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Dien Bien Phu, 2020

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Nothing is equal to anything else. In 1904, Jack London traveled from Korea to China. As soon as he crossed the border, he saw what he thought was a much more energetic, resourceful and resilient civilization,

“I rode to the shore, into the village of Kuelian-Ching. There were no lounging men smoking long pipes and chattering. The previous day the Russians had been there, a bloody battle had been fought, and to-day the Japanese were there—but what was that to talk about? Everybody was busy. Men were offering eggs and chickens and fruit for sale upon the street, and bread, as I live, bread in small round loaves or buns. I rode on into the country. Everywhere a toiling population was in evidence. The houses and walls were strong and substantial. Stone and brick replaced the mud walls of the Korean dwellings. Twilight fell and deepened, and still the ploughs went up and down the fields, the sowers following after. Trains of wheelbarrows, heavily loaded, squeaked by, and Pekin carts, drawn by from four to six cows, horses, mules, ponies, or jackasses—cows even with their newborn calves tottering along on puny legs outside the traces. Everybody worked. Everything worked. I saw a man mending mending the road. I was in China.”

Gushing at length over the Chinese, London concludes,

“The Korean is the perfect type of inefficiency—of utter worthlessness. The Chinese is the perfect type of industry. For sheer work no worker in the world can compare with him. Work is the breath of his nostrils. It is his solution of existence. It is to him what wandering and fighting in far lands and spiritual adventure have been to other peoples. Liberty to him epitomizes itself in access to the means of toil. To till the soil and labour interminably with rude implements and utensils is all he asks of life and of the powers that be. Work is what he desires above all things, and he will work at anything for anybody.”

Having been around enough Koreans, I wouldn’t categorize them as slack or worthless. They seem very energetic, and even fierce, to me, but London is correct about the Chinese’s industry. Grunting, they press their sweaty shoulders to the wheel.

Crossing from Laos back into Vietnam, I thought of London’s comparison, for immediately, the landscape became animated with people buying, selling or working in the fields. Across verdant paddies, dozens of figures were bent over to plant rice seedlings. Everything seemed more purposeful than in Laos. Even the herons flew straighter, and each dog yawned with more determination.

On the minibus itself, we had had to endure one very loud Vietnamese. Though hardly typical, he was certainly a product of a more aggressive society, than Laos’. Overdoing it, the foul mouthed and desperately cocky young man may end up dead or in jail soon. “Fuck mother” was his constant refrain, with “fuck grandma” thrown in occasionally for variety.

There is no place that isn’t worth revisiting, so that one’s impressions can be deepened, complicated or even inverted. Some towns, though, continually tug within one’s mind, so that, given a chance, I’d love to become more confidential and sweaty with Juarez, Great Yarmouth, Kiev, Napoli or Missoula, for example, and Dien Bien Phu, too, for my first fling was just too brief. I had missed too many insinuations.

Thanks to its epoch changing battle in 1954, Dien Bien Phu is legendary, and during my first visit in 1995, the road leading towards it was so bad, and the population so thin, that one could imagine it had changed little since those epic 56 days. A French tank, two pieces of artillery and General de Castries’ bunker stood lonely in the open fields. Until the 1990’s, a trip from Hanoi to Dien Bien Phu still took five days.

Even more than stones, bricks or people, stories make a place, and Dien Bien Phu’s are larger than life. Since it was a catastrophe for the French, there were no Gallic heroes save the nurse Geneviève de Galard. Stranded because her medevac Dakota had veered off the runway, then shelled to pieces, de Galard stoically joined Dien Bien Phu’s squalid and gory hospital, until she too was taken prisoner with the rest. The only other women in the French garrison were Algerian and Vietnamese prostitutes in two bordels militaire de campagne.

The French commander is not so well-remembered. In Kevin Boylan and Luc Olivier’s Valley of the Shadow, he’s succinctly indicted, “On the very first night of the siege, de Castries had surrendered most of his authority as garrison commander to Langlais by making him responsible both for defending the Main Position and managing the reserves. This remarkable abdication of authority was symptomatic of a crisis in command that arose because de Castries, stunned by the shocks and reverses of the siege’s first hours, had sunk into pessimism and inertia.”

As for his chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel René Keller “suffered a nervous breakdown and sat motionless in the command bunker cowering under a steel helmet that he never removed.” On the third day of the siege, the artillery commander Charles Piroth committed suicide with a hand grenade.

To be fair, it’s not easy to fight a war across the globe with a hodgepodge army of Germans, Italians, Belgians, Moroccans, Algerians, Congolese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laos, Hmong and Tai, etc. Non-French troops made up 87% of Dien Bien Phu’s 14,000 defenders.


Most Tai sided with the French since Dien Bien Phu was on their territory, which they had controlled since at least the 15th century. Correctly, they feared the Vietnamese more than the French, whom they knew were already halfway out the door. There were never enough French in Indochina to overwhelm Tai villages or warp their identity. Now, Tai children in Vietnam study the Vietnamese language and history, and know nothing about their own heroes, Deo Van Tri or Deo Cat Han, etc.

The Viet Minh also had their Tai allies, so at Dien Bien Phu, you had Tai fighting against Tai, and Vietnamese warring against other Vietnamese, with each man believing, or allowing himself to believe, he’s defending his people’s interests. Although the African and European mercenaries could not be so justified, they could claim to be fighting for “the free world.”

After defeat, Geneviève de Galard was not just feted in France, but the United States, where she was given a ticker tape parade down Broadway, lined with 250,000 admirers. A congresswoman lauded Galard as a “symbol of heroic femininity in the free world,” and in Washington DC, Eisenhower awarded her a Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Covertly, Eisenhower had authorized dozens of American pilots and hundreds of mechanics to assist the French in Vietnam, and the CIA was also active there. The Viet Minh got help from Chinese advisors, mechanics and perhaps truck drivers. Historical events should always be reexamined, new evidence dug up and debates encouraged. It is not just absurd, but a cowardly crime, to criminalize historical investigations.

Although Bernard F. Fall’s Hell in a Very Small Place is a classic, it gets several key facts wrong, but no one has ever accused him of dishonesty. Fall set the stage for latter historians. No ivory tower-percher, Fall humped bushes and died from stepping on a mine near Hue. His exact last words, as captured by a tape recorder, “We’ve reached one of our phase lines after the firefight and it smells bad, meaning it’s a little bit suspicious. Could be an amb…”

Since Dien Bien Phu was in a valley, surrounded by mountains, the French themselves described their position as being in a lion pit or at the bottom of a chamber pot, but there was no need to worry, since the Viet Minh could never position enough big guns around the peaks to pound them with some serious shit, then it happened.

Death thundered down continuously. It was like one of God’s giant dumps, ragingly delivered, and it lasted almost two months, so life’s only meaning and aim became to do whatever it takes to not be turned into bloody shit.

Each 105mm howitzer had to be taken apart, then lugged up in pieces by porters, to be reassembled, emplaced, fortified and camouflaged. Roads and bridges had to be immediately repaired after each French bombing run. Many miles of trenches were dug.

Marveling at all these coordinated activities, the French brigadier general Pierre Langlais remarked, “This efficiency was not doubted by those who knew the Tonkin delta and its giant dikes—the mechanical marvels of another age; and as for being courageous, one certainly had to be in order to work under threat of delayed-action bombs that were dropped in each attack.”

Though war may expose man at his most barbaric, it’s also the summation of his civilization. War isn’t won through base instincts, but vast planning, mastery of technology and mass discipline, based on a shared philosophy. That’s why savages don’t win wars. Engineers do.

