The cost of retreat
For those of you who have read Dangle Him Purposely, you know I share the angst of my brethren soldiers. We worry about what would happen to the Vietnamese friends we left behind.
Recently a friend, Phil, and I were discussing the carnage wrought after our withdrawal from the war: the cost of our retreat. Although Phil was a peace movement sympathizer during the war, he had learned about the terror initiated by the victorious communists on the population. So, seeing little but anecdotal stories over the years in the popular media, I wondered what the number crunchers came up with for casualties. So I turned to Wikipedia.
If you have an interest, then look at the figures below in italics. Knowing what I know from working in psychological warfare about communist terror used as a political tool, my guess is that Wikipedia’s numbers are short of reality. The point is that I find it curious that no-one seems to be aware of the horrendous carnage committed by the communists. Is this mass amnesia uniquely American? The cost of the peace movement’s success was paid by our Vietnamese friends, those who trusted to put their lives on the line for a free Southeast Asia. Our forgetfulness and betrayal has, it seems to me, been accompanied by a debasing kind of moral denial. Irrespective the whether our entry into that war was justified or wise, war brings with it certain moral imperatives, not the least of which is our duty to our allies.
“Up to 155,000 refugees fleeing the final NVA Spring Offensive were killed or abducted on the road to Tuy Hoa in 19754sources have estimated that 165,000 South Vietnamese died in the re-education camps out of 1-2.5 million sent, while somewhere between 50,000 and 250,000 were executed. Rummel estimates that slave labor in the “New Economic Zones” caused 50,000 deaths (out of a total 1 million deported). According to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, between 200,000 and 400,000 Vietnamese boat people died at sea, although Rummel cites estimates ranging from 100,000 to 1,000,000. Including Vietnam’s foreign democide, Rummel estimates that a minimum of 400,000 and a maximum of slightly less than 2.5 million people died of political violence from 1975-87 at the hands of Hanoi. In 1988, Vietnam suffered a famine that afflicted millions. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, the Khmer Rouge killed 1-3 million Cambodians in the killing fields, out of a population of around 8 million. The Pathet Lao killed some 100,000 Hmong people in Laos.”