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Selling Hashish in VIETNAM. Chapter 4 - State of the world and Vietnam in 1973

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The time was July 1973. Officially the war had ended a few months ago. A cease fire was declared by both sides on 27.January 1973. And U.S. troop withdrawal was SUPPOSED to be in progress. But withdrawal never happens in a day. It takes years, just like it is happening in Afghanistan and Iraq today, 38 years later, even though President 0bama announced it long ago. 

Withdrawals are always “phased”, and during this phase, skirmishes, ambush, sniper attacks and open clashes happen and are to be expected, just as it is happening in Afghanistan & Iraq today. 

But there was a big difference. America is not leaving Iraq because it has lost any war. It is leaving because it believes, rightly or wrongly, that it has achieved its purpose in Iraq. As opposed to the scattered resistance to US forces in Iraq today and the innate dichotomy in islam between the SHiAs and SUNNis, the Viet Cong were a highly organized force and were not party to the cease fire. Besides, the North Vietnamese apparently never intended to honor the cease fire anyway. Invasion and domination was their objective. They were openly supported and armed by the USSR (Russia) and next door China. They were quite effective as later events showed. 

In the final phase of American involvement in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese communist forces aided by the Viet Cong launched an outright invasion of the south and overran the South Vietnamese capital Saigon. They laid siege to the US embassy in Saigon. Helicopters lifted people out of the US embassy under siege and heavy fighting, with people hanging from the landing wheels and scuds of the helicopters. I saw the visuals at that time. It was sheer panic. To understand what happened at that time, watch the Academy Award winning movie named “THE KiLLiNG FiELDs”, in which Haing S. Ngor of Vietnam got the academy award for best actor. 

Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are the three adjacent countries bordering each other which were under French O-Q-pay-shun (occupation) since the late 19th Century, just like India was under the British and Indonesia was under the Dutch. These three cunt rees together were a single French colony known as French Indo-China. During the Second World War these countries fell to Japan, but as Japan lost the war it was forced out from there. These three countries together have a land area of 2,88,323 square miles, an area slightly larger than Texas and more than dubble the area of India’s largest (in land area) state, Rajasthan. Individually, Vietnam has the largest land area==1,30,000 square miles, (slightly less than half of Texas), with North & South being almost equal, Laos at 90,000 square miles is next in land area, and Cambodia at 70,000 square miles the smallest. 

I knew about ANGKOR VAT, the thousand year 0ld Hindu Vishnu Temple in Cambodia, which is the largest Hindu temple in the world. Imagine, the Largest Hindu temple in the world is not in Hindustan (=India)! In ancient times all the lands east of India were either Hindu-Buddhist or animist. The Shailendra Empire of Sumatra (modern Indonesia) in the 5th century AD was Hindu. The Majapahit Empire of Java in the 14th Century AD was Hindu. Prince Parameswara of Palembang who settled & ruled Singapore in the 15th century AD, was Hindu. Parameswara would be an ancestor of my children from their mother’s side==my Mother-in-Law was from Palembang. So in a Hindu genetic way Parameswara is an ancestor of my children. I had wanted to visit the temple and had plans to borrow money from my sister in Malaysia and go to Angkor Vat. 

As the Second World War ended in 1945, European colonies all over the world were gaining independence 0ne-by-0ne. India, Indonesia & Sri Lanka became independent before 1950. The clamor for independence began in French Indo China as well. The French were not willing to leave peacefully and fighting broke out between the occupying French and the native people of Indo China. The fight dragged on for a few years till the French were decisively defeated on 8th May 1954 by General Vo Nguyen Giap of North Vietnam at Dien Bien Phu which is at the northern end of North Vietnam near the border with Laos. 

The Cold War between the Capitalistic West led by the US and the Communist East led by USSR (Russia) was operative. Both blocks were making strong attempts to spread their influence in the newly independent countries including French Indo-China. 

The Communist influence was strong because logistics favored it. In the north, Laos and Vietnam have borders with China, an absolute communist country ruled at that time by MaoZeDong (Mao Tse Tung), and it was easy, convenient and cheap for China to supply arms and men to Vietnam and Laos just across the border. Communist USSR (Russia) was also peddling influence there. 

America, at that time was under the influence of John ‘Foster Dulles’ “Domino” theory, that if 0ne country falls to communism then neighboring countries would also fall to communism like a domino of cards. The US could hardly sit back and allow this to happen. So America decided to interfere and started supporting South Vietnam. The logistics were daunting. America was thousands of miles away across the Pacific 0cean, while China was right next door, not even an inch away. 

