In the United States of America, 13 state governments, seven counties and 85 cities in 20 states have adopted resolutions recognizing the former flag of the Republic of Vietnam as the ”Vietnamese Heritage and Freedom Flag”. This is very controversial as this flag was neither a product of Vietnamese nationalism nor a heritage symbol. The yellow flag with the three red stripes is in fact a imperial colonial symbol. Used by the puppet emperor Bảo Đại, when Vietnam was under Japanese and French control!
Bảo Đại, a puppet emperor installed by the Japanese in 1945 and later made chief of the State of Vietnam, a puppet regime of the French. The yellow flag was by all means a symbol of a puppet monarchy and colonial collaboration. After 1955 it became the flag of the Republic of Vietnam, a client state of American imperialism that was kept alive by billions of dollars and the U.S Army. After the USA pulled out of Vietnam, the puppet state collapsed and the nation was unified under the true Heritage and Freedom Flag, the red flag with yellow star of the Viet Minh!
40 years have passed since the tanks of the Vietnamese People’s Army entered the Presidential Palace in Saigon. Win-out American air support, the Army of the Republic of Vietnam was unable to stop the advancing North Vietnamese. The ARVN was equipped with modern American made weapons, but since their commanders always stood under American controllers, they did not know how to act independent. South Vietnamese commanders could not fight on their own. This is reflected by the mass panic that erupted after the North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam in December 1974. With the support of 1 million NLF (Viet-Cong) guerrilla’s, the North Vietnamese were able to take the whole south in less then four months. On 30 April 1975, the Republic of Vietnam collapsed and the 30 year war in South Vietnam was over!
Many Vietnamese who fled the Stalinist regime after 1975, have entered a fantasy world. In this world, the former South Vietnamese soldiers and the USA remain the ”good guys” and the symbols of the Republic of Vietnam, are seen as symbols of ”democracy” and ”liberty”. Poisoned by the anticommunists and the former ruling class of South Vietnam, the victims of Stalinist oppression are drilled to oppose socialism and fight for a bourgeois-capitalist Vietnam. It is very difficult for the post-1975 generation of Vietnamese Americans to brake with this dogma. Hatred of the ”communists” is so strong that democratic values only apply to the anticommunists. There is a huge social stigma on socialist ideals and most socialists are denounced as ”enemies” by their parents and families. To use the flag of Vietnam (the red flag with yellow star) as a Vietnamese American is very controversial!
Those who fled unified Vietnam remain loyal to the Republic of Vietnam. As the post-1975 generation is raised anticommunist and supportive of the South Vietnamese flag, they react hostile when the current flag of Vietnam is displayed. Students from Vietnamese origin demand the South Vietnamese to be raised in schools and universities, proofing how deep their loyalty is to a regime that was never democratic nor free. The South Vietnamese flag stands for colonial regimes that served French and American imperialism. But since most Vietnamese who live in the USA fled Stalinist oppression and poverty, they are led to believe that South Vietnam was the better state. We see this nostalgia also among East Germans. Although the German Democratic Republic was a police state like South Vietnam, many elderly still think back to the days when their government seemed to care for them. South Vietnamese never had a state with a strong social safety net. The Republic of Vietnam was a corrupt-capitalist state which left its poorest to rot in the streets. There is only one reason why the Vietnamese Americans still glorify South Vietnam: They cannot live with the fact that they lost the war!
The roots of anticommunist Vietnam lay in the short empire created by the Japanese. On 11 March 1945, the Empire of Vietnam was proclaimed with Bảo Đại as emperor. However this empire only lasted a few months. In August the monarchy collapsed as the Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh took over. In Hanoi his supporters created the Democratic Republic of Vietnam. However when 200.000 Chinese nationalist troops came to disarm the Japanese, Ho Chi Minh called for the French to return. He hoped that after their own occupation by the Germans, the French would support him in his quest for Vietnamese independence. But the anticommunist French wanted their colonial empire back. So the Viet Minh were forced back into the jungle. Bảo Đại was again installed as chief of the State of Vietnam in 1949 by the French!
French imperialism used the State of Vietnam as a puppet. Their goal was to keep Ho Chi Minh in the jungle, but many Vietnamese rejected Bảo Đại by now. The Battle of Dien Bien Phu in March 1954, marked the end for French colonialism in Indochina. Viet Minh forced defeated 20.000 colonial soldiers which forced France to talk with Ho Chi Minh. Vietnam was split into an ”communist” north and an anticommunist south. Cambodia and Laos were turned into monarchies which supported western imperialism. Many nationalists were furious that ”Uncle Ho” agreed to split their nation. The plan was to hold elections in the whole of Vietnam, but the USA feared that a ”communist” victory would result in a popular victory for other anti-imperialist forces in Laos and Cambodia. No elections were ever held and Ho Chi Minh lost a lot of power to radical members of his communist party!
