The Unz Review: An Alternative Media Selection
A Collection of Interesting, Important, and Controversial Perspectives Largely Excluded from the American Mainstream Media
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 Entire ArchiveVietnam Items

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Ea Kly, 2019
Smaller than California and settled for millennia, how can Vietnam even have a frontier?! But that’s what the Central Highlands were until very recently. Some of the heaviest fighting during the Vietnam War prevented Vietnamese from moving there en masse, but now they’re swarming all over. With nearly a hundred million people on so little... Read More
Hong Kong, 2017
I just got off Skype with Kevin Barrett. Interviewed, I sat in the dusty office of our dustier plastic recycling plant. Truck horns and roosters crowing provided background noises. Though we covered many topics, I want to expand on just one, that of America as a religion. Unless you’re a reactionary, assbackward asshole, you believe... Read More
Can Tho, 2019
I hadn’t been to Chau Doc in nearly two decades, so was definitely looking forward to this trip. Though my wife doesn’t travel well, she came along because she wanted to visit Mistress’ Temple. All over Vietnam, there are Mistress’ Temples, with most dedicated to Guanyin, but the Chau Doc one was built for a... Read More
Shaman in Vinh Chau, 2019
After three weeks in Saigon for Tet, I’m back in Ea Kly. It’s 5:33AM as I begin this, and I’ll type until 6:45, to begin my work day at the plastic recycling plant. As usual, I sit at Mrs. Ha’s cafe. I’m her first customer. Unlike Saigon, it’s chilly here. Appearing suddenly from the shadow... Read More
Saigon, 2019
It’s Tet here. Public employees get nine days off, counting an unpaid weekend. Millions abandon cities for their home villages, leaving most of Hanoi and Saigon suddenly unclogged, so crossing the street is no longer a harrowing adventure. Prices are jacked up, including for long distance buses, hotel rooms, meals and even haircuts. The week... Read More
ea-kly-2019-3
During my two months in Ea Kly, I have not seen anyone read a book or even a newspaper. TV watching is not compulsive, and canned music is not a pervasive, nearly nonstop pollution, as it is in much of the world. No one here is rigged to a mind scrambling headphone. Though FaceBook has... Read More
ea-kly-2019-2
I live in a square, spartan room with a bed, no chairs, and a bathroom without door, since the builder/plumber hired by brother in law was so half assed. My front wall is only half painted because the man couldn’t move his arm any more or further, I suppose. In person, the useless fellow is... Read More
saigon-2018-4
Visiting Vietnam in 1953, Norman Lewis quoted a despairing French soldier, Captain Doustin, “It is the feeling I get at this moment that we are at grips with something ant-like rather than human. These unemotional people driven on by some blind instinct. I feel that my intelligence and my endurance are not enough. Take, for... Read More
ea-kly-2-2019
I painted houses for a decade, and on our crews, we always knew of each other’s relative competence, willingness to work, sense of responsibility, substance addictions, if any, and, ultimately, character. My roommate, Jay, for example, really didn’t give a fuck, for he was often late, but somehow always rehired, for our boss, Joe LeBlanc,... Read More
Ea Kly, 2019
During a late night layover in Minneapolis a decade ago, I found myself in a McDonald’s. Manning the cash register was a chubby black woman, and the ordering customer was a black flight attendant who was young, thin and pretty, how all American air stewardesses used to look, before the ageism lawsuits. In Asia, they’re... Read More
da-lat-2018
Since my time is tight and often interrupted, I will file these hit-and-run, guerrilla pieces. I’m the only one in this roadside, wall-less and dirt-floored cafe. Walking here, I paused to pet my neighbor’s cow, who’s taken an extreme liking to me. Lovingly, she licked my hand and arm with her sandpaper tongue and even... Read More
Ea Kly, 2018
In Bangkok for Miss Universe 2018, Miss Cambodia and Miss Vietnam made international news when they were idiotically mocked by Miss USA for not knowing English. The Vietnamese beauty, H’Hen Nie, is a Rade from Dak Lak, a province well-known to many American Vietnam War vets, but otherwise not often seen by foreigners. Its waterfalls... Read More
Philadelphia, 2017
