Guardian Upbeat Views From Vietnam




Four decades have passed since the GUARDIAN sat in Saigon in 1967 watching the tracer rounds, rockets, and flares pass overhead while listening to the thud of B-52 bombs exploding in the distance all the while knowing black and white Americans were fighting in the streets of Detroit in some of the bloodiest race riots in our history.

Sitting in a Vietnam hotel room half a world away from USA and the historic inauguration of President Obama gives one pause to consider the irony of watching the BBC in Da Nang 40 years after we Americans were “fighting for freedom.”

We now have a black president in the USA and Vietnam is at peace under a communist government.
(not “communist rule” or “lacking freedom” or “under a dictator”)

The communist red flag with gold star flies proudly from homes and public buildings and tourists trudge the streets of historic Hoi An among pagodas with locals hawking lampshades and tailor made suits. Across the river workers under conical hats tend the rice paddies.

With literally thousands of years of history under their belts, the “American War” was a mere blip on the radar sce\reen of time. Breakfast with three recent university grads from Australia along with a dinner conversation among Irish, Swiss, Belgium and British travelers confirms the optimism the world holds for a “Changed America.”

A further irony is trying to understand fighting to defeat communism in the 1960’s and 70’s while knowing we Americans are giving government funds to auto plants and banks. Here in Vietnam they do the same thing and even manufacture Ford cars in Hanoi. There is little difference to the average American–or Vietnamese when it comes to economics.

There are only losers in shooting wars of philosophy.

Comments & Discussion

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  1. Tom Anderson
    Feb 1, 2009, 4:35 pm

    Talking about black and white… I’ve been mulling over something for a year or so now.

    Is it a coincidence that there seems to be a inverse correlation between the worsening financial news and the increase of black financial reporters? I don’t remember ever seeing one until things started getting ugly.

    How about the fact that America seems to be going into something worse than the ‘Great Depression’, and more akin to ‘The Panic of 1873’, and we elect a black man to run the country?

    If I was a black person, I’d be thinking that the white folks didn’t want to be associated with abject failure of the financial markets, or of America in general, and were trying to set up black folks to take the responsibility.

  2. Holy Crap, Anderson! You had to reach WAY into the ether for that one! You must be holding some amazing “bud” to let your fingers actually type that!
    You better start advertising for another “peak oil” spokesperson, because you just lost all credibility on ANY subject!

  3. Here I am a Vietnam Veteran 40 years after the fact and now have shirts hanging in my closet made in Vietnam.

    The older I get the more I think Rodney King got it right..”can’t we all just get along”.

    You can’t walk by “THE WALL” and not get choked up when you see all the names. Makes me wonder about just how big a threat Vietnam was to America and the free world back in the day.

  4. Lib.Redneck
    Feb 1, 2009, 11:05 pm

    I remember seeing in the news when Pres. #43 went to Vietnam. I thought “hey man, didn’t you get out of going to war there by skating out of service by going to Yale (and an imaginary stint in the National Guard?…Mission Accomplished??)…and getting terrible grades at Yale…?”I am a young survivor of the Cold War. I know only know of the fear associated with the “Commies” of yester-year. It seems the new ‘terrorist’ has taken the fear seat away from the the shady spy agent from the KGB. I watched a whole ‘lotta “RED DAWN” as a kid. I thought for sure those damn Cubans would come down with their Communist Manifesto and ram it down my freedom spewing throat. My parents were taught to hate and fear those nasty little communists. Those “Commies” were the demons of the free world. They hated you because you are free (sound familiar?). Now, over 60% of our manufactured goods come from Communist nations. Try to explain the purpose of the Vietnam war to a 12 year old. Try to explain the fear people lived in created by a media power system. Try to explain the reasoning of why we fight wars that struggle for purpose in our textbooks. Try to explain how the Vietnamese were guilty for anything… Reminds me of Iraq…

    Tom Anderson; This is not a race issue. This is years of assinine behavior catching up with us. Now I have to pay the price for the Baby Boomers collective errors.

  5. In watching what is passed off as “news” and “reporters” of such, I am starting to understand why such people may need to be censored.
    Here I am, a good patriotic American tired of hearing things which cause so many people to be upset, not informed, just upset.
    We live in a wonderful world. We have so much, even if we do not own our homes or have whatever we think we “should” have. There is no pleasing the gaping unsatisfied hunger of the over stimulated wants which bombard us from the tv sets, those who tell us what we “need”, what we are missing out on, how if we don’t have this and this and this then we are less than nothing – we are big losers.
    Where did our joy go? Where is our happiness and satisfaction from having food to eat, a place to eat and family? Oh – well, the cost of living may be higher here than in Nam… at least according to my gas, electric and tax bills. oh – don’t forget the need for wifi : o in my home.
    nonetheless, i understand what you are saying Fraz. we all need to remember to put things into perspective.

  6. Lib.Redneck says “Now I have to pay the price for the Baby Boomers collective errors.”

    Yo Lib. It wasn’t the Baby Boomers who got us into Vietnam. It was the Baby Boomers who got us out.

  7. Mr. Guardian,

    I seriously would like to know…

    Does Vietnam have freedom of religion?

    Does Vietnam have freedom of the press and free speech? Could you do there what you do here – object to gov’t officials – and still live to tell about it?

    Besides being a factory that makes things with cheap labor, what does Vietnam contribute to the world when it comes to technology, art, music, etc?

    I have lived under the assumption that “free” countries created an atmosphere the contributed far more to humanity than those countries that had socialist governments. Is that assumption wrong?

    It makes me nervous to see people so willing to welcome socialism and communism.