Triumphant, the Vietnamese could trot out their heroes. Though only Vo Nguyen Giap has become universally known, there is also Le Trong Tan, a Vietnamese Zhukov who’s praised by Fidel Castro as Vietnam’s best general, plus three martyrs I’m sure you’ve never heard of.

To Vinh Dien wedged himself under the wheel of an artillery piece, to prevent it from slipping down a mountain.

Shouting “I must sacrifice for the Party and the people,” Phan Dinh Giot jammed himself into a French gun slot to incapacitate it.

Already badly injured, Be Van Dan used his shoulders as a machine gun mount, and died while still clutching the weapon, it is said.

If you think these stories are rather suspect, sound like Hollywood, I know Vietnamese who also doubt them, yet these men are held up as models for Vietnamese schoolchildren. No society can survive without enough of its members willing to die for it.

Even before getting off my minibus, I could see that Dien Bien Phu had been irrevocably changed. With its population exploding, it had lost its rural character, and was a bonafide city of restaurants, hotels and cute cafes, with at least one serving not bad pizzas. A monstrous victory monument crowned a steep hill.

Staying five days, I haggled down the price at Tuyet Trung Guest House. This is Vietnam’s coldest and dampest region, so low-end hotel rooms aren’t just badly kept, but poorly ventilated. Unto eternity, their assorted bad smells linger, molder and piss on your spirit. Happily, though, my second floor, $8.66 a night room wasn’t redolent of bodily effluvia! It even overlooked the airport, with its runway upgraded from what the Japanese had built during World War II, and what the French had used, then failed to use, during their fiasco. From my balcony, I could see the weathered denim colored mountains, lightly curtained by mist.

A short walk away, there was a magnificent Bailey Bridge. Field Marshal Montgomery said that without this engineering marvel, the Allies would not have won World War II, for it was easy to assemble, strong enough to support tanks and very durable. When this bridge was overrun by the Viet Minh at 2PM on May 7th, 1954, the Battle of Dien Bien Phu was effectively over. Interestingly, its Vietnamese name, Muong Thanh, is also the brand of Vietnam’s (and Southeast Asia’s) biggest hotel chain.

Hungering for the old Dien Bien Phu of bamboo thickets, tall areca palms, narrow canals and thin footpaths, I wandered away from the city and discovered Ban Banh, a Tai village of houses on stilts. Many had been recently built and generally larger than traditionally, so integration into a larger economy has its advantages. Balusters, though, were mostly machine-made, with some of ugly chrome, and not wood. Soon, they won’t know how to whittle a toothpick.

The only Vietnamese in Ban Banh was the teacher at its two-room school, but she left each day after work. Her parents are from Thai Binh and came to Dien Bien Phu in 1960. Entering a tiny store, I bought an awful can of Hanoi Beer and some peanuts. One bite yielded something obviously alien that tasted vaguely like crab, which I spat out. I chased the foul flavor away with the crap beer, and more peanuts. Oh how I missed my Beerlao!

Arrayed on three shelves were hunks of sweet bread, instant noodles, tiny cartons of sweetened milk, Boom Boom brand weeny sausages and plastic flip flops. Each Tai I talked to that afternoon spoke Vietnamese perfectly. Across the lane, a just-drafted young man returned home holding his fresh uniform and pith helmet. He would serve two years.

Sixty-six years after the battle, most of its participants are long dead. At Dien Bien Phu, the average age of a French captain was 38, and a battalion commander was 43! Instead of expending or eating bullets, they should have been sunning themselves, like lizards, on some Mediterranean beach.

After Ban Banh, I kept walking past rice paddies, farmers and a few water buffaloes, until I ran into a fascinating old man, but of course, they’re all interesting, young or old.


In any out of the way village, even a foreign gnat is immediately noticed, so that’s why he approached me, out of curiosity, and it took less than a minute for the thin, short man with few front teeth to proudly state his age, “I’m 90 years old!”

“So were you here during the battle?”

“I was in it!”

“Whoa! Really? There can’t be many left, in this area.”

“There are only three. The other two are even older than me! One man is bedridden.”

“I want to hear your stories, uncle. Is there a place where we can sit, drink some wine and talk?”

“You can come to my house,” and he grabbed my hand. Merely a minute later, we were inside his small living room. Framed photos and certificates covered an entire wall. One congratulated Ly Quang Vinh for being a member of the Communist Party for 60 years. His given name means “Glory,” by the way.

Happy to have a visitor, Mr. Vinh told his grandson-in-law to bring out cans of Huda Beer and a very potent homemade sake, then insisted that I stayed for lunch. Naturally, I wanted to hear about his battle experience, but he was rather terse with his recollections, “I’m just lucky I didn’t die. So many did.”

Mr. Vinh served in the elite 308th Infantry Division, which was as much a curse as an honor, for General Giap routinely assigned to it some of the deadliest missions. In January of 1951, it got decimated at the Battle of Vinh Yen, yet just two months later, was ordered to attack the French at Mao Khe, where again it got clobbered.

Four months before Dien Bien Phu, the 308th was told to go all the way to Luang Prabang, deep in Laos. Boylan and Olivier, “This operation was intended to confuse the French, oblige Navarre to disperse his reserves, and aid the invasion of central and southern Laos by troops of the 304th and 325th Divisions. All these objectives were achieved, although the 308th was operating ‘on a shoestring’ because it had no time to make proper logistical preparations.”

Unlike me, Mr. Vinh had no time to enjoy a Beerlao or two on his Lao tour. I feel softer than virgin tits. Hanging my head, I count my blessings.

At Dien Bien Phu, the 308th lost a staggering 2,650 men, but its soldiers were the first to storm into de Castries’ bunker, and the 308th also led the Viet Minh’s entry into Hanoi, five months later, as the French withdrew.

Mr. Vinh wasn’t among those who witnessed Castries’ surrender. “I just missed getting there,” he rued. He and another Viet Minh did take 30 prisoners, “Twenty-seven of them were Vietnamese. Only three were French. I told them, ‘You can give up and receive clemency, or we can just kill you.’” By this point, though, white flags were sprouting from nearly all French positions.

After Dien Bien Phu, Mr. Vinh was sent to Thai Binh to prevent refugees from heading South, ahead of the country’s partition. The fact that a million Vietnamese headed South or North means the promised elections were never taken seriously by either side. In 1960, Mr. Vinh finally left the army after ten years. “I was only injured once, very slightly.” Grimacing, he rubbed his left forearm. “Had I died, “Had I died, they wouldn’t have been able to identify me. I had no ID of any kind.”

A Viet Minh soldier received no wage, just two cold balls of rice a day, “We couldn’t cook. If the French saw smoke, they’d bomb us.”

“You suffered much, uncle.”

“I suffered for 60 years!”

“Ah, so you’ve had 30 good years! That’s more than most people.”

Mr. Vinh’s illiterate. After the army, he mostly farmed. Even today, Mr. Vinh grows most of his vegetables, and raises a dozen chickens. He gets $181 a month in pension, and his wife, $172. She also served at Dien Bien Phu, as one of 33,500 [!] civilian volunteers. Holding her 10-month-old great granddaughter, the old woman recounted, “Once, when the French planes started attacking, we just all ran to a hill, and watched from there.”

Unprompted, Mr. Vinh declared, “Vietnam is number one. Like Uncle Ho said, ‘We can defeat any enemy.’ We beat the French, Americans and Chinese.” A little later, he added, “More and more countries are recognizing that Vietnam is number one. Vietnamese food, for example, is the best!”

