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Two Wars' Ends

It hadn't previously occurred to me that the fall of Saigon, thirty years ago today, was in turn almost exactly three decades after the fall of Berlin and the end of the war in Europe, six decades ago.

Quite a contrast in American power. The fall of Saigon was a post-war low point for American foreign policy, but it didn't end there--in many ways it was a prelude to the greater humiliation of the Iran hostage crisis, and a long string of shows of American weakness in the face of new confrontations by the new totalitarians--the Beirut barracks bombing, the foolish overtures to the mullahs in Iran/Contra, the pullout in Somalia, the ineffectual responses by the Clinton administration--that eventually culminated in the destruction of the twin towers.

As Glenn points out, many (though of course not all) critics of US policy would be happy to see Americans standing on the roof of a Baghdad embassy, being evacuated by helicopters, in renewed joy at our comeuppance, like that of thirty years ago, in thinking that we could defend the world against those who despise western notions of freedom. I hope (and in fact think) that due to our wakeup call almost four years ago, our resolve will prove more durable today, mirroring that of sixty years ago, rather than thirty.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 30, 2005 07:43 AM
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It's bullshit like this that reminds me why I don't come to this site that much.

Basically to paraphrase what you are saying here Rand:

As Glenn points out, most critics of US policy would be happy to see Americans getting their comeuppance, and all because we think that American freedoms are more important than foreigh freedoms. We must get ourselves together to oppose all the Nazi-like people that oppose us.

It's very rough, but that seems to be more or less what you are saying.

Whereas what Glenn Reynolds actually said:

"REMEMBERING THE FALL OF SAIGON: And remember, too, that there are some people here who would like to see the same thing happen in Iraq."

Which is rather more reasonable.


Posted by Ian Woollard at April 30, 2005 10:25 AM

IN NPR's coverage of the anniversary today, they quoted a NVA communist celebrating the victory and saying that the South Vietnamism had nothing to fear, and it was simply a victory over the US.

There was no other context given in the story.

I guess that means that communist vietnam is/was all peaches and cream once the communists took over.

That is Bullsh1t.

Posted by at April 30, 2005 11:12 AM

No, Ian. We think that freedom is more important than totalitarianism, unless by "foreign freedoms" you mean the freedom to enslave women, and imprison people for worshiping the wrong god. But I wouldn't expect you to understand.

Posted by Rand Simberg at April 30, 2005 12:01 PM

"The atrocities of My Lai would pale in comparison to the atrocities wrought when the North finally gained control of the South. In the purge that followed, more than 80,000 would be systematically tracked down and summarily executed by the new regime. Hundreds of thousands more would be sent to 're-education camps' where they would languish for years in virtual slavery. So this was the 'better life' that so many said the Communists would bring to the people of South Vietnam."

Robert E. Wheatley, "Witnessing the Death of a Nation - The Fall of Saigon" (source)

(Quote appears in my own blog's commemoration of the event. I was going to post a pic of the helicopter evacuation, but decided to put up the South Vietnamese flag instead cuz they're the main story, not us.)

Posted by Alan K. Henderson at April 30, 2005 04:10 PM

I'm sorry to say, "American weakness" continues. Not to take anything away from our troops- who are doing the best they can- but face it: we're supposed to be 'the most powerful nation on earth' and it's taking us over two years (and probably over eight years when all is done) to invade a country not much bigger than Texas. The implication here: if Texas were to seceed from the union and the Feds declared war to bring them back in line.... Texas would have a good chance of winning.

Posted by DC at May 3, 2005 07:32 PM

I am amazed by almost all of the MSM and blog commentary about the Fall of Saigon. I have seen no mention of the three most important facts about it:

1. It happened AFTER the the US withdrew its ground forces. There was not ONE US brigade, battalion or campany-sized unit on the ground. All those folks in the helos were Military Assisstance and they worked for the Ambassador.

2. North Vietnam BROKE its peace traty with the US by invading the South. Tricky Dick should have been impeached for failing to react to an Act of War on the North's part.

3. The US embassy fell to T-59 tanks and uniformed regular infantry - NO guerrillas anywhere. [Another Myth shot to hell]

Not one mention of any of these topics - not even on the vaunted FOX News. They kept talking about the Runaway Bride for 5 days, though!

The Central Lesson of the Civil War, WWII, and Vietnam remains: "The character of the top leaders determines the outcome of war more than all other factors combined. There is no advantage so great that poor leadership & bad strategy cannot squander utterly." The US army of 1861-1863, the German Army of 1942-1945 and the US Army of 1965-1970 learned that lesson all too well.

Posted by OldFan at May 7, 2005 09:46 PM

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