Written: July 14, 1972
Source: Militant, July 14, 1972
Transcritpion: Nick 2008
Markup: Niklas 2008
The Vietnam War is the most barbarous in the bloodstained story of imperialism. The strongest military and economic power in the history of the world, America, has been waging war against a small, largely peasant people, for more than 12 years.
In the ferocious desire to gain victory they have escalated every aspect of the war in turn. At one time there were nearly 600,000 American and allied troops in Vietnam. They have killed over 2 million Vietnamese, nearly 1 in 17 of the population of S. Vietnam and N. Vietnam together.
The United States has been spending over £9,000 million a year on the Vietnam War alone, more than three times the entire military budget of British capitalism. They have used the most diabolical weapons in the history of war. Even if one includes the nuclear bombs used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The saturation bombing of North Vietnam amounts to the same tonnage as used in the atomic bombs. In total the explosives dropped on Vietnam North and South amount to 1,000 Hiroshimas.
More bombs have been dropped on a country not much bigger than Great Britain than were dropped on all the belligerents taken together in the Second World War.
Since the spring of 1971, "Noxious" herbicides have been banned. "Only" herbicides used in the United States have been permitted! Such is the "generosity" of the American President's instructions, after protests from all over the world.
Despite these horrific tools of war and the arming of the South Vietnamese with the most modern weapons they have been unable to stand against the forces of the National Liberation Front in the South and the North Vietnamese soldiers. Only the command of the air and the most ferocious bombing of troops and civilians alike, North and South, have saved the puppet regime of Thieu from complete collapse in the recent offensive.
On paper, the South Vietnamese possess an army of 481,000 regulars and 705,000 paramilitary forces. The N.L.F. is estimated at 140,000 and the North Vietnamese troops including those used in the fighting taking place now at not more than 200,000!
In numbers, the South Vietnamese forces are overwhelmingly superior. But the troops have no morale. They have no interest in fighting for the corrupt Landlord-Capitalist regime.
It is unprecedented in modern war for a numerically inferior force to gain such successes as the capture of Quang Tri and even the stalemate at An Loc and Kontum, without air cover and against bigger contingents of troops, backed by the devastating and malevolent use of air power.
The reason for the fleeing of practically the entire civilian population from the besieged cities is not fear of the Vietcong but fear of the reprisal bombing of the American air forces, which has reduced whole cities to rubble.
Even Marshal Ky, the admirer of Hitler, when he tried to put forward a candidature in the abortive presidential "election" last year pointed out that South Vietnam was a "society fraught with unprecedented injustice and corruption while the soldiers, the civil servants and the underprivileged citizens are condemned to a life of destitution."
These demagogic words fell on deaf ears. President Thieu organised a one candidate "election" with the backing of the generals, landlords and capitalists.
Without American backing his regime would not last a week. In the rural areas in this plebiscitary farce he received 99.7% of the vote for an already decided election! Like the votes of Hitler, obtained by terror and fear it was meaningless. As soon as the N.L.F. forces arrive, the peasants rise against their landlord oppressors and welcome the forces of liberation.
It is clear that the "pacification" of the rural areas, such as the Mekong Delta has collapsed. Occupying American troops and the terror and torture by the forces of Thieu, carefully weeding out and screening all the forces of resistance, partially succeeded over years of repression in cowing and holding down the peasants. This has disappeared in the last few months. That can be the only justification for the North Vietnamese offensive, in face of American air superiority.
But the American imperialists are desperately trying to force a compromise by their brutal bombing of the North. One of their generals declared that they would "bomb North Vietnam into the stone age". They are systematically trying to destroy all economic life. They have been tampering with the weather and trying to flood certain areas and according to the North Vietnamese government are bombing the dykes which could lead to large scale flooding and the loss of millions of lives if they destroy the dyke system.
This was one of the war crimes in Holland for which the Nazis were charged in Nuremburg after the Second World War.
Nixon, the representative of American imperialism has been compelled to withdraw nearly all American ground combat troops because of the opposition of the troops themselves. In 1970 there were officially listed 271 "Fragmentation cases", hand grenades thrown at officers while sleeping in their bunks.
The American army, according to one American general, is the most demoralised in history. The soldiers feel they are fighting a dirty, unjust, colonial war. They can see the hostility of the Vietnamese people. The war was a nightmare of insecurity against the implacable peasant guerrilla war. America has sustained over 50,000 dead and hundreds of thousands of wounded. The war has been interminable. If it was not for the rapid replacement of conscript troops after a relatively short period of service in Vietnam, practically the entire infantry troops would have mutinied long ago.
This was the most demoralised army in history. Had there been a strong socialist movement in America, the American capitalists would be facing the socialist revolution under these conditions.
That is why the American imperialists have been reluctantly forced to withdraw their ground combat troops. The experiment of building up a puppet army of Vietnamese, with the backing of the air force and navy, has to bring victory. Without ground troops they cannot possibly win. Even with ground troops they could not defeat the guerrilla war against the army of occupation.
Now they cannot use ground troops because of the inevitable storm of opposition of the American people, weary of the war and of the possible refusal to embark for Vietnam by the conscripts. While the Vietnam War lasts they cannot get a volunteer army.
For the first time in 200 years, America faces defeat. Thieu declared in October 1970 that in the event of a cease-fire they would lose control of 20 out of 44 provinces. Now the situation is far worse. The British Labour movement must demand the unconditional withdrawal of all American troops and not only the 69,000 ground troops which remain but the air force and navy as well.
Despite the sacrifices and the terrible toll of lives and destruction of the economy, American capitalism has faced disaster because they were fighting against the forces of national and social liberation from the shackles of foreign occupation and oppression and landlordism and capitalism. That is why they will be defeated.
That is why against terrible odds the North Vietnamese and South Vietnamese N.L.F. soldiers fight so bravely and heroically. Without American troops the regime of the, in reality, dictator Thieu, like that of the dictator Diem would have collapsed long ago. Even with the aid of the American navy and air force, the rotten system will not be able to maintain itself for long.
The victory of the N.L.F. will be an enormously progressive one in the sense of eliminating foreign imperialist intervention and destroying landlordism and capitalism. But for the Vietnamese and world working class it will be simultaneously a victory and a defeat.
A victory against the forces of world capitalism. A defeat, in the sense that instead of workers' democracy, as in the days of Lenin and Trotsky, a totalitarian dictatorship like that of China and Russia will be imposed on the Vietnamese people.
This will necessitate a new political revolution in the future when the Vietnamese people will join the peoples of Asia and Europe organised in a Socialist and democratic federation of the peoples with workers' management of industry and the state.