We had been knocking down his nasty sake. Each time we clanked glasses, Mr. Vinh insisted we emptied them. Though many Vietnamese love to drink, rural ones tend to be the worst. Mr. Vinh drinks three times a day, starting with breakfast.

Mr. Vinh met General Giap twice, he told me three times, “But we were advised beforehand to not shake his hand,” so it was as a group. He also saw Uncle Ho twice. Though not nearly as common as photos of Ho Chi Minh, Vo Nguyen Giap’s can be found in many Vietnamese homes, particularly if they’re owned by an NVA or Viet Cong veteran. On the streets, kids wear Captain America T-shirts.

I started out addressing Mr. Vinh as “uncle” or “cụ,” a respectful term for the very old, but by the end, he insisted I call him “dad,” so he could call me “son.”

“You should rest now, dad. I must walk back to Dien Bien Phu. We’ve drank enough.”

“That’s almost five kilometers away! Let me call a taxi for you, son.”

“No, no, I can walk. If you could walk all the way here from Lai Chau, I can walk five kilometers.”

“You should just take a nap here, son, then leave later.”

“No, no, I must go. If I should come back here in two, five or even ten years, we can meet again!”

Even a young man can’t assume he’ll return to any place, distant or nearby, so that’s probably my last date with Dien Bien Phu. I had the worst banh mi, coffee and pho this time, but even the French didn’t eat very well there. Even before the siege began, most had to forego wine and blood sausages.

Mr. Vinh’s sweetness made everything worthwhile. A few years ago, a tour guide brought some French tourists to his home, so he fed them all, just like he fed me.

“I said to them, ‘Ça va! Ça va!’ When we fought them, it was, ‘Mains en l’air!” Now, it was, ‘Ça va!’”

Among the monuments scattered around Dien Bien Phu, there’s an obelisk erected by a former Foreign Legionaire, Rolf Rodel, on land donated by the Vietnamese government. Fronted by wreaths, plaques and even jars containing incense sticks, it’s a dignified memorial to the dead.

Just a two minute-stroll away lie To Vinh Dien, Phan Dinh Giot and Be Van Dan.

Dien Bien Phu’s newly-strung garish lights can’t chase away its ghosts.

Linh Dinh’s latest book is Postcards from the End of America. He maintains a regularly updated photo blog.

• Category: Culture/Society, History • Tags: Vietnam, Vietnam War 
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    Why do you believe the Chinese ethnics have succeeded in keeping the economies, or building them in the first place?

    Proximity? Borders? Why didn’t Koreans come into Southeast Asia as bush peddlers?

    I’ve heard mixed views of the Chinese dominance of Southeast Asia. Amy Chau has made a career of writing about it. I’ve droned on and for me to get into the pros and cons now would be dull.

    But the question remains. Why the Chinese in SEA? Why not Arabs, who actually reached Indonesia first as traders?

    Why not Koreans?

    • Replies: @Che Guava
  2. Wonderful first hand narrative, thank you.

    • Agree: 2stateshmustate
  3. jo6pac says:

    Thanks for the history lesson. Stay safe.

    • Replies: @Sailorant
  4. Stump says:

    Wonderful tale. Thank you!

  5. Always come to UNZ looking looking for your experiences. Thanks

  6. Washo says:

    Great stuff. Very good reading and wonderful pictures.

  7. iffen says:

    there was no need to worry, since the Viet Minh could never position enough big guns around the peaks to pound them with some serious shit, then it happened.

    They don’t have the big guns, even if they get the big guns they can’t get them into this battle, even if they get them into this battle they cannot injure us for our air superiority will take them out.

    • Replies: @oneworld
  8. Anonymous[213] • Disclaimer says:

    You just keep getting better, Linh! Great read.

    Dien Bien Phu was a huge deal at the time, signalling in no uncertain terms that the European empires were fading away and not coming back, and that international communism was, as it seemed, the new order, unstoppable and inevitable.
    You might find these news photos of the immediate aftermath of the Viet Minh victory of some interest:

    • Thanks: BlackFlag
  9. Ko says:

    Awesome writing. The photo of Ly Quang is rich. Ninety is several lifetimes in Laos.

  10. Aidan Q says:

    From movie Stripes (1981):

    “We’re U.S. soldiers, we’re 10 and 1.” 🤣

  11. Dingo jay b says: • Website

    What about the planned air strike by US AIr force to relieve Dien Bien Phu. Eisenhower couldn’t get US Senate to go along.Senate Majority leader lyndon johnson wouldn’t go along to relieve the french with massive air strike. What goes around comes around especially for LBJ.

    • Replies: @Houston 1992
    , @anonymous
  12. @Dingo jay b

    A French victory or a draw at BDP would have prolonged the French involvement in Vietnam war, but would not have permanently altered the dynamics of Vietnamese nationalism to expel all foreign forces.
    Even without BDP, despite how hard they fought they were taking huge casualties. About 1100 French first lieutenants died in Vietnam—about 21 were the sons of French generals.
    The Chinese had a huge motivation to help their old enemy, the Vietnamese, and Chinese aid would have increased still further if American AirPower had allowed the French to “draw” at BDP.

  13. Biff says:

    Onward wayward engineers!

  14. swamped says:

    “Death thundered down continuously. It was like one of God’s giant dumps, ragingly delivered, and it lasted almost two months, so life’s only meaning and aim became to do whatever it takes to not be turned into bloody shit”…which tragically is exactly what happened for the next two decades. The “epoch changing battle” in 1954 of Dien Bien Phu was a “legendary” pyrrhic victory, like much of what ensued. The French side lost about 3,000 in their last stand in Indochina while Vietnamese losses were 8,000, even though the Viet Minh troops vastly outnumbered the French forces, 50,000 to 15,000; as well as being aided by the local population. In the American War which quickly followed, according to later official Vietnamese govt. estimates, 1.1 million North Vietnamese & Viet Cong soldiers were killed & 2 million Vietnamese civilians perished. The American govt. reported U.S. troop losses as 58, 200 & South Vietnamese troops killed at upwards of 250,000. Additionally there were millions wounded & industrial & civilian infrastructure wiped out.
    In the end (North?) Vietnam defeated the French & Americans but at a much higher cost. Vietnam was number one in casualties. That’s why engineers don’t win wars – mothers do.

  15. gotmituns says:

    Looking at the kid climbing on the tank, one of our American boys would hurt himself – guaranteed, and there’d be a suit filed against the government.

    • Replies: @The Bell Tolls
  16. You hit the ball out of the park this time. How long did it take you to write that up? More than one draft?

    My anglo wife is an amateur cook. Over 50+ years she read cook books and cooked French, Italian, dot Indian, Old Mexico dishes (turkey or chicken mole 27 ingredients – I counted them), Greek (we honeymooned there), Persian, Magrebian couscous, Chinese. Presently she seems to be alternating Thai and Vietnamese with sati-babi occasionally. I’ve only ever met one American born Vietnamese who was dating a woman wrestler, around 25. His best (only?) anecdote was that he impressed locals with his Vietnamese on a trip back there.

    So kudos to you for this fine tuned account of visiting Dien Bien Phu. I was taking a French class in university at Brooklyn College when the teacher came in, a blue-haired elderly French woman, with tear streaming down her face. She informed us that Dien Bien Phu had fallen.

    Please lay off the Israel=Lucifer crap cause it gives me heartburn. Just asking.