Beating Malaysia, Vietnam has just been crowned the soccer champion of Southeast Asia. With its short men boasting negligible muscles, this corner of the world is not known for its athletic prowess, so the world took no notice of this prize, understandably. Champion Vietnam is only ranked 100 by FIFA, but it took considerable effort... Read More
Binh Chanh, 2018
Two years ago, I was having dinner in NYC with a group of Japanese writers. Next to me was Mieko Kawakami, who’s also known as a pop singer. Since her English was very limited, we conversed mostly through another person. Seeing that my beer glass was empty, Mieko filled it. Earlier this year, I found... Read More
Saigon Trade Convention, 2018
All floridly unequivocal praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Universes, and to his faithful Servant and Prophet, Mohammed, and may Israel, that abomination, smudge and curse upon mankind, be neatly erased with no trace left behind, so the rest of us can peacefully go on with our tedious and humbling labor, all while... Read More
saigon-2018-2-2
“Tổ Quốc Trên Hết” [“Nation Above All”] was a slogan of the defunct and much maligned Republic of South Vietnam, while the Socialist North rallied their populace with “Chống Mỹ Cứu Nước” [“Fight the Americans, Save the Nation”]. During the war, both Vietnamese sides stressed their nationalist credentials while discrediting their opponent as a foreign... Read More
Saigon, 2018
First, the good news. To those who can’t stand my scribbling, it’s clear this pitiful, barely gurgling font is drying up quickly, for lately, all I feel like doing is vegetate at a sidewalk café, or wander mindlessly for miles, so that I can be just another anchovy in this demanding, forgetful stream. Though my... Read More
A foreign country seeps into one’s consciousness via large events and personalities, mostly, as in war, earthquake, tsunami, coup d’état, unprovoked bombing, Gaddafi and Assad, etc., but it’s the lesser turbulences that will begin to yield more revealing clues about any society. My two years in Italy, I often combed through newspapers for crime stories,... Read More
Ỵ, a domestic servant in Saigon, 2018
My first book, Fake House (2000), was dedicated to “the unchosen,” and by that, I meant all those who are not particularly blessed at birth or during life, just ordinary people, in short, with their daily exertion and endurance. Further, I’ve always considered losing to be our common bond and bedrock, for no matter how... Read More
saigon-2018-2
Trinh Cong Son, the great song writer, poet and soul of Saigon, said that he got his heart and mind revving each morning by watching frantic life unfurling all around him, while sitting in a sidewalk cafe. Lesser Vietnamese do exactly the same, however, for to be among one’s own kind is practically an hourly... Read More
Americans Need to Rethink War and Look Honestly at Ourselves and Our Friends
"This time, they think they have it right." So declared an Associated Press story reporting an upbeat assessment by this country's top military officer at the end of a five-day visit to Afghanistan earlier this spring. Marine General Joseph Dunford Jr., chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was heading home from the war zone,... Read More
Quy Hop, Nghe An, 2018
In Marseilles, I met an illegal immigrant from Nghe An. He said his boss and housemates in Paris were all from the same province. Long known for its poverty, Nghe An leads Vietnam in the ratio of people working overseas, with most never returning. In fact, so many have become illegal in South Korea, Vietnam... Read More
Even more than eating for fun, the main pleasure of Vietnam is mingling, but that's only if you enjoy being around people, which Vietnamese obviously do, and here, community life is most intense and intimate in alleys. The French gave Hanoi and Saigon a facelift, so there are straight streets, grand boulevards and many traffic... Read More
Baby ritualistically abandoned, Saigon, 2018
In Saigon, the foreign tourists stay mostly downtown, where they can patronize American bars, and restaurants serving Indian, Thai, Korean, Italian, Mexican and Middle Eastern food, not to mention McDonald’s, Burger King, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Popeyes, Starbucks and Lotteria, the last a Japanese chain. With English as the lingua franca, they can be overseas, yet... Read More
saigon-2018
With their brief existence, and dumbed down now by a degraded and warped education, most Americans have a telescoped and cartoony sense of history, so nothing matters, really, beyond the last two or three presidential elections, and each foreign country is represented, at most, by a caricature or two, so Germany is Hitler and Merkel,... Read More
