By Dieu Khuonghuu
This year will mark on April 30 the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon to the north Vietnamese communist troops who arrived in their sophisticated soviet T-54 tanks crashing into the gates of south Vietnam’s Independence Palace. Since then the 300-year old beautiful city of Saigon has been renamed Ho Chi Minh City, a good mimic to outdo Leningrad or Stalingrad and, worse still, the entire country from north to south has come under communist rule with a new label, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.
It is now clearly recognized that the collapse of South Vietnam IN 1975 resulted from the Jan. 27, 1973 Paris Accords, which was acclaimed a “masterpiece” in diplomacy by Dr. Henry Kissinger, then National Security Adviser to President RichardNixon.
In fact, well before these Paris Accords, Henry Kissinger had made the decision to jettison South Vietnam, aka Outpost of the Free World since the mid-1950s. Declassified documents have revealed that while meeting Chu and Mao in February 1972, Henry Kissinger informed the top communist Chinese leaders that if the U. S. was able to live with a great communist country like China, the U. S. could also live with a small communist country like Vietnam.
Henry Kissinger did not have to wait long to carry out his prophecy. Less than a year later, with the Paris Accords, 1973, he was able to pave the way for South Vietnam to come under communist rule. According to the terms of these Paris Accords, the most basic, concrete and decisive matter was for the U. S. to put an end to its intervention in the Vietnam conflict and the complete cessation of military aid to South Vietnam for its vital national defense.
South Vietnamese President Nguyen Van Thieu was surely not a geopolitical expert of Dr. Kissinger’s caliber, but he was able to see immediately the catastrophic consequences of these Paris Accords for South Vietnam and vigorously refused to have his government sign them. President Thieu’s stubbornness in demanding many major changes in the draft dragged on and on during three months without much result.
By mid-January 1973 Henry Kissinger had President Nixon send a series of letters to President Thieu saying that the U. S. government would sign the Paris Accords with or without the Saigon government. To read between the lines, the U. S. was dumping the Saigon government and getting out of Vietnam period.
President Thieu did not have much choice and had to accept the Paris Accords but with a “written guarantee” by President Nixon to carry out strong U. S. military action in case of violation of the accords by Hanoi. That letter of guarantee was, of course, just “for the birds” as history has shown .
Thanks to the Paris Accords, the communist regime in Hanoi was able to understand that the U.S. would not intervene again in the Vietnam conflict or grant further military aid to South Vietnam. Further, during that period Hanoi received from the Soviet Union military supplies at a rate four time that compared to the levels it received at the highest peak of the American military intervention.
After two years of intensive preparations, Hanoi began to unleash its “Ho Chi Minh Campaign” in March 1975 with the quasi-totality of its army (15 divisions) across the DMZ -a Demilitarized Zone – at the 17th Parallel against the south Vietnamese troops, who were by then down to their last bullets and gallons of gasoline in the defense of their country and of the Free World. This final military general offensive by North Vietnam against South Vietnam lasted only 55 days and, of course, without much opposition by the destitute Saigon troops.
History has also recorded what happened after the fall of Saigon . More than one million soldiers and civil servants of the South Vietnamese government were sent to prison and kept there without any trial, some for 5 years, some for 10 years and some for over 20 years. Of course, tens of thousands of them died in these hard labor camps. Their families were deprived of their possessions and chased out of their homes to so-called “new economic zones” to face sheer destitution. Their children were not allowed to attend schools. The right to private property no longer existed and the sole employer was the State.
The fall of Saigon in 1975 was not only a problem of political strategy or military tactics but very much a matter of morality and ethics in world affairs. The past four decades of communist rule in Viet Nam have allowed the people in Viet Nam as well as the United States to understand the true purpose and nature of the Vietnam war. South Vietnam and its great American ally were fighting for the defense of Freedom and Democracy against Hanoi and its powerful communist allies’ intent to subjugate South Vietnam by the force of arms.
The truth is now clear for everybody to see all the lies and deceits which were put out by Hanoi during the Vietnam war.
In the past 40 years, the Vietnamese people have been compelled to live under communist rule. Vietnam is now the world’s 14th ranking population with over 90 million people, but it has also become one of the poorest countries and one of the most repressive states in the world for blatant violations of human rights, widespread corruption and outrageous abuses of power always inherent in a totalitarian regime.
There is a question which has been haunting many Vietnamese people in the past 40 years: Was it at all possible for Dr. Henry Kissinger and the powerful United States of America to find a way to prevent North Vietnam from taking over South Vietnam by the force of arms?
In this year of 2015, we remember the fall of Saigon 40 years ago and cannot forget Kissinger’s major role in that historical and tragic event for the Vietnamese people. Now at the age of 92, Kissinger continues to be very active in politics and international relations, still with special reference and emphasis on China. Again, last month, he made a grandiose visit to Beijing where he was given a red carpet reception by the highest Chinese leader Xi Jin-ping to remind people that Henry Kissinger has always been a great friend of China since his meeting with Chu En-lai and Mao Tse-tung in February 1972.
One obvious thing the world can be sure of is that, as long as the communist leaders in Beijing continue to heap praises on Henry Kissinger, the kind of “World Order” he has professed in his recently published book must be quite profitable to China.
With China now considered to be a leading superpower both economically and militarily, Henry Kissinger strongly claims that China and America should become BFF – Best Friends Forever. Henry Kissinger may score here a “first” in getting a second Nobel Prize for bringing “peace” this time to the whole world, not only for Vietnam with his 1973 Nobel Peace Prize! It must be remembered that Kissinger’s co-laureate for this Nobel Peace Prize, Le Duc Tho, refused to accept it because the Paris Accords were, in fact, a victory for Hanoi and the communist side.
The way Henry Kissinger succeeded in ending the Vietnam war was a tragedy to the Vietnamese people and a deplorable stigma in the 200-year history of the American nation. It was an unprecedented time in which the United States of America failed to honor its promise and did not fulfill its commitment to defend its ally in the face of the enemy.
In short, when you do not know how to secure victory for your side and stop the advance of your enemy, you do not have to be a genius in geopolitics to tell people “if you can’t fight them, join them” — which simply means “just throw in the towel” .
Dieu Khuonghuu, 84, who has a master’s degree from MIT. was a cabinet member of the South Vietnam government and has lived in San Francisco the past 40 years..