    • Replies: @iffen
    , @Anonymous
  17. Cordelia says:

    Historical events should always be reexamined, new evidence dug up and debates encouraged. It is not just absurd, but a cowardly crime, to criminalize historical investigations.

    A crucial point these days especially as biased history is pre-packaged and imposed on the masses by vested interests.

    There is no such thing as ‘a definitive history’. New information has a way of coming to light as time progresses, and those who repress it will eventually find it blowing up in their faces.

    Excellent article, Mr. Dinh. Vous êtes très doué.

    • Replies: @White Monkey
  18. iffen says:

    Please lay off the Israel=Lucifer crap cause it gives me heartburn. Just asking.

    He can’t. Dem Jews in the Jew York publishing industry done him wrong. It’s personal.

    • Replies: @2stateshmustate
  19. oneworld says:

    The artillery used to defeat the French at Dien Bien Phu was commanded and supplied by the Chinese communists. The commander was the Chinese field Marshall Ye Jianying, much later a key figure in Deng Xiaoping’s return to power in 1978.

    • Replies: @iffen
  20. I was taking a French class in university at Brooklyn College when the teacher came in, a blue-haired elderly French woman, with tear streaming down her face. She informed us that Dien Bien Phu had fallen.

    Damn, you ain’t young! Doesn’t look like the readership of UR will be starting any revolutions. There may be a will but there’s no way.

  21. szopen says:

    Fun fact: one of the first (maybe even THE first) European soldiers killed by the Vietnamese shell at March the 13th were Polish Zapłotny and Kanderski plus German Drescher, Runde and Shoch (according to my Brodecki’s “Dien Bien Phu 1954” book).

  22. From my balcony, I could see the weathered denim colored mountains, lightly curtained by mist.

    Very nice!

  23. Now I’ve got that stupid song stick in my head:

    Dien Bien Phu falls, rock around the clock!

  24. anonymous[245] • Disclaimer says:
    @Dingo jay b

    “Eisenhower couldn’t get US Senate to go along.”

    Vertebrates? In the Senate?

    How quaint.

  25. Perhaps, Laos of today and the Korea of London maybe and might have been lazy but their lands aren’t and weren’t overused and overpopulated like the Vietnam of today and the then China, which had the largest population in the world. There’s something to be said about those who aren’t just born, it seems, to eat, defecate, overpopulate and die, destroying the nature. I would take the two “indolents” any day over the duo of “industrious” louts!

  26. “There is no place that isn’t worth revisiting, so that one’s impressions can be deepened, complicated or even inverted.”

    So true. Thanks for this little gem, Linh.

  27. iffen says:

    Thanks, that’s good to know.

  28. iffen says:

    To be fair, it’s not easy to fight a war across the globe with a hodgepodge army of Germans, Italians, Belgians, Moroccans, Algerians, Congolese, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laos, Hmong and Tai, etc.

    But, but, what about the strength and invincibility derived from diversity?

  29. Nodwink says:

    I think these events show the utter absurdity of globalism. I cannot fathom how anyone would shred their own citizens fighting over Vietnam. I don’t dislike the Vietnamese, I just find the country to be irrelevant. Who cares who runs the joint?

  30. An interesting and well-written article. Some fascinating anecdotes.

    It is of course a measure of America’s arrogance that despite the nature of this battle, they proceeded with taking on the Vietnamese.

    Of course, they paid a price, but as with most things America does abroad, the price they paid was small compared to the horrors they inflicted.

    Roughly 60 thousand Americans dead versus an estimated 3 million Vietnamese in a true holocaust which also left behind a savage legacy of Agent Orange and landmines.

    America’s efforts also created the space for Cambodia’s “killing fields” by toppling what had been a neutral government.

    So, add another million or so.

    And what has it done in recent years? Terrorize most of the Middle East and kill a couple of million more with its Neocon Wars, creating many millions of refugees and again leaving behind horrors such as enough depleted uranium dust to kill people for decades to come.

  31. anon[191] • Disclaimer says:

    As usual, Mr. Lindh uses his talent for narrative in a way that leaves you anxiously awaiting the next article. His usage of words and descriptions puts grit in your teeth and brings the sounds and smells of the places he travels from the USA to his native Vietnam and all parts in between.

  32. Che Guava says:
    @Jeff Stryker

    You sometimes post interesting comments, but this is really stupid.

    South Korea is very influential on fashion in Vietnam,

    I also enjoy wearing some Sth. きOqean

    I am not Vietnamese, but my colleagues in the sane room (we haue a polhcy of no separate office, or even cubicles. except for very managers is the custom. It seems logical to me.

    As for the Malayan world, that part I saw as a child included Wayan Kulit in forest clearings. Endless Saudi money for Islamic hate ‘educaion has largely eliminated ssuch things on

  33. @John Chuckman

    America is blessed and it’s a fortress. With pussies to the north and $ dependents to the south, it has huge oceans to the west and east. Death and destruction has never visited then on a large scale, so the hubris. Time and technology is surely going to alter it.

    • Replies: @Ko
    , @By-tor
    , @Rollmop
  34. koolking says:

    My wife and I struck up a conversation with a French woman about 4-5 years ago in Hua Hin, Thailand (approximately our ages – mid 60s). She had been to Dien Bien Phu to visit her father’s grave for the first time. She left quickly as she felt the Vietnamese were being hostile to her. As she had a few more weeks for travelling she had come to Thailand instead of staying in Vietnam. I had been stationed there myself at Da Nang at the very end of the USA involvement in 1973. I have never been back but have often traveled to Thailand (I was sent there after we departed Vietnam, fell in love with the place)) over the years. I have heard that many GIs have gone back to Vietnam and they all felt to have been well treated by the Vietnamese despite the war. One theory I’ve heard is that the French are still disliked as they stole anything that wasn’t nailed down and that the GIs never stole anything but often gave. Anybody know if this is to be true?

    • Replies: @Republic
    , @Piglet
  35. Ko says:
    @Rev. Spooner

    Native Americans could disagree with you.

    • Replies: @james wilson
  36. Republic says:

    No one speaks French in the old Indochina.

    I once saw a hospital in Cambodia where there were some forms in French,but that was all.

    Even French tourists speak English in all those countries

  37. Another wonderful and unique travelogue, thanks.

    And, please don’t ever lay off the Israel=Lucifer crap, cause it gives me hope for brighter days. Just asking.

  38. Thank you very much, as for each of your travel stories.

  39. @Ko

    Yeah, well, they were renters. This is the likely outcome when you have one injun per four square miles of territory, and hostile to each other.

  40. @gotmituns

    Unless he was 18 and conscripted, in which case his parents would receive a flag in place of his life.

  41. By-tor says:
    @Rev. Spooner

    The years 1861-1865 cost the lives of 800,000 American whites in what became a war of attrition between the southern Confederate States of America and the northern United States of America. The winning side corrupted the peace that followed and corrupted the history. Shelling southern cities and attempting to starve inhabitants was something the US Army and US did.

    • Replies: @By-tor
    , @warnold99
  42. Wolf House was a 26-room mansion in Glen Ellen, California, built by novelist Jack London and his wife Charmian London. London had purchased a 130-acre (53 ha) farm in the Sonoma Valley in about 1905. He later purchased several adjoining parcels, increasing the size of the farm to approximately 1,200 acres (490 ha).
    About one third was cultivated, and two thirds was wooded hillsides. He called the property “Wonder Ranch”.