Vinh Chau Chinese at the Seven Wonders Restaurant, Saigon, 2018
In the 17th century, the Manchus conquered China, causing thousands of defeated Chinese soldiers and their families to flee to Vietnam, then divided between north and south. The Nguyen Clan, rulers of the south, granted these Chinese land in nominal Cambodian territory, paving the way for Vietnam’s annexation of a third of Cambodia. This obscure... Read More
Chicago, 2012
Millions of Americans still have ties to their ancestral country. Two years ago, I met an 54-year-old man who would periodically visit his family home in Abruzzo. Its grape vines and olive trees had been sold a long time ago, and the house itself was little more than a husk, thanks to thieves, “Locals, not... Read More
ea-kar-2017
It was a 200-mile journey from Saigon to Dak Lak, a highlands province that saw much fighting during the Vietnam War. Just north of Saigon, I passed quite a few grand villas, with two dog statues on gate columns, though some owners outdid their neighbors by having lions instead. The further north I went, the... Read More
Vung Tau cafe, 2017
And so we’re in Vung Tau, a sleepy, seaside city at the mouth of the Saigon River. I’m staying in a hotel owned by an Army unit. My room is quiet, cheap and has an ample balcony with an ocean view. I’ve only stumbled onto two other guests, each sitting on a massage chair. The... Read More
Hanoi, 2017
With only a week and a half in Hanoi, I’ve been out and about almost nonstop. This article, then, is being jotted down at 5:11AM, as I’m lying in bed on my stomach at the Letters Home guesthouse. Stuck in a grim alley in an unfashionable neighborhood, it’s not exactly popular, so about the only... Read More
Home cooking in Hanoi, 2017
I’m back in Hanoi. Noi Bai Airport was sparkling after its recent upgrade, and I rode into town on a wide, well-landscaped freeway named after general Vo Nguyen Giap. On both sides were shops and restaurants. “I don’t recognize any of this, brother,” I said to the taxi driver, a man in his mid 40’s.... Read More
Poets Phan Nhien Hao and To Thuy Yen (far left) in New Haven
I’ve only been to New Haven four times, and last week, it was only to participate in the commemoration of the Fall of Saigon, as organized by the Vietnamese Studies Program at Yale. I was one of three poets invited. The other two were Phan Nhien Hao (b. 1967) and To Thuy Yen (b. 1938).... Read More
Gay Pride Parade in Vietnam.  Credit: VietPride
I last saw Vietnam in 2001. Back then, Saigon had no American fast food joints save a Kentucky Fried Chicken. Long-term foreign residents were few, and mostly confined to the Phạm Ngũ Lão area. There were no foreign stars in the just-established professional soccer league. Now in Saigon, there are 20 KFCs, eight Burger Kings... Read More
360b / Shutterstock.com
How Diplomacy by Air Power Became an All-American Tradition
In April 2014, ESPN published a photograph of an unlikely duo: Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, and former national security adviser and secretary of state Henry Kissinger at the Yankees-Red Sox season opener. In fleece jackets on a crisp spring day, they were visibly enjoying each other’s company, looking for all the... Read More
Introduction: In 1975 the people of Vietnam successfully ended one of the longest and bloodiest anti-colonial wars in world-history – defeating the US, the world’s biggest imperial power, after 20 years of struggle. Barely forty years later the Vietnamese regime signed off on the US-Japanese dominated Trans-Pacific Free Trade Agreement (TPFTA), which essentially converted Vietnam... Read More
Spectral-Design / Shutterstock.com
During the current refugee crisis in Europe, it is said that there are many imposters among genuine refugees from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Yemen, all countries, incidentally, that America and its allies have destroyed. Too many of them are men, it is pointed out, and they’re generally not dressed badly enough. Many have smart... Read More
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Ignorance is renewed with each newborn, and by the time any man figures out anything, he can almost feel the mortician leaning over his stiff face. Though all lessons are embalmed within history, few care to explore that infinite corpse. Lewis Mumford, “So far from being overwhelmed by the accumulations of history, the fact is... Read More
