demonstrations, and consequently he couldn’t avoid mentioning the Vietnam war. By the way, Richard Nixon mentioned in one of the key items of his pre-election campaign that he had a solution for an adequate cessation of the war in Vietnam. However, Phillip Davidson in his book “Vietnam at War” says that Nixon had no plan at all. There was some general conception suggested by National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger. The main point of the conception was as follows: 1. The strategy of war of attrition proved ineffective and incapable of resulting in victory.
2. At best, we should stop increasing US’s military presence in Vietnam.
3. We must certainly use diplomatic methods to put an end to the war.
4. There are three conditions to make diplomatic negotiations concerning the war a success:
a. The USA and Hanoi must conclude an agreement on fire cessation and on mutual withdrawal of troops. b. The government of South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu and the National Liberation Front of Vietkong must reach an agreement on political settlement of the conflict. c. It is necessary to organize an international conference to develop guarantees and security measures significant for realization of the mutual agreements.
5. The USA must gradually shift the still increasing responsibility for military operations onto the South Vietnamese government.
6. The following measures must accompany the negotiations:
a. losses in the US Army must be reduced; b. population of South Vietnam must be protected; c. fighting efficiency of the armed forces of South Vietnamese government is to be increased; d. government of South Vietnam must be consolidated. We can hardly say that Kissinger’s conception and the plan aimed at US’s pulling out from the war were immediately realized in practice. That was for several reasons; the key problem was that the US Administration doubted very much that government of South Vietnam would be able to retain the power without support of the US Army. Basically, suggestions by Henry Kissinger were taken as a basis, but realization of the suggestions took several years.
As a result of realization of the suggestions, Paris Treaty of 1973 was concluded. In accordance with the Treaty, the USA was obliged to respect independence and territorial integrity of Vietnam; America was also to withdraw the troops from South Vietnam within 60 days and to dismantle all military bases at that.
However, the war was over for Vietnam only in two years, when Southern capital Saigon was seized by rebels and North Vietnamese army.
The defeat in the Vietnam war gave birth to a phenomenon which was later called in the USA “a Vietnamese syndrome.” The syndrome affected not only ordinary participants of the hostilities in Vietnam, but also powers-that-be in Washington. At least, there was some period within which the White House was much more cautious with use of military force; it ventured to do it only in such unprotected countries as Grenada.
But the situation changed after the Desert Storm in 1991, after the operation that was rather successful. The blare of the trumpets in America gave rise to talks saying that the USA got rid of “the Vietnamese syndrome”. To all appearance, Washington politicians actually got rid of the syndrome. At least, former American president Bill Clinton and incumbent president George W. Bush have nothing to compare with, they successfully avoided military service in Vietnam. For this very reason there is no need for them to mention that 58 thousand Americans were killed in the Vietnam war, let alone one million of Vietnamese (by the way, other sources report the number of Vietnamese victims made up 3 million people).
Certainly, Iraq isn’t Vietnam, a war won’t last there for more than several months. What is more, strategists from the Pentagon have already learnt some lessons and now stake at blitzkriegs. So, even if this war in Iraq will draw out (like it was in Afghanistan), we will never know this, because censorship is actually very strong.
So, we once again understand that the proverb is right when it says: “History testifies that its lessons are never effective for anyone.”
Vasily Bubnov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://world.pravda.ru/world/2003/5/15/41/6147_VietnamWar.html
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