    Their are dozens of castles and palaces across Europe and the difference in wealth between those people and people “like us” is beyond comprehension. When it’s time for a real war (instead of the one that’s always going on) the “beyond us” people make sure we understand that they are first for peace, and never for war once the fighting starts.

    “Instead of peace, we’ve seen wars that never end and conflicts that never seem to go away. We don’t fight to win. We fight politically correct wars. ” – Donald Trump telling it like it is.

  43. @John Chuckman

    I always thought the Vietnam War was wrong, but the more I learn, the more I know so. Agent Orange destroyed not only the Vietnam country side, but also many American lives. Not only of the soldiers but it got passed on through health issues for their children.

    And I am not even sure the government ever accepted the reality of what they had done publically.

    A horrible atrocity that should never have happened, if we had minded our own business.

    • Replies: @dimples
  44. iffen says:

    And I am not even sure the government ever accepted the reality of what they had done publically.

    I think that they finally gave everyone a 10 or 20% bonus in their check if their service dates corresponded with the use of Agent Orange. The best scientific evidence never showed any ill effects to anyone or anything except to the foliage.

    Just like the current times, everyone that heard the recent missile blasts in Iraq have to report it in order to get certified for their 10 or 20 % bonus. Which is not the same thing as saying concussions likely have serious health effects that are currently not well understood.

    • Replies: @bluedog
    , @Biff
  45. Ko says:

    Here’s a good look at the scale of “The bombing” for those who care.

  46. E_Perez says:

    Since the article is listed under “history” (not “tourism”), it would have been interesting to expand a bit about a strange fact:
    Practically the whole “French military” in Dien BienPhu were non-French mercenaries. La Grande Nation defends her colonies with ‘la legion etrangere’, composed of many individuals of dubious past.

  47. V. Hickel says:

    I really enjoy your writing.

  48. @Nodwink

    This is why in the US, where kids were being drafted and not just shredded but often killed, the powers-that-be had to come up with things like the “domino theory” and vague threats that Ho Chi Minh was going to get in a canoe and row across the ocean and rape their daughters, to paraphrase one of the Chomsky/Barsamian books I used to have.

  49. By-tor says:

    The US Navy bombarded the coastal and river cities of the Confederacy.

    • Replies: @E. Waldo Ralpherson
  50. @iffen

    A lot of people the Jews did wrong keep their cowardly mouths shut.
    I like that Mr. Dinh isn’t afraid to give them deserved hell every chance he gets.
    Bravo Mr. Dinh. Keep up the good work.

  51. Another great narrative, Linh.
    Your english has improved markedly. It is such a pleasure to read your work.
    Please keep it coming.

    • Replies: @Biff
  52. French commander marched his troops and equipment into a valley where the Viet Minh held the high ground on both sides. Not so smart. Or maybe he was just following orders.

    They held out longer than France did in the Battle of France in WW2.

    • Replies: @Dube
  53. Biff says:

    Your english has improved markedly.

    Hmmm. After 47 years of speaking English he has suddenly improved?

    Personally I hadn’t noticed..

  54. @Cordelia

    I thought at first that was about Germany,where you are by law not allowed to even ask questions about what happened during WW2.Made me think of George Orwell:
    “Every record has been destroyed or falsified, every book rewritten, every picture has been repainted, every statue and street building has been renamed, every date has been altered. And the process is continuing day by day and minute by minute. History has stopped. Nothing exists except an endless present in which the Party is always right.”
    Its like they say,the victors make up the lies.

  55. @2stateshmustate

    My own theory is that this is just about the only venue Mr. Dinh can get published in that gets very many eyeballs at all.

    The internet is closing down for the non-moneyed. I recently said my final Adios to a site I’d been a regular on for years, since in his quest for ever more profit, the owner had made it a nightmare of ads and pop-ups, pretty much on a par with the standard of horribleness maintained by US newspaper sites.

    Medium will happily let you write for them and then charge you (or try to) to read your own stuff.

    There used to be a site called Pando that I miss very much. Not saying I could write well enough for Pando, but I sure liked reading it. It’s all behind a paywall and a hefty one now.

    (I should not that this is general; Craig’s List is dead and other “garage sale” sites require an $800 “smart” phone to sell that old lamp you’d like to get $15 for, so I don’t even try to sell stuff any more.)

    My internet access is just a bit faster than dial-up. If you’re not making 6 figures where I am, you’re sort of tolerated at best, and certainly not supposed to lift yourself up by becoming a “You Tuber” or getting your music out there or anything like that. At an hour-and-a-half to upload one minute of video or audio, that’s just off the table for me.

    I suspect, Linh, being in fact not only within 10 years of my age but in actuality, only a few months older or younger than myself, and similarly broke, has found the internet to be the high-price-of-admission upscale mall that I’ve found it to be.

    But here’s a site where you can get a fair amount of readership, and the only price of admission is you have to nod in the direction of hating Da Jooz. The site owner is a Joo himself, and I believe has set this up in the same sense as “left wing” newspapers etc set up in South American dictatorships which surprised Noam Chomsky, who exclaimed his surprise and was told something like, “You naive American, of course they’re run by the dictatorship too – it’s how we keep tabs on the leftists.”

    So Mr. Unz, I feel probably because he actually values free speech far more than the average Joo hater, and also because he feels that his tribe should be able to stand up to whatever criticisms are leveled at it and this site is a good way to keep up with the latest anti-Joo thought, and lastly because apparently non-Joos love to bitch about those damned Joos with their good study habits, avoidance of Dirty Dangerous Demeaning jobs and they’re damned sense of peoplehood and viable family structures, lots of eyeballs and typing means the site is profitable. Somehow. Don’t ask me how anyone makes a thin dime on the internet just off of eyeballs, but it’s done somehow.

    So it’s a pretty good venue, with a fairly low price of admission. Spit in a Joo’s general direction once in a while and you’re in. Sure the site’s a sea of mostly pissed off whiteboys, but so’s the English speaking world with the ones on this site only being a bit more up-front about it.

    If it weren’t for this site, I’d not know they made a movie about Richard Jewell, or about Linh Dinh’s life and writing, or about a lot of things the yuppie mall the internet’s become won’t show me. I love “unpolished” writing and viewpoints and experiences, and while “unpolished” is why major publishers won’t touch Linh’s writings with a 10-foot pole (imagine him showing up to a meet-up with publishers’ agents. Linh lights up a cigarette or lets out the fuck word or is just wearing the right kind of shirt and it’s game over).

    So keep it up Mr. Dinh, and hey those damn Joos suck, don’t they?

    • Replies: @Polemos
  56. Another beautiful report! Thanks again, look forward to the next.

  57. Dube says:

    French commander marched his troops and equipment into a valley where the Viet Minh held the high ground on both sides. Not so smart. Or maybe he was just following orders.

    The deliberate strategy was to draw the foe from hiding, with the expectation that it could be destroyed decisively.

    • Replies: @iffen
  58. A good study of the French Union Forces’ defeat at Dien Bien Phu is Martin Windrow’s 2005 book The Last Valley.

  59. Anon[553] • Disclaimer says:

    Great read.

  60. Polemos says:
    @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    I agree with a lot of what you say but I disagree with using apostrophes that way.

  61. Bliss says:

    The Korean is the perfect type of inefficiency—of utter worthlessness.” Jack London, 1904

    That was HBD at the beginning of the last century. How foolish it looks now.

    Blacks are not intelligent enough to be quarterbacks”

    That was HBD towards the end of the last century. How idiotic it looks now.

