Ambrosio R. Villorente
The American Intervention In Vietnam
United States government involved herself in Vietnam because US leaders thought communist was going to win in Vietnam. The US was heavily committed to stop the communist advances in other parts of the world such as in Korea. China turned communist in 1949. Hence, North Vietnam communist might overpower South Vietnam. That induced the United States to intervene in South Vietnam.
After World War II, the US has military bases in 56 countries including the Philippines located in Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, and Baguio City. As victors of the war, US society believed America can make the world safe for American influence and American businesses. They thought their way of life was better than others. Americans talked of freedom, sponsored democracy and sometimes sponsored dictators when the occasion demanded and for their own interest. Americans advocate human rights and even questions other nations for violation of human rights. But actually, there is more freedom and human rights in others countries like the Philippines than in the United States of America.
The US society is supporting the wealthy, the big businessmen, the real estate people, the capitalists. And these were contrary to the problems of the Vietnamese who fought the landlords, the bureaucracy who welded huge powers and used against the peasants. They fought the French colonial government and the Vietnamese peasants won. The French left Vietnam in 1954 after a century of exploitation and domination.
Entrance of USA
John F. Kennedy became US president in January 1961. By this period, communist North Vietnam was advancing to the South, took control of some provincial capitals.
Washington reacted. It sent 3,200 American troops, increased to 16,300 in 1962 aided by planes, bombs, and chemicals.
But in 1965 the Vietnamese guerrillas reached 250,000. The South Vietnamese Army fought less and less. The US supported Diem government which was becoming isolated. Gen. Nguyen Van Thieu in a US supported coup became president of Vietnam.
Roman Catholic Vietnamese protested against the war, the monks were against the war. They demonstrated their objection, they poured kerosene to their bodies and burn themselves. They wanted peace and neutrality. Their war was a land war and it was a war by the peasants against the landlords; war of the poor against the rich.
There was presidential election in the US and one of the issues raised was US intervention in Vietnam. Any victory for the national liberation front in Vietnam would be a defeat for American power.
In 1965, Pres. Lyndon Johnson gave in to his advisers. The US sent in the Marines, and other troops which reached 500,000 soldiers. The US government persuaded the governments of Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and the Philippines to send troops to Vietnam to fight by the US side. The Philippines sent 1,500 peace keeping team.
But by 1965, the insurrection had won the support of the people in the villages who believed the war is over land ownership and never against American imperialism. The Americans believed a defeat in Vietnam would weaken Anti Communism in America.
So the US bombed both South and North Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. The planes dropped 8 million tons of explosives which were equal to 640 of the atom bomb dropped in Hiroshima, Japan. Some 8,000 Americans and 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died. The Viet Cong and civilians who died were estimated to be two million. The US planes had bombed 391 schools and practically levelled all targets in North Vietnam.
The US lost 3,719 planes and 4,859 helicopters as for every 40 flights, one plane was shot down, American crew members who ejected from their planes were jailed in "Hanoi Hilton" as prisoners of war.
The ground fighting won the war for the Vietnamese though they were ill equipped. The local people supported the guerrillas who almost always decided the times and places of battles as 15 to 20 percent of US soldiers killed died of friendly fire. Some 20 – 30 percent died when they stepped on mines.
The next and last column will discuss how the Vietnamese defeated the United States of American and her humiliating exit. /MP