Archive for the VII. Research Category

12 Sources: An Annotated Bibliography on the Hundred Viets (Bach Viet/Baiyue)

Posted in Ancient History, Annotated Bibliography with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 10, 2020 by Ian Pham
Photo by Hugo Heimendinger on Pexels.com*

Introduction:

The following is a collection of sources and excerpts I selected which talk about the ancient ancestors of the Vietnamese people, known in history as the “Hundred Viets” race (Bach Viet/Baiyue).

My original plan was to present the sources in my standard blog format, which is to write about each topic individually, one article at a time. I still intend to do that, so anyone who enjoys my history articles will still have that to look forward to.

At the same time, however, there is so much information that I would like you all to be aware of and see as soon as possible. That way, you know that the information exists, and if you wanted to do a little exploration of your own into our ancient and glorious past, then you can.

That is why I’ve compiled this short list of academic sources about the Hundred Viets. The following are some excellent excerpts quoted directly from the works themselves. They provide some detail into the ancient roots of the Vietnamese people, further demonstrating that Vietnamese history is pretty awesome.

The sources are not organized in alphabetical order, but rather in the order that I believe will make the most sense to the reader and help them see the big picture.

I hope you enjoy this read, and that you find it helpful in discovering and understanding the rich heritage of the Vietnamese people.

Brace yourself, though. It’s a longer read.

Word count: 2709**

Estimated reading time: 15-19 minutes

*photos in this article are presented primarily for aesthetic purposes, and, while they could be, are not necessarily related to the topics discussed
**word count does not include the standard bibliography at the end of the article (word count with bibliography: 2955)

1. Murphey, Rhoads. East Asia: A New History, Fifth Edition. Boston: Longman. 2010.

The Yue kingdom had included the related people and culture of what is now northern Vietnam… In Han times, the southern people and culture of Yue were regarded as foreign and were in fact very different from those of the north. More than traces of these differences remain even now, including the Cantonese language and cuisine… The people and culture of Vietnam were still more different, and they regained their independence from China after the fall of the Han. (Murphy 2010: 60)

Photo by Irina Iriser on Pexels.com

The name Viet (Yue in Chinese) derives from the name of an ancient kingdom that existed during the Warring States Period (sixth to third centuries BCE) on the southeastern coast of what is now China. The name came to be applied by the ancient Chinese to peoples on their southern frontier… Nam Viet (Chinese Nan Yue, meaning “South Viet”) was the name of an ancient kingdom in southern China. (Murphey 2010: 188)

Chronology…

  • … 220 BCE: Qin conquer northern Vietnam kingdom of Yue
  • … 111 BCE to 220 CE: Han conquest of Yue, northern Vietnam

(Murphy 2010: 189)

2. Holcombe, Charles. A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011.

The new nineteenth-century name Vietnam was consciously intended to evoke the memory of an ancient (208-110 BCE) kingdom called Southern Viet (pronounced Nam Viet in Vietnamese). Because the capital of that ancient Southern Viet kingdom had been located at the site of the modern city of Guangzhou (in English, Canton), in China, however, nineteenth-century Vietnam was obviously somewhat further south… The reason, then, why the capital of the ancient kingdom of Southern Viet was… located north of modern Vietnam in what is now China, was because the very earliest Bronze Age kingdom called Viet (in Chinese, Yue 越), from which all of these names presumably ultimately derived, had been located even further north, in the vicinity of the modern Chinese Province of Zhejiang, almost halfway up the coast of what is today China! Early Chinese texts, in fact, referred to most of what is now southeast China as the land of the “Hundred Viets.” (Holcombe 2011: 9)

3. Nguyen, Dieu Thi. “A mythographical journey to modernity: The textual and symbolic transformations of the Hung Kings founding myths.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, no. 2 (2013): 315-37.