    • Replies: @AaronB
  62. iffen says:

    The deliberate strategy was to draw the foe from hiding, with the expectation that it could be destroyed decisively.

    No, you are confusing American and French strategy. Americans were the ones that used GIs as ambush bait. The purpose of Dien Bien Phu was a demonstration of power. It actually worked, but the wrong power was revealed. The French intended to show the Vietnamese that if they “really” wanted to, they could establish military facilities and carrying out operations anywhere in Vietnam and there was nothing the Vietnamese could do about it. Lesson unlearned.

  63. @Polemos

    Hm, I think you have a point. That’s worth at least an hour weeding in the garden just for using so many.

  64. Rollmop says:
    @Rev. Spooner

    “[P]ussies to the north”? The Canadians burnt down the White House in 1812, did they not?

  65. @By-tor

    Ugh so tedious to interact with neo confederate revisionists who know nothing. Once slavery expansion was checked in Kansas Oregon and California the only way for slavery to keep expanding and keep making the slave barons more and more wealthy, was to quit the United States and make war on the United States and carve a slavery nation out of the territory of the United States. Oh and steal everything they could that wasn’t nailed down. They always loved slavery more than they loved America so the fact that hundreds of thousands perished in the war they started doesn’t really bother them that much. The slave power sought out the tribunal of arms and they don’t get to bitch about the results.

  66. AaronB says:

    Lol, I was thinking the same thing.

    The opening lines of this column have got to be some of the most devastating anti-HBD lines ever penned.

    But none of the true believers will care, of course.

  67. bluedog says:

    Strange I have a very good buddy who just had one lung removed, the specialist he went to said it was from agent orange which he got after doing two tours in Nam, and there are endless cases of the same and other cancers from being exposed to agent orange>!!!

  68. @E. Waldo Ralpherson

    … And lots of us in the North got told the Civil War was about “keeping the nation united” – turns out nope, it really was about slavery, as expressed in the South in their important “Cornerstone speech”.

    Also we had the British helping the South, and other potential enemies. We really didn’t become friends with the Brits after that little Revolution thing until WWI.

    The South did all kinds of neat shit like make bombs that looked *just* like a lump of coal and sneak them into Union steam ships, and other lovely “totally not terrorism” things.

    About the only good thing the South produced was Mark Twain, who if not for the war would have been a steamboat captain giving to telling a good yarn and that would have been it. Instead, he lit out of there for California and other parts (he even made it to Hawaii while still a newspaper reporter).

    • Replies: @E. Waldo Ralpherson
  69. BlackFlag says:

    What’s Dinh’s best work to buy? Is it the Postcard one? I’d be interested in an autobiographical work. He seems to have led an interesting life.

    A few questions for the author if he cares to answer.

    I heard you on a podcast and you have a non-native accent. Based on your blog bio, you moved to the US at age 12. I thought kids who relocate before age 14 pick up the native accent. How come you didn’t?

    Did your move have something to do with the war?

    Do you consider yourself a “3rd culture kid?”

    Moving back to Vietnam only later in life, do you fit in okay? Is your Vietnamese fluent?

    • Replies: @Linh Dinh
  70. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    Sorry to be picky but Samuel Clemens was from Missouri, which — although a slave state (remember the “Missouri compromise” from history class?) did not join the slaveholders rebellion.

    But your point that the south produced nothing is totally valid. The southerners devalued work through their slavery economy and slavery culture. Where does the phrase “nigger rig” come from? Well it’s befause In the south the white men didn’t work they didn’t pursue trades. They just fought and gambled and raced horses and whipped negroes – they didn’t know how to do or make anything. They just used rudimentary agriculture techniques and slave labor and got rich as shit off raising commodity crops like cotton for world markets. And industrious immigrants from Europe were skipping the south and its disgusting institution of slavery and settling in the north (many Germans in Missouri is a major reason Missouri did not secede).

    A funny and interesting example is coinage. Guess how many coins the confederacy produced? Answer: five. Not five kinds of coins like Penney nickel dime etc. no. Five actual coins. Five minted coins. They stole the bullion and the presses from America and they struck five coins before the presses broke and they didn’t have a single person who knew how to fix it. So there are no confederate coins only paper currency.

  71. Linh Dinh says:

    Hi BlackFlag,

    Here’s a short New York Times article about my exit from Saigon.

    And another NY Times article about my life in Philly.

    As for having an accent, I think most people try to get rid of it, but if you have it, you have it. I mean, I know American-born guys in South Philly who have an Italian accent!


    • Thanks: BlackFlag
  72. Biff says:

    use of Agent Orange. The best scientific evidence never showed any ill effects to anyone or anything except to the foliage.

    Just moved iffen into “Never take this guy seriously” box.

    • Replies: @iffen
  73. @E. Waldo Ralpherson

    Samuel Clemens wrote about his life in “Life On The Mississippi” and the long and short of it is, he was barely 15 when he decided he was going to run off and become a river boat pilot, and he went and did it, not least because the pilot he studied under made him stick with it. I believe he was in a situation where while his home state was Missouri, to continue to ply his trade as a river boat pilot, meant being part of the South, and if he didn’t want to work as a pilot, then he’d get drafted into the Southern army.

    What you describe about whites being lazy and shunning useful employment squares with how Clemens described it.

    There’s another theory that Clemens was called out to fight a duel, which was another reason to leave.

    That’s funny about the coins.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  74. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit

    Clemens particular dislike of immigrants was targeted at Irish. Mark Twain hated Irish, every single piece he ever wrote was filled with his dislike of Irish. He argued that Chinese should be imported to build the railroad instead of Irish.

  75. iffen says:

    I suppose that you believe talcum powder causes ovarian cancer?

    • Agree: Dan Hayes
    • LOL: bluedog
  76. @Jeff Stryker

    Huh! I wonder if it was the WASP hatred of Catholicism at work.

    As it was, Chinese were imported, and from what I’ve heard, started the cultivation of oranges and some of the fisheries in California.

    (BTW if I had to be a Christian, I’d be a Catholic. Their heads are just slightly less up their asses.)

    • Replies: @Cowtown Rebel
  77. So was the Vietnamese man screaming “fuck mother” on the minibus also a “fascinating old man, but of course, they’re all interesting, young or old.”?

    I like how you say “Historical events should always be reexamined, new evidence dug up and debates encouraged. It is not just absurd, but a cowardly crime, to criminalize historical investigations” and then never reexamine America’s past actions. I guess only non-whites get the benefit of through examination. Kennedy was assassinated in the middle of the Vietnam War, so the steady state was forming or already in control at that time. The same class of “elite” that pushed war in Iraq are the one who threw the levers of power that pushed for European adventurism in Asia, and yet here you are reveling in dead men’s suicides. The soldiers that were abandoned in tiger cages were just as much pawns and victims as the civilians in country. Now instead of issuing guns it’s bank notes. I would think someone of your education and experience would be able to see the bigger picture, but clearly you can’t get over the past, have too strong an in-group preference to see reality, or are aware and pretend so you can just graft off gullible whites, just like every other Asian in the countries you visit. So the next time you and other illiterate Asians are gloating about nearly century old victories, take a look outside and see all the kids wear Captain America apparel.

  78. Anonymous[257] • Disclaimer says:
    @Jeff Stryker

    I’ve read a lot of Clemens including his short stories. I don’t remember anything about the Irish. I do remember great disdain for the loafing, fighting southern White man.

