April 30, 2015

April 30, 1975: The Fall of Saigon

John RobsonResident Historian
 

On the 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon (also the 70th of the death of Adolph Hitler) we can see more clearly the lessons of Vietnam.

At the time the war was thought to be a useful corrective to the tendency to see in every minor aggressor a potential Hitler, teaching us limits to what Western nations could do in the world and what they needed to do.

Unfortunately after 1975 the regime in Hanoi proved to be not nationalist agrarian reformers but brutal Communists, the Khmer Rouge launched a genocide in Cambodia and the Soviets went on a geopolitical offensive through Africa and even Latin America that also included the 1979 invasion of Afghanistan that still haunts us.

And while the Soviets in turn experienced imperial overstretch far more serious than the Americans ever did, the long war in Vietnam clearly delayed their major expansion for 15 years during which the inefficient Communism system stagnated, rendering the USSR more rigid and sclerotic and far less dangerous than it would have been in 1965.

In the end we learned that while not every conflict is a Second World War, either in the positive sense of ending in a decisive victory or the negative one of posing a serious threat to the survival of our way of life, we must fight the minor, ambiguous and distant conflicts with some determination if we are not to find ourselves facing major, clear and immediate threats.

 

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commented 2015-05-04 20:40:50 -0400
Thank you for the reminder, as many young men died.
commented 2015-05-02 23:05:45 -0400
Excellent reminder.

In Hamilton in the 1990s, police told me they were dealing with a number of machete attacks by second-generation survivors of the pol pot and khmer rouge genocide.

One of my public health clients, the child of refugees from Vietnam, said that as she grew up, her parents would wake her at night and they would all hide in a closet, so paranoid her parents were.

Strangely, or maybe not, police also told me they had been specifically instructed that the symptoms experienced by the Vietnamese survivors were totally unlike how Jews who survived the holocaust responded. They had been told Jews did not suffer any symptoms.

I knew that was wrong and so put together a research dossier for police that cited a number of studies (US universities) that showed that the spectrum of symptoms of post trauma suffered by Vietnamese survivors were identical to those suffered by Jews that survived the holocaust.

Yes, we must indeed heed the lessons of history, lest it be too late before we realize the enemy is well-rooted in our midst.
commented 2015-05-01 00:48:05 -0400
Win the war. Lose the peace. Happens over and over again. Soldiers do their job…and the leftists undermine their suffering AND SACRIFICE. Every time since WWII.
commented 2015-05-01 00:23:02 -0400
Well tomorrow is May Day.
commented 2015-04-30 22:05:36 -0400
Also on this day in history April 30 hope you enjoy.
American Revolution 1776
Samuel Adams writes of hope for more battles
In a letter to Reverend Samuel Cooper dated April 30, 1776, Samuel Adams writes of his hopes for another battle between British and American troops, stating his belief that, ” One battle would do more towards a Declaration of Independence than a long chain of conclusive arguments in a provincial…

Automotive 1948
Original Land Rover debuts at auto show
The Land Rover, a British-made all-terrain vehicle that will earn a reputation for its use in exotic locales, debuts at an auto show in Amsterdam on April 30, 1948. The first Land Rover, known as the Series 1, was the brainchild of Maurice Wilks, the head designer for the British car…

Civil War 1864
Confederates attack Union troops at Jenkins’ Ferry
At the Battle of Jenkins’ Ferry in Arkansas, Union troops under General Frederick Steele fight off a Confederate army under General Edmund Kirby Smith as the Yankees retreat towards Little Rock, Arkansas. Jenkins’ Ferry came at the end of a major Union offensive in Arkansas. While a Federal force under General…

Cold War 1948
Organization of American States established
The United States and 20 Latin American nations sign the charter establishing the Organization of American States (OAS). The new institution was designed to facilitate better political relations between the member states and, at least for the United States, to serve as a bulwark against communist penetration of the Western…

Crime 1927
The first federal prison for women opens
The Federal Industrial Institution for Women, the first women’s federal prison, opens in Alderson, West Virginia. All women serving federal sentences of more than a year were to be brought here. Run by Dr. Mary B. Harris, the prison’s buildings, each named after social reformers, sat atop 500 acres.

Disaster 1888
Orange-sized hail reported in India
A hail storm devastates the farming town of Moradabad, India, killing 230 people and many more farm animals on this day in 1888. Sixteen others died in nearby Bareilly. In the Central Plains region of Uttar Pradesh, March and April are the prime seasons for hail. However, the…

General Interest 1789
The first presidential inauguration
In New York City, George Washington, the great military leader of the American Revolution, is inaugurated as the first president of the United States.In February 1789, all 69 presidential electors unanimously chose Washington to be the first U.S. president. In March, the new U.S. constitution officially took effect, and in…

1803
Louisiana Purchase concluded
On April 30, 1803, representatives of the United States and Napoleonic France conclude negotiations for the Louisiana Purchase, a massive land sale that doubles the size of the young American republic. What was known as Louisiana Territory comprised most of modern-day United States between the Mississippi and the Rocky Mountains,…

1939
New York World’s Fair opens
On April 30, 1939, the New York World’s Fair opens in New York City. The opening ceremony, which featured speeches by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and New York Governor Herbert Lehman, ushered in the first day of television broadcasting in New York.Spanning 1,200 acres at Flushing Meadow Park in Queens,…

Hollywood 1997
“Coming out” episode of Ellen
On this day in 1997, in a widely publicized episode of the ABC sitcom Ellen, TV character Ellen Morgan (played by Ellen DeGeneres) announces that she is gay. DeGeneres, a former stand-up comedian who was born on January 26, 1958, became part of the ensemble cast of the ABC series These…

Music 1933
Willie Nelson is born
Willie Nelson’s sound and his look revolutionized country music, making him one of that genre’s most recognizable faces, and if his winning personality weren’t enough reason to like him, then his good-natured struggles with the IRS would be. But before Willie Nelson became a legend or an icon, he was…

Presidential 1789
George Washington gives first presidential inaugural address
On this day in 1789, George Washington is sworn in as the first American president and delivers the first inaugural speech at Federal Hall in New York City. Elements of the ceremony set tradition; presidential inaugurations have deviated little in the two centuries since Washington’s inauguration. In front of 10,000 spectators,…

Sports 1993
Tennis star Monica Seles stabbed
Top women’s tennis player Monica Seles is stabbed by a deranged German man during a match in Hamburg. The assailant, a fan of German tennis star Steffi Graf, apparently hoped that by injuring Seles his idol Graf would be able to regain her No. 1 ranking. Seles became the youngest woman…

World War I 1917
Battle of the Boot
On this day in 1917, the so-called Battle of the Boot marks the end of the British army’s Samarra Offensive, launched the previous month by Anglo-Indian forces under the regional commander in chief, Sir Frederick Stanley Maude, against the important Turkish railroad at Samarra, some 130 kilometers north of Baghdad,…
THANK YOU FOR READING Enlightened Conservative
commented 2015-04-30 20:57:39 -0400
The American hierarchy abandoned South Vietnam then went off to set up Robert Gabriel in Zimbabwe. However some Vietnam veterans came to Rhodesia and joined the RLI, Selous Scouts and SAS.