The origin or founding myth of Vietnam is ‘Truyen Hong Bang’ (The tale of Hong Bang)… According to the tale, King Kinh Duong, who belonged to the bloodline of the Northern Than Nong (in Chinese Shen Nung, or the Divine Farmer) on his paternal side, and to the Immortals on his maternal side, ruled over the Southern realm named Xich Qui Quoc (The Red-haired Devils’ Realm)… During a journey to the Water Realm, Kinh Duong married a Dragon Spirit, who gave birth to one son, Sung Lam, also known as Lac Long Quan (Dragon Lord of the Lac)… The Dragon Lord met Au Co, an Immortal from the Mountainous Realm, and was smitten by her beauty… The quoc dan (realm’s people) over which they ruled were known as the Bach Viet (One hundred Viet), noted for their custom of tattooing as taught by their Dragon Lord-Father to ward off crocodiles and other aquatic creatures. (Nguyen 2013: 318-19)

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

4. Cameron, Judith. “Textile Crafts in the Gulf of Tongking: The Intersection Between Archeology and History.” In The Tongking Gulf Through History, edited by Nola Cooke, Li Tana, and James A. Anderson: 25-38. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2011.

According to Vietnamese folk history, the earliest groups in the Red River region had no knowledge of spinning and weaving until the time of the Hùng kings, the first indigenous chiefdom centered on the Red River valley. It was ruled by kings who claimed descent from a heroic ancestor, the Lạc dragon lord, who had come from the sea, subdued evil elements in the region, and civilized the people by teaching them to cultivate rice and weave clothes. (Cameron 2011: 31)

The spinning and weaving data from these excavations provide firm evidence for the introduction of textile technology into the Red River valley by late prehistoric groups belonging to the Tanshishan culture (probably Yue) from Fujian Province. (Cameron 2011: 30-37)

5. Milburn, Olivia. “A Virtual City: The ‘Records of the Lands of Yue’ and the Founding of Shaoxing.” Oriens Extremus, vol. 46 (2007): 117-46.

The city of Shaoxing 紹興, in what is now northern Zhejiang province, is one of China’s oldest recorded planned cities. At the time of its foundation in 490 BCE, the city was intended to function as the capital city of the independent and culturally distinct kingdom of Yue 越, at that time on the southern edge of the Chinese world. It was laid out by order of King Goujian of Yue 越王勾踐 (r. 496-465 BCE), the most famous monarch of that kingdom, who played a crucial role in the political life at the very end of the Spring and Autumn period (771-475 BCE). (Milburn 2007: 117)

There are fundamental problems with understanding any Yue text, in that many aspects of the cultural and linguistic background are unknown, and completely different from those recorded in other ancient Chinese texts. ” (Milburn 2007: 118)

It was only towards the end of the Spring and Autumn period that the people of the Zhou confederacy began to become aware of the Yue peoples in the south. The Yue peoples, related culturally and linguistically but not politically (and indeed often at war with each other) stretched along the coast from what is now southern Jiangsu province down the coast to northern Vietnam. (Milburn 2007: 118)

Photo by Suraphat Nuea-on on Pexels.com

Every reference in ancient Chinese texts to the people of the south, particularly to the kingdom of Yue, spoke of their unusual appearance and strange customs. The people of Yue were regarded as alien by the inhabitants of the Central States since they wore their hair cut short and they were tattooed. In addition to that they were a riverine and coastal people, travelling by boat rather than by horse and cart. They were highly bellicose, with a reputation for great bravery. This was enhanced by the widespread use in Yue culture of swords, generally admitted to be of unparalleled quality. To the people of the Central States (whose records provide virtually everything that is known of the Yue people prior to the archaeological discoveries of the last half century), the Yue were exotic and dangerous. (Milburn 2007: 119)

6. Hartmann, John, Wei Luo, Fahui Wang, and Guanxiong Wang. “Sinification of Zhuang place names in Guangxi, China: a GIS-based spatial analysis approach.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, no. 2 (2012): 317-33.

Zhuang, the largest minority language in China, is the label given to a variety of Tai languages and dialects spoken mostly in Guangxi. As a result of the process known as Sinification or Sinicisation stemming from the influx of Han soldiers and settlers moving in from many directions, but primarily the north, many Zhuang place names (toponyms) were changed to Han or pronounced with a Han accent or spelled in Chinese in such a way as to obscure the original Zhuang form. (Hartmann et al. 2012: 317)

The origin of the Zhuang can be traced to the ‘Baiyue’ peoples in southern China, recorded in history as early as in the Eastern Zhou Dynasty (475-221 BC) (e.g. Pan 2005). Historically, the Zhuang were farmers who specialised in growing rice in irrigated fields called naa in Zhuang languages. They lived primarily in thousands of villages or small towns in the lowlands close to rivers and streams that were dammed to divert water into the naa. The history of the Zhuang, like other minorities in Chinese frontier regions (e.g. Herman 2007), is marked by a relentless series of violent conflicts with their northern neighbour, the Han (the Chinese majority). (Hartmann et al. 2012: 318)

7. Fu, Songbin, Pu Li, Xiangning Meng, and Yali Xue. “Study on the Distribution of the ‘MSY2’ Polymorphism in 9 Chinese Populations.” Anthropologischer Anzeiger, h. 1 (2005): 23-27.