  79. Avrier says:

    @ SaneClownPosse

    “They held out longer than France did in the Battle of France in WW2.”

    Much longer than GB during the same battle,much much longer than in Singapore in 1942 not to mention Jersey and Guernsey where not a single shot was fired.

    As to being a in a position surrounded by high hills, the stupid French never thought of building an airfield on their top
    However it worked fine in the same conditions, one year before in Na San , 23 Nov 52-4 Dec 52, where Giap and the V M took a beating but Dinh’s friends don’t like to brag about it,

  80. Anonymous[101] • Disclaimer says:

    After reading this piece it is hard not to agree with Uncle Vinh that Vietnam really is number one.

  81. @alex in San Jose AKA Digital Detroit


    You certainly belong in California! Do you even know the ridiculous history of the Bear Republic or that silly State Flag? I could go on and on about tariffs, slavery, Manhood and lot of other things that you are clueless about, but I figure that it wouldn’t penetrate that thick, self righteous skull of yours.

    But for others, such as the equally repugnant Ralph Waldo Emerson wannabe, I submit the following: The Los Angeles Mounted Rifles, under the command of Albert Sydney Johnston, crossed the Continent to enlist in Confederate units in Richmond. Southern California was a hotbed of secession sentiment. And, the Arizona Territorial Government passed an ordinance of secession.

    As Secretary of War, under President Franklin Pierce, Jefferson Davis was instrumental in modernizing the Federal Army. He had been a hero of the battle of Buena Vista during the U. S. Mexican War. Pierce was a lifelong friend of Davis and he was opposed to the War to Prevent Southern Independence. The Jefferson Davis Highway, which was created in the 1920’s, crossed the Continent and extended along the West Coast from San Diego to Washington State. The fifth tallest monument in the United States is the Jefferson Davis memorial obelisk in Kentucky.

    When General Winfield Scott was asked by U. S. President Abraham Lincoln, why he was able to take 10,000 men, over two hundred miles, and capture the capital of Mexico, but was unable to take 100,000 men, one hundred miles, and capture the capital of the Confederacy? Scott replied, “With all due respect, Mr. President, the men who carried me into Mexico City are the same ones who are keeping me out of Richmond today.”


    Slavery? Where do I begin? Let’s start with the fact that only 6% of the roughly ten million Africans transported to the New World were brought to the English Colonies or to the United States. The vast majority, 94%, were taken to the Caribbean and South America. The Slave Ships departed their New England berths and set sail with Rum and other commodities for the west coast of Africa, where they were loaded with Negroes bound for the Sugar Plantations. Upon arrival, the Negroes were exchanged for that sweet substance which was imported into New England to be turned into Molasses and Rum, and the cycle would repeat itself. It was known as the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Triangle and it would continue for 33 years after the War to Prevent Southern Independence had ended. The last two regions in the Western Hemisphere to outlaw African Slavery were Cuba and Brazil in 1888. An interesting quote comes from Robert Shufeldt, who, at the time, in 1861, was serving as the U. S. Consul to Cuba, “No matter how humiliating may be the confession, the fact nevertheless is beyond question that nine tenths of the vessels engaged in the Slave Trade are American.” So, while the U. S. Navy was blockading Southern ports preventing vital food and medicine from reaching the Southern people, U. S. Merchant ships were steadily supplying African Slaves to Brazilians and Cubans.

    I haven’t even gotten warmed up… So, I will simply refer you to a song by a man named Brian Burns. It’s titled “Welcome to Texas.”

    Welcome to Texas, glad that you came down.
    You got lots of friends here, take a look around.
    They come from California, they come from Ohio.
    They come from Minnesota to get out of the snow.
    You don’t like our drivin’; you don’t like our roads.
    You make fun of the way we talk, make fun of our clothes.
    But you clog up our highways, been pourin’ in for years;
    If you don’t like the way we do it, what are you doin’ here?

    Welcome to Texas,
    Don’t anybody get me wrong;
    We’re glad y’all came to see us,
    Just don’t forget to go back home.

    Looka here:
    We don’t need your politics, we don’t need your prayers.
    We don’t need your moral compass leadin’ us anywhere.
    We don’t need your business, we don’t need your art.
    We don’t really give a damn what it was you did up north.
    Welcome to Texas,
    Don’t anybody get me wrong; uh uh.
    We’re glad y’all came to see us,
    Just don’t forget to go back home.

    You gripe about our music; gripe about our food.
    Gripe about the weather here, say it’s way too hot for you.
    We hear all your whinin’, and it starts wearin’ thin,
    When we see our milk and honey runnin’ down your chin.
    So come on down to Texas, have yourself a ball.
    Take the kids to Six Flags, and the wife out to the mall.
    Have a good vacation, but then don’t hesitate,
    To point your car back up the road to that outbound interstate.

    Welcome to Texas,
    Don’t anybody get me wrong; Don’t get me wrong.
    We’re glad y’all came to see us,
    Now don’t forget to go back home.
    Get on gone, ha ha.

    • LOL: Stonehands
  82. Anonymous[345] • Disclaimer says:

    Linh’s courage in calling a spade a spade has come with a price, especially for a writer of his talent. His principled stand on Israel’s abuses has literally cost him his writing aspirations. If reading those aspects of Linh’s writing gives you heartburn, think of the thousands dead who have not had the privilege of suffering a single heartburn like yourself. The dead do not suffer heartburns.

  83. @Avrier

    My understanding is that the ruling class in England were working on a deal to give up and let the Nazis take over, as long as they got to keep their castles and baubles, and it was only headed off by a fat, alcoholic, fiery upstart called Winston Churchill who was of the “fight them like hell even if we’ll probably lose” school of thought.

  84. “More and more countries are recognizing that Vietnam is number one”

    They’re certainly very determined. The contrast between my Vietnamese and Thai postgrad students is striking. In raw ability they may be similar, but the Vietnamese never give up and keep working hard throughout their studies until they graduate, whereas the Thais tend to start out well but get bored or demoralised and fade out.

  85. Mr. Dihn,

    I’ve read a few of your articles. They are always interesting and offer a very different perspective than what is typically encountered on this side of the globe. The American Proxy Wars and those waged solely for business interests are very troubling to me. Even more disconcerting is the Gung Ho attitude of many Americans regarding these conflicts. We just can’t accept the reality that our government is continually, without request or consent, involving itself into the affairs of others, overthrowing foreign leaders, and imposing its will without regard to, or even consideration of, the consequences. You might start to suspect that constant destabilization is an orchestrated goal concealed by chaotic, seemingly inept, efforts to bring about order. Even when this is acknowledged, the “Support Our Troops,” “Greatest Country on Earth,” “U. S. A.!, U.S.A.!, U.S.A.!,” mindless rhetoric, and moronic slogans and chanting, win out over facts and reason.

    I did recently discover that, after decades of believing that America lost the War in Vietnam, America was ultimately Victorious in that struggle! There is now, as I’m sure you are aware, a McDonald’s in Hanoi! Winning Bigly! or something…

    • Replies: @OverCommenter
  86. Mr. Dinh,

    Please forgive my unintentional misspelling of your last name in my address to you in the preceding transmission. I was going to respond to you before I got sidetracked on the subject of the War to Prevent Southern Independence which was waged by the same U. S. Government that eagerly engages in severing “Unions” elsewhere. I guess that by the time I got around to responding to the topic at hand, I wasn’t being very diligent about proofreading.