Vietnam has largely dropped out of sight since the Communists won a bloody North-South civil war in 1975. But, with a population of 93 million, it has hardly gone away. Now it is in the news again thanks to Noble, an acclaimed new movie. Directed by Stephen Bradley and starring Deirdre O’Kane, Noble is a... Read More
“It just started out as a simple goodbye song,” James Douglas Morrison told reporter Jerry Hopkins. “Probably just to a girl, but I could see how it could be goodbye to a kind of childhood... I think it's sufficiently complex and universal in its imagery that it could be almost anything you want it to... Read More
Is the PRC Ditching the Nine Dash Line? Without any ambiguity, the People’s Republic of China has announced that it considers itself and not the United States the boss in the South China Sea. Its most assertive statement of this principle was to send the HYSY 981 rig, escorted by a flotilla of dozens of... Read More
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A Dangerous Game for Washington
In a recent round of finger pointing, the Obama Administration blamed China for being both “dangerous and provocative” in its crisis in relations with Vietnam. The specific incident that led to the rebuke was rioting in Vietnam in response to a Chinese oil drilling rig being placed in disputed waters in the South China Sea.... Read More
And...Island Games: Okinotorishima vs. Johnson South Reef
My Twitter feed contained the following ringing statement: To paraphrase Napoleon on the Pope, how many battalions does the frickin’ passive voice have? “Must be prevented”. That’s the problem with the pivot. The "pivot to Asia" is an idea. It's not a doctrine, like the Monroe Doctrine, the Truman Doctrine, the Eisenhower Doctrine, or the... Read More
First off, Vietnam. There has been some bewilderment expressed as to why Vietnamese--demonstrating against the PRC’s provocative positioning of its HYSY 981 oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam as part of its Exclusive Economic Zone--attacked Taiwanese factories. The answer is depressingly simple. Anti-Chinese prejudice—including prejudice against all Chinese, including Taiwanese Chinese, PRC Chinese, and... Read More
In discussing the issue of why the PRC plunked down the drilling rig HYSY981 off the Vietnamese coast, there seems to be a certain amount of cognitive dissonance plaguing the Western commentariat. Apropos l’affaire HYSY 981,The Asia Society hosted a roundtable on its website composed of the luminaries Daniel Kliman, Ely Ratner, Orville Schell, Susan... Read More
My take on the Chinese oil rig HYSY 981 off the Vietnam coast is up at Asia Times Online. Today the PRC government has offered talks with Vietnam on the issue. Talks have always been on the table with Vietnam, since the PRC is determined to discuss its South China Sea issues bilaterally. On the... Read More
Jonathan Schell (1943-2014) and the Fate of the Earth
“Up to a few months ago, Ben Suc was a prosperous village of some thirty-five hundred people.” That is the initial line of The Village of Ben Suc, his first book, a copy of which I recently reread on a plane trip, knowing that he was soon to die. That book, that specific copy, had... Read More
[The following interview from Chris Appy’s 2003 book Patriots: The Vietnam War Remembered From All Sides is used with the kind permission of his publisher, Viking Penguin, and is posted at TomDispatch.com as a memorial to Jonathan Schell, who died on March 25th, and to his work, which will long outlast him.] Rushing into the... Read More
[The Asia Times Online yearender, which appeared on Dec. 22, 2012. It can be reposted if ATOl is credited and a link provided.] The passing year was the People's Republic of China's (PRC) first opportunity to get up close and personal with the United States' pivot back to Asia, the strategic rebalancing that looks a... Read More
 A lot of matches are flying around the Chinese tinderbox.   Fortunately, most parties involved seem more interested in scoring political points than making a genuine and risky effort to push back China. However, as the example of Sarajevo tells us, sometimes wars happen when nations become prisoners of their own posturing.   So it's worthwhile to... Read More
Six days ago, we released our cover story presenting Sydney Schanberg’s stunning account of the American abandonment of hundreds of POWs in Vietnam, their presumed later death at Communist hands, and the decades-long governmental cover-up which thereafter ensued. Since that time, hundreds of websites have reprinted the articles in our symposium or otherwise discussed the... Read More
Topic Classics
The “war hero” candidate buried information about POWs left behind in Vietnam.