The Buyi, who came from the ancient “Baiyue” and had the same predecessor with the Zhuang, were relatively closed by living in plains isolated by mountains. (Fu et al. 2005: 26)

8. Weinstein, Jodie L. Empire and Identity in Guizhou: Local Resistance to Qing Expansion. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2014.

In northwestern Guizhou, the Lolo, known today as the Yi predominated, interspersed with small settlements of Han immigrants and Miao. The southwest had a high concentration of Zhongjia (Buyi)… (Weinstein 2014: 17)

To begin answering the question “Who are the Zhongjia?” it will be useful to first examine some modern demographic and ethnographic data. As noted earlier, the Zhongjia have been called the Buyi since 1953. Numbering around 2.9 million, the Buyi today constitute the eleventh-largest minority nationality in the People’s Republic of China. (Weinstein 2014: 19)

Photo by Q. Hung Pham on Pexels.com

The Buyi represent one of many Tai groups in southern China and Southeast Asia… Their closest kin in both ethnolinguistic and geographic terms are the Northern Zhuang, a subgroup within the much larger Zhuang nationality that is found mostly in Guangxi… The Buyi and Northern Zhuang share so many cultural and linguistic similarities that it is impossible to study one group without reference to the other… More distant relatives of the Buyi include the Southern Zhuang of Guangxi and the Nung and Tay of Vietnam. The Buyi also share some cultural and linguistic features with the Dai of southern Yunnan as well as the Thai, Lao, and Shan populations of mainland Southeast Asia. Their extended ethnic family also includes the Dong (Kam), Shui, and Maonan ethnic groups dispersed throughout Guizhou, Guangxi, and Hunan, and the Li of Hainan. (Weinstein 2014: 19)

Archeological findings, linguistic data, and DNA evidence suggest that these Tai-speaking populations all descended from the Hundred Yue (Baiyue) peoples who occupied a vast area of eastern, central, and south- ern China as early as 2000 B.C.E. Two Baiyue civilizations in particular have been linked to the Buyi of Guizhou and their Zhuang neighbors. The Buyi and Northern Zhuang seem to share ancestral ties to the Xi’ou people who inhabited the West River basin along Guangxi’s present-day border with Guangdong. The Southern Zhuang, along with the closely related Nung and Tay, may have descended from the Luoyue people who lived in the area extending from Guangxi’s current provincial capital of Nanning to the Red River basin of northern Vietnam. Like their contemporaries in other Yue societies, the inhabitants of Xi’ou and Luoyue relied primarily on rice farming and other agricultural activities for their livelihood. (Weinstein 2014: 19-20)

9. Ruan, Xing. Allegorical Architcture: Living Myth and Architectonics in Southern China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2006.

The Dong are an ancient but little-known ethnic group who today number more than 2.9 million, a little less than the population of, say, Jamaica. All existing historical records on the Dong are in Chinese, which, as mentioned earlier, was based on various “travel notes” from adventurous Han literati like Lu You. (Ruan 2006: 14)

Photo by Thach Tran on Pexels.com

Generally speaking, the Dong are believed to have originated from a branch of the ancient Luoyue, who are known to have lived in Guizhou at the end of the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220). The Luoyue were native people of the area now inhabited by the Dong. The historically recorded Luoyue customs—tattoos, bronze drums, men and women bathing together in rivers, and the like—are still alive in today’s Dong social life. In some places, even mountains and clans are named Luo. Through time, the ancient Baiyue migrated into this region, mingling with the native population. Other propositions regarding the origins of the Dong associate them with the ancient Yue, the Ouyue, the Ganyue, the Jinyue, and others. In all of these cases, the Dong are thought to have derived from these people. (Ruan 2006: 22)

10. Wang, Feng. “Report of Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics (2012).” Journal of Chinese Linguistics, no. 1 (2013): 246-53.