    EDITOR NOTE– Religion seems to be quite “free” with temples, pagodas, cathedrals abounding. Not many believers in Jesus in that part of the world. Press is indeed limited under the communists. In fact, I heard radio Hanoi being broadcast over speakers on utility posts in the countryside…sort of like getting all your news from the government propaganda people that work for Ada County, Boise City, and State of Idaho! Also, the GUARDIAN wouldn’t be able to operate in Vietnam and if local government had its way in Idaho we wouldn’t be allowed here either!

    You won’t find a stronger defender of America, free press, or freedom of religion than the GUARDIAN. Roberto, Vietnam is different–not necessarily better or worse. However I also realize that with a history dating back 1100 B.C. it will take more space than I can devote to detail the contributions to mankind coming from what today is Vietnam. You probably will hear from others on your comments.

    Finally, there is a certain irony that Vietnam is more at peace (and probably freer) today than it has been in the past 100 years. Also ironic that both commies and capitalists are pumping money into their respective economies.

  8. Clippityclop
    Feb 2, 2009, 3:27 pm


    I have one word for you: COEXIST.

    It’s simple, when you think about it. “When will (you) ever learn?” as the haunting refrain goes.

  9. Roberto, what Viet Nam has, or doesn’t have, is of no importance to either of us. If the people of Viet Nam don’t like their system enough, they will change it. Someone asked us to change it 40 years ago and look where that got us. I am amazed at just how many people in this country want us to be like someone else, while wanting someone else to be like us.
    At what point did we start to believe that our’s was the only way to exist, when we are but a pimple on the history of the world’s rear end!

  10. Tom Anderson
    Feb 2, 2009, 11:04 pm

    Cyclops: The only people who lose all credibility are those with no ideas of their own; but a reservoir of criticism for others ideas…

    I suppose I should have said something insightful about Vietnam, but all I feel is a deep depression when thinking about that period in history. Someday we will either figure out how to behave like intelligent creatures, or we will cede the world stage to the cockroach.

  11. Note to lib redneck..

    The Boomers had nothing to do with getting the USA involved in Vietnam. It was largely a war fought with blue collar kids not in college. If you weren’t in college or rated 4-F you got your “greetings from the president” letter. The choices were, enlist in a branch of the armed services and serve 4 years active, get drafted and serve two and take your chances where you ended up or bust a move to Canada and be a draft dodger. I may have missed one or two more options but the bottom line is if you got a call up from the Selective Service you went and that was pretty much that. College, Married males with kids and sole surviving male got some consideration until the draft went to a lottery system.

    The glitterati and high society boomers were able to dodge any duty in Vietnam via their connections.

    Mr. lib redneck, please understand Blue Collar boomers were pawns in the war machine of the day during that troubling period in our history and more than 57,000 of us had their lives taken from them for this effort and hundreds of thousands more wear the scars both mental and physical from this war.

  12. Tom, let’s be realistic! Your preaching about “peak oil” coupled with your questioning whether or not the “white man” has maneuvered blacks into being in charge during this recession in order to “blame” them is just plain dumb! You preach “solutions” but what do you offer? So far, it has been completely unrealistic and wishful thinking. Do you actually believe that the world will abandon an oil based economy before the last drop has been consumed? I hope not! I share your depression over that time in our history, with regard to Viet Nam, but I would wager for completely different reasons. Why do you think the price of crude dropped so fast? Simply because the consumer quit using so much. If we as a world could just drop our use of oil by 5% it would cause major price reductions in addition to what has happened so far. But, in the real world, you must know it won’t happen! Humans are basically greedy. We are all over “someone else” changing “their” habits, but we are just fine. That applies to our actions in Viet Nam as well as our attitude toward oil consumption.
    In addition, if you believe this whole “election process” was a huge conspiracy to blame the “blacks” for the economic problems we face, You are truly in need of professional help.

  13. Tom Anderson
    Feb 4, 2009, 12:49 am

    Cyclops: Your reservoir runeth over… Is there a point to your ranting?

    Hiding the truth about ‘Peak Oil’ will only lead to the wholesale destruction of our city as it goes over an energy cliff. Is that what you want?

    Why are you so anxious about someone who wants people to know the truth about our energy situation? Business owners cannot plan with oil prices fluctuating unpredictably. Do you want an economic collapse?

    I hate to tell you this, but since the Boise City Government and the local media are such pathetic cowards about facing the ‘Peak Oil’ issue, there is a group of seriously capable professionals that is going to deal with the problem head on.

    We will run this city in a manner that will make it viable and successful in a low energy environment and all our useless officials have to do is try their best to keep the electricity and gas on, the water flowing, and stay out of our way.

    You and your ilk can cling to the old economy as long as you want, but that ship is on its way to the bottom of the ocean.

    As far as my imperical observations about the increase in black folks coinciding with our economic turmoil, it was just a thought. Calm down and try some deep breathing. Hatred can make you old and sick before your time.

  14. Roberto,
    Do you ever think about what the RED STAR means beteen the words Wal and Mart?

    I suppose you also think that bombing the crap out of thousands of innocent people will change minds or bring them closer to Jesus?

    Do you think Red Wing shoe company could make enough shoes for the US if we ever had a political upheaval with China?

    Do you think American Capitalisim cares about American jobs, or if communist labor has freedom?

  15. Lib.Redneck,
    Stop whining, you probably exist because some boomers had 15 min. of naked fun during the sexual revolution. Boomers had to live with the so called “Greatest Generation” political deciders willing to nuke the world because it was better being dead than red. Do you remember mutual mass destruction? Boomers also brought you “Give a hoot, don’t pollute”, and a massive anti littering campaign that changed hearts and minds about tossing garbage out the car window. What makes your generation so hot?

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