This year marks the 45th anniversary of the victory of the patriotic movement of the Vietnamese people, led by the communists and their leader Ho Chi Minh, over the invading forces of US imperialism who had subjected their country to unparalleled brutality for more than 15 years. This victory was the second great achievement of the Vietnamese people who had earlier, on September 2, 1945, declared their national independence at the end of the Second World War.
The persistent and successful struggle of the Vietnamese people in the face of the greatest odds – first against French colonialism and then US imperialism — for national liberation, has been an inspiration for the struggle for national and social emancipation the world over. It showed that even the mightiest and most ferocious of imperialist powers can be laid low through the united forces of a people determined to end their subjugation. On this occasion, the Communist Ghadar Party of India salutes the fighting spirit of the Vietnamese people and the communists who led them to victory.
Struggle against French colonialism
As a French colony from 1858, Vietnam was subject to unbridled exploitation. The Vietnamese people valiantly opposed the foreign occupation through numerous rebellions. Revolutionaries inspired by communism played an important role in the anti-colonial national liberation struggle of the Vietnamese people.
During World War II, with France falling under German occupation, Vietnam came under Japanese domination from 1940. When the Japanese were defeated in August 1945, a popular insurrection known as the “August Revolution” was launched and President Hồ Chí Minh declared the independence of the newly-established Democratic Republic of Vietnam, headquartered in Hanoi, on September 2, 1945. However, the Anglo-American imperialists immediately opposed this. British forces arrived in Saigon in September 1945 together with French troops and helped the French to reassert control over the south of the country. Vietnam was partitioned by the imperialists into two states at the 17th parallel. The Democratic Republic of Vietnam based in the north fought against the French imperialists in the First Indochina War which lasted until July 20, 1954. Most of the funding for the French war effort was provided by the US imperialists. The war ended after the decisive Battle of Dien Bien Phu in which the French supported by the Anglo-American imperialists were defeated. After this, the Geneva Conference of 1954 ended France’s colonial presence in Vietnam.
Struggle against US imperialism
However soon afterwards, from November 1955, Vietnam became the theatre of one of the longest and most ferociously fought and destructive wars in recent times. Officially, the “Second Indochina War” was fought between North Vietnam and South Vietnam, but in fact it was US imperialism which unleashed the war to prevent the spread of communism and expand their domination worldwide. The US propped up the puppet South Vietnamese regime with financial and military support. The US imperialists sent thousands of military advisers to Vietnam – starting with about a thousand in 1959 and going up to 23,000 in 1964. From that year onwards, direct US involvement in the war increased greatly, with the US sending in nearly 200,000 conventional combat troops.
Against the massive onslaught of US imperialism and its puppet forces in Vietnam, a guerrilla war was started in South Vietnam by the National Liberation Front (the Viet Cong).
From 1965 onwards, the US began large scale bombing of Vietnam to shock and subdue the Viet Cong and their allies into submission. What was termed Operation Rolling Thunder escalated in intensity. It tried to destroy North Vietnam’s will to fight by destroying its industrial base, transportation network, and air defences. More than a million sorties were flown and three-quarters of a million tons of bombs were dropped. The US imperialists expanded the war zone to include Cambodia (now Kampuchea) and Laos as well. In all, the US military dropped over 7 million tons of bombs during this war, more than triple the 2.1 million tons of bombs they had dropped on Europe and Asia during the whole of World War II! The bombs used, such as napalm, white phosphorus, other chemical weapons, and cluster bombs, were designed to kill and maim people on the widest scale.
The US also recklessly sprayed an extremely dangerous defoliant, Agent Orange, over more than 4.5 million acres of land, to destroy all vegetation and deprive the patriotic guerrilla forces of forest cover and food resources. This caused cancer and genetic deformities in humans and serious long term ecological problems which continue even till today. Nevertheless, the resolve of the patriotic forces to continue fighting until the US imperialists were driven out of their country remained unshaken.
The atrocities committed by the US imperialists during this war shocked and horrified civilised people all over the world. In the most notorious of these, over 500 unarmed civilians were killed at My Lai on 16 March, 1968. Hundreds of women were gang-raped, and their bodies mutilated, as were those of children as young as 12. While only one army man was convicted for his role in this heinous crime against humanity, some U.S. servicemen who had tried to halt the massacre and rescue the civilians were shunned and even denounced as traitors by their government.
Anti-War movement and victory of the Vietnamese people
The US imperialists forced the youth of their country to fight in this unjust war thousands of miles away from their homeland by conscripting them. The average age of the 60,000 U.S. military men who died in Vietnam was just 22.8 years old. All this led to the rise of a broad-based and powerful anti-war movement in the US. From 1962 until the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, millions of youth and students and working people all over the US protested vigorously against the involvement of their government in an unjust war. Many servicemen too, who had taken part in the War and witnessed the horrors, spoke out against it upon their return to the US.
All this had a devastating effect on the morale of the US military. In March 1975, the patriotic Vietnamese forces launched their final offensive. This culminated in the fall of Saigon (now known as Ho Chi Minh City), the last bastion of the US in Vietnam, on April 30, 1975. It was a glorious victory for the Vietnamese people, and was jubilantly celebrated by freedom-loving people all over the world.
At a time when US imperialism continues to be the most dangerous threat to world peace and the freedom of the peoples all over the globe, it is only appropriate that people in India and everywhere draw inspiration from the resolute struggle of the Vietnamese people and strengthen their resolve to combat US imperialism and all its allies. The sacrifices made by the brave Vietnamese people in their struggle against US imperialism will never be forgotten.