North Vietnam was ruled by Ho Chi Minh, while in South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem came to power and was propped up by the US. The locals did not like the US interference. Ho Chi Minh was very popular and was seen by locals as defending Vietnam’s pride. Thus a fifth column called Viet Cong (local communist sympathizers & fighters) emerged in South Vietnam which was against Ngo Dinh Diem’s puppet regime and carried out terrorist violence as well as open fight against US backed South Vietnamese forces, exactly like what is happening today in Afghanistan, Pakistan & Iraq. 

These were turbulent times. John Kennedy (=JFK) was sworn in as the 35th President of USA on 20th January 1961. The April 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba by JFK which failed. The Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 and the standoff between JFK and Russian Ruler Nikita Khrushchev happened. November 1963 JFK got shot by Lee Harvey Oswald in Dallas, Texas. Vice-President Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ) took over as President. 

Lee Harvey 0swald was shot dead by Jack Ruby in a bar. By this time the Viet Cong guerrillas were already a very well organized Anti-US force in South Vietnam. 

Elsewhere in the world, China invaded India on 20 October 1962. There was bloody war. Thousands died on both sides. The race to conquer space was in full swing. Russia was the first to launch a satellite named SPUTNiK into space in 1957, send the first dog named Laika into space and send Yuri Gagarin, the first human to go into space and return alive. Russia (then USSR) was ahead in the space race thru the sixties till America pulled a coup by landing Lee Armstrong and ‘Buzz’ Edwin Aldrin on the moon in 1969. 

JFK was shot dead on 22 Nov.1963. In the same month that JFK was shot, South Vietnamese ruler Ngo Dinh Diem had been overthrown and executed on 2nd Nov.1963. Shortly after LBJ succeeded JFK, there was a naval battle between the US Navy and North Vietnamese Navy in the gulf of ToNKiN, the water body between North Vietnam and China’s Hainan island and LuiChow Peninsula. This led to the US passing the ToNKiN resolution on 7th August 1964. The support for the ToNKiN resolution was unanimous. The US House of Representatives passed it with a unanimous vote of 416 to zero, while the Senate passed it by 88 to two. The ToNKiN resolution was like a formal declaration of war by the US. This was INVASiON. 

The US always likes to Invade (or buy) countries. The Normandy landing of 6th June 1944 (so vividly shown in the movie THE LONGEST DAY) was the greatest ever naval invasion in human history. Normandy is the north-west part of France and nearest to Britain, from where the invasion was launched. In 1872 the US bought ALASKA from Russia for $72,00.000/-, which I think was the smartest move the US ever made. Alaska has an area more than twice the area of Texas and half as big as India, and produces beautiful people like Sarah Palin. 

While naval eyeball to eyeball confrontation between the US and North Vietnam cunt in you’d, US Marines started landing in South Vietnam. I was in my second year of I.I.T. engineering degree. By mid-1965 the US had two hundred thousand troops in Vietnam. The top US General was William Westmoreland. Nguyen Van Thieu became elected (rigged election) president of South Vietnam in 1967 and remained for eight years till 1975. 

Ho Chi Minh, 79 year old ruler of North Vietnam died towards the end of 1969 about the same time Americans landed on the Moon, but the Legendry North Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap remained functional and very effective. So much so that the US realized it could not secure an outright victory in this war. Apart from successes of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap of North Vietnam, there grew strong opposition to this war inside the US. Thousands of American youngsters were dying in Vietnam. There grew a strong opposition to the US draft policy, under which every male US citizen had to do minimum two years full time military service and during that time, he can and will be sent to fight (and die) anywhere in the world where the US army is involved in conflict. Such a rule exists in Singapore even today. 

In the US, the opposition to the Vietnam War became strident. The draft law was debated. World Boxing Champion Cassius clay refused to be drafted. He converted to islam and took the name of Muhammad Ali, by which name he is known even today. 

By the time I was in my final semester doing MBA at XLRI Jamshedpur in India in early 1973, the US had decided to pull out of Vietnam. Secret parleys were going on between US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho of Vietnam. A ceasefire was signed on 27 January 1973 and US deployment in Vietnam officially ended. Henry Kissinger and Le Duc Tho jointly shared the NOBEL peace PRiZE in 1973. Almost three million people died in this war and millions more injured and incapacitated. 

This is what was reported in the papers at that time (there was no internet, remember?). This was almost 40 years ago. US forces began withdrawing from Vietnam. Yet withdrawal does not happen in a day, week or month. It takes many months, and sometime years, as it is happening in Afghanistan & Iraq today. Violence is to be expected, anywhere, anytime. 

This was the background of the world scenario when the AXARA was shipwrecked on the beaches of the Parrot’s Beak area of South Vietnam in July 1973.

 

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