    The War to Prevent Southern Independence is the place to start if you want to trace drastic shifts in both domestic and international policies. The rise of the ruthless industrialists, imminent domain, income tax, a police state, unbridled immigrant labor exploitation, imperialism, foreign intrigue and corporate globalism all found their infancy nurtured, matured and developed into monstrous proportions following the conclusion of hostilities.

  87. @Cowtown Rebel

    I really wish you people could see the bigger picture. You are so close, you are right there. Half a million US boys died, 200,000 POW/MIA, and the “victory” is McDonalds in Hanoi. Whose victory, exactly?

    You know since 1997 half a million Americans have died from the opioid epidemic. Majority of which are in areas that are more likely to chant “USA #1”. Are you starting to notice a pattern yet?

    • Replies: @Cowtown Rebel
  88. @OverCommenter

    The first “Opioid Epidemic” followed the War to Prevent Southern Independence when many of the soldiers on both sides developed a dependency on morphine after suffering amputations and other debilitating injuries. It was then called “Old Soldiers Disease” and although it was recognized as a problem, there was no call to incarcerate these unfortunate men for their sad conditions.

    There were, however, quite a few remedies that claimed to cure the addiction. One was offered by Dr. John Pemberton who had been severely wounded fighting for the Confederacy. He had heard of a treatment that the French were using to alleviate those suffering from addiction after the Crimean War. They were using what they called “Cocavin,” which was a concoction containing Cocaine and Wine. Because there was an Alcohol Prohibition in effect in 1880’s Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Pemberton substituted the Kola Nut for the Wine and Coca-Cola was marketed for the purpose of curing Opioid Dependency.

    Almost half a million boys died in WWII; just over one tenth of a million died in WWI; over half a million, North and South combined, died during the War to Prevent Southern Independence and it was long estimated that 50,000 Southern Civilians died from hunger, exposure and other forms of abuse. That number has recently been recalculated to a figure closer to 200,000. It seems that a lot of the Negroes that were left with nowhere to go and were frequently mistreated and murdered by Union Soldiers weren’t included in the initial estimates. Nor were some of the White people living in more remote and isolated areas. But the American casualties in Southeast Asia, as I recall, number somewhere just below 60,000. So, I don’t know if it was a mistake, or if you were attempting to add the number of Deaths and POW/MIA Soldiers from all of America’s foreign wars.

    I notice a lot of patterns. But, if you have The Keys to The Universe, then I sure wish that you would, in your All-Seeing Omnipotence, open the Golden Gates of Knowledge and Shine the Silver Ray of Enlightment for us mere Mortals to Behold and Comprehend. Please, Maharishi Aristotle Confusius, don’t deny us The Solution to The World’s Problems. This isn’t hide and seek; “you’re getting warmer… ” We, The People, await the debut of your Big Picture masterpiece.

  89. Sailorant says:

    If anyone would like one of the best accounts of the battle of DBP, here it is. Also, towards the end of the article is a picture of Rolf Rodel.

  90. @Cowtown Rebel


    I also noticed the OverCommenter’s 10x overestimate of US military deaths in the Vietnam war but I thought he may have included deaths by suicide or drug overdoses back in USA due to PTSD. There are also many more such suicide and drug deaths of veterans of the Gulf and Afghan wars. How many is it said suicide each day? Then add up to a year and start multiplying by the years. I’d think many more are killed by suicide after their service than in action and these are also obviously casualties of war but the government and military doesn’t care to publicise them as such.

    • Agree: bluedog
  91. Piglet says:

    To find out what GIs did in Vietnam, read the book Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam by Nick Turse.

    To find out how brutally the French treated occupied Vietnam, read Vietnam: The (last) war the U.S. lost by Joe Allen. When you read that one, you’ll see that the French got what was coming to them at DBP.

  92. Piglet says:

    After being occupied by the Germans for years during WW II, one might have assumed the French would have had second thoughts about doing the same to other countries in the war’s aftermath, but that was not true at all. On the day the in Europe war ended, French aviators were bombing targets in Algeria to bring that country back under its heel. With the help of the USA, the French were soon moving back into Vietnam, wearing US-supplied uniforms, carrying US-made weapons and driving US-supplied vehicles and tanks. USAF troop carrier wings, predecessors of today’s airlift wings, provided airlift support the French lacked. During the Korean War there were French troops attached to the US 2d Infantry Division and, when the truce was declared, they departed for Vietnam, still wearing US uniforms and wearing 2d Infantry Division shoulder patches.

    The Vietnamese had hoped the US would be sympathetic to the cause of a country seeking to get out from under the heel of a colonial occupier, much as the US got out from under the British, but that was clearly not the case. Even after the French had had enough, the US encouraged them to remain and paid up to 80% of the cost of the war to keep it going.

    During the Korean War the US Army’s 187th Airborne Regimental Combat Team made two combat jumps into Korea. In the war’s aftermath it was in Japan and, when things were going south at DBP, there were those who wanted to drop the 187th into DBP to bail out the French. That would have embroiled the US in an active combat role in Vietnam at a much earlier date. US General “Jumpin’ Jim” Gavin, a regimental and later division commander in the 82d Airborne Division during WW II, took a hard took at the situation and recommended “No.” In the words of a columnist for the 187th ARCT Association, “They listened to Gavin back then. Later they forgot his words and we know how that turned out.”

  93. warnold99 says:

    The families of those 800,000 dead are who deserve reparations

  94. Johan says:

    That bench on the photo with the old woman with her 10-month-old great granddaughter, which she is sitting on, I want it, they don’t make that sort of handicraft anymore out here in the cultural desert of the modern West. It’s awesome, id be sitting on it everyday and nurture it like a treasure, to remember that not all is junk, that modernity will pass someday.

    • Agree: Commentator Mike
  95. @Cowtown Rebel

    So instead of 1 Vietnam war in the last 20 years, there has actually been the equivalent of 10 happening simultaneously on the streets of America. I’m not sure why you thought that would discount my point, and I’m not sure why you wrote four paragraphs of nonsense. So while 10 wars have raged, not so quietly in the back ground, remind me why I should give two licks of a shit about what some homeless alcoholic random Asian man does while wandering around aimlessly? Why in fact yes, I do know the secrets of the universe, and if you want them then all you have to do is go find a mirror, stare into it and repeat “I am a stupid boomer that revels in the death of my own culture and society while figuratively slobbing on the gnob of a foreigners that never accomplished anything.” Repeat that 50 times a day, and you should be cured.

    • Replies: @Jeff Stryker
  96. @OverCommenter

    You’re post is worth parsing.

    The fact that 10 Vietnams are going on in America is why Mr. Linh and other expats like myself go overseas.

    Mr. Linh chooses his life in Asia over what he would experience in the US, which says something about the condition of the average person in Philadelphia. He and his wife are US citizens, and life is so downtrodden in the US they chose to leave. That says something about the economy of the US.

    Some Americans feel-I do-that we are above all this garbage in America. So we leave.

    I think that is his point.

    Finally, I’m sick of hearing how lower class blue collar white proles have been enslaved by the latest soul-destroying narcotic being made by Chinese or Mexican mad scientists for whom they will slob knobs in an alley to pay for the privilege of being human guinea pigs to.

    When I a kid it was crack and crack whores were everywhere, then it was meth when I was young in the nineties and all the white proles were burglars and now it is Opoids.

    First the Guidos were importing mad heroin AKA Pizza Connection, then the blacks were cooking up crack, then the bikers were cooking up meth, now its Opoids made in China.

  97. Currahee says:

    Linh Dinh, love your stuff, man.

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