Communist North. Democratic South. What were they fighting for? History often claims that each side wanted different things, the North wanted Communism while the South wanted freedom and democracy. Simple enough, on the surface, anyway. If you take a closer look at the motivation for each side to fight, you will be surprised that although the Communist North and Democratic South were bitter enemies, they both had Vietnam’s interest at heart. It is important to note that in this case, when I say North Vietnam, I am actually referring to the citizens and soldiers of the North, not the Communist leaders such as Ho Chi Minh and Le Duan. The soldiers in the North didn’t pick up their guns in the name of Communism, it was Vietnam that the Northern soldiers were fighting for. Unlike the North, the South was not taken in by the lies of Communism, but like the North, the South truly loved the country. Both sides wanted a free and independent Vietnam and both sides wanted Vietnam to be strong. Unfortunately, ideology, external influences, and the malicious motives of power-hungry individuals (Ho Chi Minh) split the country into two, ultimately dragging the country into a costly and destructive civil war.
It wasn’t Communism that helped win the war for North Vietnam, but rather the patriotism of the Vietnamese people. Ho Chi Minh deceived his supporters, accusing South Vietnam of being a puppet of the U.S and other foreign powers. This allegation, however false it my be, struck the nerve of many Vietnamese people within his influence. One of the strongest (if not the strongest) forces that motivated the North Vietnamese soldiers to keep fighting was their determination to defend Vietnam’s independence. The Viet Minh (old Viet Cong) had just expelled the French imperialists from the Vietnamese nation and viewed the Americans as the new invaders to the sacred land. It was this reason that the North fought so fiercely against the U.S. and it was for this reason that the Americans lost. The North Vietnamese soldiers never fought with Communism on their minds, but instead fought with the freedom and well-being of Vietnam on their minds. Ho Chi Minh only gained widespread support because he claimed to fight for these ideals. Through propaganda, lies, and deceit, he successfully turned the North against the South, Vietnamese against Vietnamese, and patriots against patriots.
South Vietnam fought for the same ideals as the North: a free and independent Vietnam. The only difference is that they saw the truth behind the lies, what Ho Chi Minh’s real intentions were, and that Communism was not good for the nation. The Republic of Vietnam (aka South Vietnam) understood the detrimental consequences that Communism would bring to Vietnam, so therefore, they were willing to go to war with the North. The outbreak of the war was triggered by Ho Chi Minh, the South under President Diem simply stood their ground, resisting the northern invaders.
By now it should be clear that both the people of North (except Ho Chi Minh, of course) and South wanted what was best for Vietnam. The dictator Ho Chi Minh rallied the Northern troops with his false claims of freedom and peace while President Ngo Dinh Diem defended his own people, fighting for truth and democracy. It is possible to argue that the South simply had a better understanding of what was best for Vietnam. The North was blinded by false hope and blatant patriotism that later evolved into deep hatred and contempt for the South caused by the ingenious and wicked propaganda orchestrated by the cunning and deceitful Ho Chi Minh. Communism didn’t win the war, the national loyalty and devoted love of one’s country helped the North defeat the Americans. The subsequent American pull-out and abandonment of the South resulted in the Communist takeover of the entire country in 1975.