In South Vietnam, Ngô Đình Diệm was installed as president. His autocratic regime matched that of Syngman Rhee in South Korea. Both presidents were deeply anticommunist and used their secret police forces to arrest, torture and murder anybody they called ”communist”. The USA knew about the undemocratic nature of Ngô Đình Diệm, but he was seen as their strong man and kept in office. Although a loyal puppet of western imperialism, the president of South Vietnam became deeply unpopular for his elitist lifestyle and his treatment of Buddhist monks. As a Catholic-Christian, Ngô Đình Diệm rejected Buddhism and suppressed it. The Xá Lợi Pagoda raids led to the death of many innocent monks. Generals of the Army feared that the population would became more supportive of the National Liberation Front (NLF) or Viet-Cong, as a result of the raids. So they plotted a coup against the president!
The coup began on 1 November 1963. With support from the CIA, rebel ARVN units assaulted the presidential palace guarded by 1.500 troops loyal to the president. 44 presidential guards were wounded, but only four people were killed. Among the four deaths were president Ngô Đình Diệm and his brother. They were captured and murdered. Dương Hiếu Nghĩa was the officer who carried out the murder. After the collapse of South Vietnam in 1975, Nghia spent at least a dozen years in various re-education camps. In 1992, he was allowed to emigrate to the United States under the Humanitarian Orderly Departure Program!
With the murder of their first president, South Vietnam became a military junta. For about one year, the military ruled the south in a typical junta style. But the USA wanted a strong man to lead the Republic of Vietnam. So in June 1965, Nguyễn Văn Thiệu was installed as the face of Vietnamese anticommunism. He would rule the south until April 1975. Two years after Thiệu became president, he promised ”democracy and freedom”, this is why the the American media portrayed his regime as ”Free Vietnam” or ”Democratic Vietnam”. But his promise of democracy was as empty as the north’s propaganda about socialism. South Vietnam was not a democracy and never became one under the rule of Thiệu!
As a corrupt nation, most wealth was centralized into the hands of capitalists, friends of the military junta and those who exploited the weak and the poor. Many woman had to sell their bodies to earn a living. During the war, many girls became sex objects for American soldiers. This was organized by the South Vietnamese government who sold their own woman into prostitution. About 50.000 babies were born as a result of unprotected sex between Vietnamese prostitutes and American soldiers. These children faced a hard life in post-war Vietnam, as the new regime regarded them as inferior to ethnic Vietnamese. Many choose to leave and travel to the western world as Vietnam embraced commercialism and (state)capitalism after 1986!
The ARVN was the main fighting unit of the Republic of Vietnam. It boosted between 400.000 to 700.000 personal between 1955 and 1975. Although a strong army on paper, it was in fact a puppet of the United States Army. The Americans organized an anticommunist world army made up nation supportive of South Vietnam. It was called the ”Free World Military Forces” (FWMF) and made up of 8 nations. Out of these only 3 were ”democratic” in nature. Nations like Fascist Spain, South Korea, the Philippines and Thailand were autocratic right-wing nations ruled by anticommunists. The military government of South Korea delivered 2/3 of the FWMF and their soldiers fought with great cruelty. 300.000 South Koreans fought alongside 500.000 Americans to keep South Vietnam part of the anticommunist world!
Media in South Vietnam was not free and all radio channels were state owned. It was forbidden to print anti-government newspapers as this were called ”communist” propaganda. South Vietnam started with television in 1966 and had two channels. One was operated by the American Forces Network, used to spread pro-war propaganda among the G.I’s. The American Radio Network stayed on the air until the collapse of South Vietnam in April 1975. It famously played Irving Berlin’s “White Christmas” as a signal for Americans that the final evacuation of Saigon had begun. With the Americans leaving, the media of South Vietnam was turned into a weapon for the ruling caste of the new ”socialist” republic. Even today the media remains not free, although it is far less restrictive!
The myth that the south was a free nation is still drilled into the minds of many veterans of the Vietnam War. At memorials the banner of South Vietnam still flies next to the banner of the nation that caused so much harm. Had the Americans accepted elections in 1954 then there would not have been a Vietnam War. But the anticommunists in Washington DC feared a domino effect. 58.000 American boys had to die, before America pulled out. 2 million Vietnamese were killed between 1955 and 1975. Almost 1 million of them murdered by American B-52 bombers, who dropped more bombs on Hanoi then on Berlin. The South Vietnamese flag does not stand for freedom. It is a symbol of colonialism, imperialism and death. Only dogmatic anticommunists remain loyal to the myth which western imperialism created in the 1950’s of a ”Free Vietnam”!