How to draw genetic trees of languages is an important area where methods and information from mathematics can be brought into evolutionary linguistics… Deng Xiaohua of Xiamen University applied molecular anthropology and lexicostatistics to obtain a genetic tree of Austronesian languages in Taiwan. Based on the analysis of this tree, the BaiYue-Austronesian group was thought to be formed around 4000 B.P. in southeastern China. (Wang 2013: 251)

11. Bush, Richard C. Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. 2005.

In May 2001, scientists in Taiwan announced the results of research on the genetic origins of the island’s Minnan (southern Fujian) majority. This is the part of the population known as Taiwanese, as opposed to mainlanders, Hakkas, and aborigines. The researchers found that they were in fact descended from the Yueh people, who were scattered along the southeastern coast of China during the later Zhou dynasty (770–221 B.C.). The political implication: Taiwanese were not ethnically Chinese.  (Bush 2005: 225)

Photo by Jimmy Chan on Pexels.com

Not to be outdone, PRC researchers announced in December 2001 that four aboriginal groups in Taiwan exhibited a specific chromosomal pattern characteristic of the Li ethnic group on Hainan Island and that all five groups were descended from the Baiyue people of eastern China. The Baiyue were said to have migrated to both Hainan and Taiwan, where they maintained the same lifestyle and customs. The Chinese message: even Taiwan’s aborigines had a connection with the mainland.  (Bush 2005: 225)

12. He, Yinan. “Competing Narratives, Identity Politics, and Cross-Strait Reconciliation.” Asian Perspective, no. 4 (2010): 45-83.

On prehistoric Taiwan, three theoretical models exist in the academic debate: theories of southern origin, arguing that Taiwan’s aborigines are the carriers of the Austronesian languages who originally lived on the islands in Southeast Asia and moved to Taiwan; theories of northern origin contending that the aborigines are descendants of the ancient Baiyue (hundreds of Yue tribes), people who came from southern China, although the Yue people remaining in China have since been assimilated by the Han; and theories suggesting that Taiwan is the land of the Austronesian languages and center of the southern islands culture. (He 2010: 50)

Two pieces of news caught peoples’ eyes in 2001. First, two students of Fudan University compared the gaoshanzu with the osseous remains found in a Yue relic in Maqiao, near Shanghai, and claimed that their chromosome match was 50 percent or more. In the other report, the Institute of Genetics of the Chinese Academy of Science concluded that the Li minorities living in Hainan Island today share ancestors with four gaoshanzu groups because their chromosome type is the same as the Baiyue people in Zhejiang province but differs from Southeast Asian people. (He 2010: 51)

Conclusion:

That’s all (for now), folks! As you can see, the Vietnamese people have an ancient ancestry. Our influence vast, and our historical impact immense. Hope you enjoyed the read.

Bibliography (standard and alphabetical):

Bush, Richard C. Untying the Knot: Making Peace in the Taiwan Strait. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press. 2005.

Cameron, Judith. “Textile Crafts in the Gulf of Tongking: The Intersection Between Archeology and History.” In The Tongking Gulf Through History, edited by Nola Cooke, Li Tana, and James A. Anderson: 25-38. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. 2011.

Fu, Songbin, Pu Li, Xiangning Meng, and Yali Xue. “Study on the Distribution of the ‘MSY2’ Polymorphism in 9 Chinese Populations.” Anthropologischer Anzeiger, h. 1 (2005): 23-27.

Hartmann, John, Wei Luo, Fahui Wang, and Guanxiong Wang. “Sinification of Zhuang place names in Guangxi, China: a GIS-based spatial analysis approach.” Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, no. 2 (2012): 317-33.

He, Yinan. “Competing Narratives, Identity Politics, and Cross-Strait Reconciliation.” Asian Perspective, no. 4 (2010): 45-83.

Holcombe, Charles. A History of East Asia: From the Origins of Civilization to the Twenty-First Century. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2011.

Milburn, Olivia. “A Virtual City: The ‘Records of the Lands of Yue’ and the Founding of Shaoxing.” Oriens Extremus, vol. 46 (2007): 117-46.

