Déjà Vu: Vietnam and Political Failure Today

[May 01, 2015]  Experienced leaders don’t believe that history repeats itself, but there are certainly many parallels throughout the known past that makes it seem that way. The best leaders educate themselves on history relevant to their circumstances and proactively take precautions to avoid similar mistakes. Today, we see a number of political failures and missteps in America’s foreign policy that harks back to infamous historical failures (see link here).

Forty years ago on April 30, 1975 the city of Saigon in South Vietnam fell to North Vietnamese Communist forces.1 About this same time, Cambodia also fell to the Communist Khmer Rouge forces headed by Pol Pot. The withdrawal of United States troops from the Vietnam War and the cutting of military aid to our South Vietnam allies, eventually lead to the final take over and much death and destruction despite predictions otherwise.

The Democratically-controlled U.S. Congress believed that the best thing for Vietnam was its unification and many liberal-minded news organizations concurred with that view. While there is conflicting information, after their victory it is estimated that Communist North Vietnam murdered over 7 million people in the south.2 In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge murdered almost 4 million.3

“The ‘bloodbath’ that some people fear after the fighting stops if the [Khmer Rouge] insurgents take over is only conjecture.” – Sen. Alan Cranston (D)4

Senator Cranston was wrong; deadly wrong.  Fortunately, the political and military withdrawal of the United States from the Middle East and across the world has not led to the deaths of millions like it did in Southeast Asia. Perhaps the world is just lucky so far. Sure enough, the effect of America’s withdrawal cannot be predicted with any real accuracy and those who do make predictions do so at another man’s peril.

What we do know is that there is a growing concern in several regions where savagery is growing and the loss of freedom is advancing. In 1975, the world learned a valuable lesson from America’s withdrew from Vietnam and that lesson was that, under certain circumstances, the U.S. will retreat again. For example, the current leadership of both Israel and South Korea are nervous … and they should be.

Political failure today, as it has always been, can be measured in the deaths of the innocent. When America retreats, the world losses.   While many academically-minded professors see this as an area of legitimate debate without penalty to anyone, the deaths of millions belies that assertion.

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[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fall_of_Saigon

[2] http://rebirthofreason.com/Articles/dickeymf/_Years_after_Fall_of_Saigon,_75_Million_Murdered.shtml

[3] https://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP4.HTM

[4] http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/04/the-end-in-vietnam-40-years-on.php


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

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