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International Socialism, May 1975


Notes of the Month



From International Socialism, No.78, May 1975, p.5.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


THE COLLAPSE of the US client states in Cambodia and South Vietnam marks the end of a thirty year struggle to free Indo-China from foreign rule. In 1945, with the collapse of the Japanese Empire, Ho Chi Minh’s Vietminh forces effectively controlled Vietnam, North and South. The pre-war French colonial administration was in ruins, demolished by the Japanese occupying forces which had, in turn, now surrendered.

The first shots in the barbaric thirty year war to restore foreign rule were fired by the British. A British division landed at Saigon and after some treacherous ‘negotiations’, provoked armed clashes with the Vietminh.

‘Reconstituted’ Japanese army units, under British control were then employed in a drive to break the Vietnamese forces quickly and open the way for the return of the French. It was a Labour government which launched this operation, not out of love for the French but for fear that an independent Vietnam would be a ‘bad example’ to the peoples of their own colonial empire.

By 1946 the French were back in force, engaged in a full-scale colonial war directed from their major base at Hanoi. The French Socialist Party and the French Communist Party were both in the coalition government which carried on this war.

By 1954 the French, in spite of massive US military aid, were near defeat and the destruction of their major force at Dien Bien Phu made them throw in their hand. The USA took over. For a brief period US Secretary of State Dulles threatened the use of atomic weapons but eventually settled for a partition of the country at the 17th parallel. The artificial ‘made in USA’ state of South Vietnam was born. In it the Americans tried to create what one of their leading ‘political scientists’ called ‘a real, greedy, get-up-and-go aquisitive society’. The result was a society so rotten and corrupt that by the middle sixties the horde of US military advisers had to be supplemented by regular US field formations – eventually some 500,000 strong. This vast force, supported by the most, massive, savage and indiscriminate bombing campaign in history, failed to break the resistance. The US invasion of Cambodia in 1970 merely spread the conflict and the killings.

The final disintegration of the puppet regimes is an event of profound importance. It will be harder for the US government to launch its next war of intervention. The Portuguese revolution will not be the only beneficiary.

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