500-year war against Vietnam
By Reza Fiyouzat
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 26, 2008, 00:22

HANOI -- According to a report in the Viet Nam News (Saturday, November 22, 2008), �Statistics show 20.2 percent or 6.6 million hectares (or 66,000 sq. km.) of land are affected by unexploded ordnance in Vietnam. About 104,000 people have been injured or killed this way since 1975.�

This ongoing war against the Vietnamese people has been brought about through the use of cluster bombs, large-sized munitions that, when they hit the ground, fragment into hundreds of smaller bombs.

As the article states, �Nearly 97 million tons of bombs, of which 296,000 are cluster munitions, were [dropped] across Vietnam between 1965 and 1975.� In this insane barbarity, every geographic area in Vietnam was subjected to bombing, urban and rural alike. The Americans used 16 different types of cluster munitions.

The director of the Vietnam Bombs and Mines Clearance Center, Nguyen Trong Canh, says, �It would take 440 years and US$10 billion to clear this leftover ammunition across [Vietnam],� adding these unexploded munitions and their clearance will have �an enormous impact on human life, socio-economic development and the environment.� As the reader may know, the $10 billion price tag is the equivalent of about a week�s worth of war expenditure by the U.S. in Iraq.

Obviously, one major consequence is that unexploded munitions �discourage people from cultivating their land, reducing farm productivity and hampering socio-economic development.� Further, each year the Vietnamese government must spend a large amount of its budget (hundreds of millions of dollars) on clearance and other mine clearing-related activities.

Considering that the war was only intensified in earnest with LBJ�s vicious increase of the U.S. military personnel in Vietnam, more than 40 years ago, this makes the war waged by the U.S. government against the Vietnamese people a 480-year war. Considering further that the Americans had been actively present in the form of �advisors� and materiel to help the French from late 1940s, we are looking at a war that is half a millennium long.

The American government tends to leave long-lasting impressions on their politico-military victims. They are leaving the same long-lasting impression again today on the Iraqis and the Afghans. This time around not just with cluster bombs, which they still drop on people, but also with uranium-enriched munitions; they call it �depleted uranium,� but that�s a misnomer, since the uranium used in the munitions is radioactive and will remain so for 4 billion years.

As the Viet Nam News report states, a total of 107 countries, including Vietnam, ratified the Convention on Cluster Munitions in Dublin in May of this year. Guess which country is not a signatory? If you guessed the U.S., you are right but no cigars; that was pretty obvious. (See a list of signatory nations here.)

[Among the Middle Eastern/North Afrian countries that did not sign on: Algeria, Egypt, Iran (shame on us!), Israel, Jordan, Kuwait (not a real country, so they can be excused), Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and UAE.] 

Unlike the U.S. government, which does everything in very-long-term strategic fashion, a signature shortcoming of the left in the U.S. has historically been a lack of follow-through. One such, as regards the war in Vietnam, is the failure to force the U.S. government to clean up its mess after leaving.

As a result of a lack of follow-through, no lessons were learned from the practical-political struggle of the anti-Vietnam war movement in the U.S. This means that, among other things, once the U.S. government changed course from that barbarity, the American left pretty much went home and never thought of the consequences, nor of any long-term remedies for the previous barbarity unleashed.

In this particular case, among other failures, there was never any follow-up by the left to make sure that the Vietnamese people receive any reparations of any kind. The people of Vietnam have not even received any help from the U.S. government (financial, technical, or even purely rhetorical) in mine and cluster bomb clearing efforts. The only people who provide any help are American veterans of that war; for example, Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation, whose efforts at banning landmines, Campaign for A Landmine Free World, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997.

As a result of the �search, destroy and leave� policy of the American imperialists, a residual, random-intensity war against the people of Vietnam continues, and will do so for hundreds of years.

When will these barbarities be stopped? Obama is certainly not about to stop the barbarity. Only the American people can stop it, and at the rate the American left is going, the world will be waiting for a long time for the Americans to stop their state from terrorizing the rest of the world, or help those who have been victims of American imperialism . . . Alas!

Reza Fiyouzat can be reached at He keeps a blog at:

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