Administrator’s Notes:

Iwholeheartedly agree with Mr. Phillip Jennings, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran ofthe Viet Nam War, on his article “The Viet Nam War Through Red Lenses”.

HoiB. Tran

Jennings: The Viet Nam War Through Red Lenses

by Phillip Jennings

The Last Days in Vietnam is an Oscar-nominated documentary coveringthe very end of South Vietnam, in April, 1975. Rory Kennedy’s dramatically sadand horrific documentary is both difficult (for a Vietnam Veteran at least) towatch and a chronicle of American compassion and angst. The fall of ademocratic society to Communist tyranny should be lamented by Americans, whosacrificed greatly in their defense. It is a film of pathos, frustrating andyet strongly uplifting at times as American soldiers, diplomats and newsmenrisk their careers and their lives to save Vietnamese friends from the invadingNorth Vietnamese Army.

Uplifting, unless you’re Associate ProfessorChristoph Giebel of the University of Washington, Seattle. In a review of thefilm posted to the website of Vietnam Scholars Group (sic) by Professor Giebel,the film is “dangerously simplistic,” and “much more of a commentaryon current US culture—steeped in nationalistic discourses of exceptionalism,thoroughly militarized, and narcissistic—than a reflection of its actualquality.” In fact, the film “is the worst attempt at documenting the war(he) has seen in a long time.”

Aside from the obvious fact that the film is notattempting to document the war but the final American evacuation from the war,Professor Giebel’s statement that the first twenty five minutes of thedocumentary “quickly abandon all pretense of historical accuracy or balance”quite adequately describes his own (following) rant about the Vietnam War.

[Background: In the spring of 1975, two yearsafter U.S. combat units had left Vietnam, twelve divisions of the NorthVietnamese Army invaded South Vietnam. The U.S. Congress refused to re-enterthe war, although it had pledged to do so in the event of massive violations ofthe Paris Peace Agreements. Although many South Vietnamese units foughtvaliantly and brilliantly, they were no match for the Russian-armed NorthVietnamese troops and heavy weapons. In April, 1975, the North Vietnameseoverran Saigon and took over the country. The Americans were slow to evacuatethousands of South Vietnamese who had worked with them and who were in mortaldanger from the Communists. Panic and anger overtook the final days of thewar.]

Giebel posts six “main issues” with the documentary:

US centrismand exceptionalism

Of course the “notion” of the U.S. aidcut is anything but debunked. The U.S. congressional records are replete withdiscussions, debates and resolutions concerning the aid cut. A historyprofessor teaching anything contrary is irrefutably wrong. Giebel’s use of theterm “trotted out” also indicates a disdain for historical documentationwhich, easily accessed, refutes his position.

Complex US debatesreduced to literal “abandonment” “

Giebel’s “issue” here is illusory butseems to be that America did not abandon the South Vietnamese—it was morecomplex than that and not just the result of anti-war protestors and aliberal/Democrat US Congress. Which, of course, was exactly what it was.His final statement is “Congressional sons-of-bitches and the anti-warprotestors did not and (sic) cold-heartedly stabbed ‘South Viet Nam’ in theback.” Which, of course, they did.

Giebel goes on to muse, “I will not speak tothe adventurous notion that Congressional appropriation (not assembling,shipping, delivering, distributing), on April 17, of emergency military aid, inviolation of the Paris Agreement, would have made a lick of difference beforeApril 30.” He would have been better off to stick with his gut feeling. Bythat comment he makes it known to all that he has scant knowledge of America’smilitary might or system (he thought we would get on the phone and orderbullets? Rush delivery, I suppose) or the ability of an American air force toobliterate a Communist army strung along miles of South Vietnam highways, withno air cover and little mobile anti-aircraft weaponry. Every military pilot inthe U.S. would have volunteered for those missions. Giebel is just childish inhis belief that the North Vietnamese Army was somehow immune to this fate inthe face of air and naval gunfire attacks. (Yet he was more than likely a voiceof screaming rage when the Americans bombed Hanoi into submission and a peacetreaty in December of 1973.) In every engagement in the course of the war whenHanoi gathered massive weaponry and soldiers, they were wiped off the map.

False andmanipulative framing along US propagandistic, Cold War rhetoric:”

And what is this manipulative US propaganda?Giebel says: There never was a South Vietnam and therefore there wasnever an invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnam.

His statement, breathtaking in its ignorance,can only be viewed in light of the Communist (for which Giebel, at the veryleast, is a first class apologist) methodology of erasing history which doesnot support their actions and propaganda. Giebel goes far beyond the oft “trottedout” claim that the war was a Civil War, ignoring the Communist NorthVietnam bloody and brutal conquest of vast areas of Laos and Cambodia (as ifthe Confederate Army had invaded Mexico and Canada during the US civil war).

Under Giebel’s view of the world, there was/isno South Korea. In reality, the only difference between South Vietnam and SouthKorea is that the U.N. forces did not abandon South Korea after stopping theCommunist attempts to take over the southern half of the Korean peninsula.Existing as a struggling democratic country in 1973, with U.N. and Peace Treatydefined borders, South Vietnam had a democratically elected government, and theindividual freedoms known only in Western societies, facts Giebel simplyignores.

One-sidedmisrepresentation of the Paris Agreement (sic)”

Just when one would think Giebel could not posita more blatant untruth about the war, he does. He cites the violations of the1973 peace accord and the “much more aggressive violations of the ceasefireby the ARVN (South Vietnamese).” Of course, fairness being a Communistapologist’s prime concern, he allows that the “revolutionary (NorthVietnamese) side violated the Peace Agreement as well, albeit initially in areactive manner.” The statement is so stupid—there is no other wordfor it—that a rebuttal is superfluous. Suffice it to say that the ARVN neverperpetrated an attack onto North Vietnamese soil. Period.

One-sidedrepresentation of war-time violence.”

Is there a need to even respond? Communistsslaughtered an estimated 50,000 of their own people withinweeks of taking control of the country after defeating the French in 1954.Proportionately, their slaughter of village leaders in South Vietnam during thewar would be the equivalent slaughter of 20,000 mayors and council members ofU.S. towns.    The disagreement about the Communists buryingmen, women children alive during their occupation of HUE after Tet ’68, is overthe number, not the act. Most Western accounts put the number at 3,000 to 4,000.The Communists say they buried alive less than a thousand. Giebel’s statementin his review is that the West, primarily the U.S and their South Vietnameseally, claim to “have perpetrated no violence, no one else suffered.”Thestatement is ridiculous and worthy of inclusion in no review above thesophomore year in high school level. Of course. there was never such a claim.

Finally, “Racist/orientalistreductionism of the Vietnamese actions, motivations, and feelings.”

Giebel believes that the West has “long-standingracist notions…that ‘the natives’ are easily swayed by, and can be kept undercontrol through, fear, ‘shock and awe’ and the threat of violence.”  Thatour view was one of “the superstitious, emotional, child-like Little Brown‘commie.’

It is, in fact, a basic foundation of theapologists for the Communist takeover of South Vietnam that the people of SouthVietnam were too uneducated, too unsophisticated, to understand the differencebetween a Communist regime and one based on democratic principles, that the onemillion South Vietnamese military casualties were the result of Americanpropaganda and coercion. That given the open choice, the South Vietnamese wouldhave chosen to live under the already exhibited brutal Communist governmentfrom the North. That they preferred thought police, restriction of movement andexpression, labor camps, and the oppression of government bureaucracy to achance for freedom and choice. But with the invasion North Vietnamese forcesand the abandonment of our ally by the Democrat U.S. Congress, they got theCommunists.

It is ludicrous to believe they freely chosetheir own enslavement.

Giebel has written at least one other “apology”for the Vietnamese communists. Entitled “Imagined Ancestries of VietnameseCommunism,” the first two chapters of the book are devoted to explaining andjustifying the lies and misrepresentations Ton Duc Thang, North Vietnam’ssecond president, made in order to become a national hero and Communist leader.Communists and their apologists have no compunction to base power or truth, orhistory, on fact. It is a dubious, at best, requisite for a professor ofhistory at an American University.

I once visited Professor Giebel’s class tofreshman at the university. On the board was written—“The greatest danger toworld peace is American hegemony.” It was no surprise, at a later date, to findhe was a signed-up supporter of Bill Ayers—probably the most dangerous andtraitorous of the anti-Vietnam War protestors.

Professor Giebel teaches history at a majorAmerican university. In my opinion, he shouldn’t. (On a campus which oncerefused to allow a memorial to Pappy Boyington, one of the greatest MarineCorps aces in World War II, perhaps there is no surprise.) Perhaps there is aplace for teaching a European leftist (Giebel was born in Germany) view ofAmerican history. But it should be called what it is.

I invite Professor Giebel to debate a real VietNam War scholar and will gladly volunteer to arrange a public forum for thatevent. Taxpayers should be made aware of what their children are being taught.

Phillip Jennings is a U.S. Marine Corps veteranof the Viet Nam War and the author of two books on the war.


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