Murphey, Rhoads. East Asia: A New History, Fifth Edition. Boston: Longman. 2010.

Nguyen, Dieu Thi. “A mythographical journey to modernity: The textual and symbolic transformations of the Hung Kings founding myths.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, no. 2 (2013): 315-37.

Ruan, Xing. Allegorical Architecture: Living Myth and Architectonics in Southern China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press. 2006.

Wang, Feng. “Report of Conference in Evolutionary Linguistics (2012).” Journal of Chinese Linguistics, no. 1 (2013): 246-53.

Weinstein, Jodie L. Empire and Identity in Guizhou: Local Resistance to Qing Expansion. Seattle: University of Washington Press. 2014.

U.S. Entry, Tet Offensive, Creighton Abrams, and False Histories – Four Major Takeaways from the ‘Prologue’ in Sorley’s “A Better War”

Posted in Books, Modern History, VII. Research with tags , , , , , , on August 11, 2018 by Ian Pham

U.S. Helicopters in Vietnam(U.S. Army Photo)

There are a few things that one instantly learns upon opening A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam, the 1999 book by historian and U.S. veteran Lewis Sorley. Among them include some introductory facts that every person seeking to learn about the Vietnam War should know about. Here below are a few of these facts, for your convenience:

  • Americans in Vietnam (1960-65): The period when U.S. involvement in Vietnam steadily rises from a primarily advisory role to one of active combat, with ground troops officially deployed in 1965 (p. xi)
  • The Tet Offensive (1968): In this infamous military campaign, the allied nations of South Vietnam and the United States crushed the North Vietnamese and Vietcong invaders, yet the communists achieved an important psychological victory, by scaring the mainstream U.S. media, and consequently, the American public, which contributed greatly to the overall diminishment of public support for the war (p. xi-ii)
  • From Westmoreland to Abrams (1968): The initial start to the U.S.’s active involvement in the Vietnam War under General William C. Westmoreland was one of numerous setbacks and difficulties – this all changed in the spring of 1968, when “Westy” was replaced by General Creighton W. Abrams, a more competent and capable commander that worked better with the South Vietnamese and changed the whole course of the U.S. war in Vietnam (p. xii-iii)
  • Problematic Histories (Then-Now): The previous point highlights the fact that under Westmoreland (1965-68), U.S. efforts in Vietnam were riddled with setbacks and difficulties – These years represent only a fraction of the overall war, but for some reason, it is always the Westmoreland era that most historians and journalists in the U.S. love to focus on, and in the process, ignoring the great allied achievements from 1968 onward – As a result, to this day, most people in the American public are presented with a distorted representation of what really happened in the Vietnam War (p. xiv)

Above are only a few of the many insights that Lewis Sorley instantaneously presents to the reader in his book, A Better War. To acquire more information, I strongly encourage everyone to read Sorley’s book for themselves, and draw a few conclusion of their own.

There are a significant number of works on the Vietnam War out there (albeit buried in a sea of liberal trash) that present fair and balanced accounts of what actually happened in Vietnam. Sorley’s book is simply one among many, and is a very good place to start for anyone interested in studying this complex, fascinating, and ultimately misreported war.

Over the course of my research, I’ve pondered the ways in which to share my findings with you all, and it’s been hard. On the one hand, I want to be clear and concise, but on the other hand, I want to be thorough and comprehensive.

So, after much thought, I’ve decided that the best way to share my discoveries with you all is to do it little by little. In doing so, I am able to focus, a few at a time, on the myriad complex and convoluted issues associated with the Vietnam War and its historiography. With this approach, I hope to eventually establish a solid scholarly foundation, to the benefit of all who are interested in truly understanding the Vietnam War.

I once made a metaphor about a “House of Truth,” in which, brick by brick, I slowly lay the foundations with the hopes that one day, a strong and true story will be told of what really happened during the Vietnam War. Consider this article one more step in that direction, another brick in our House of Truth, placed for the entire world to see, scrutinize, and ultimately understand. As boldly put by author and retired U.S. marine Richard Botkin, “Everything you know about the end of the Vietnam War is wrong.” It is high time that we fixed that.

Hopefully you all enjoyed this brief article and found it to be an insightful read. I look forward to giving you more.

 

Work Cited:

Sorley, Lewis. A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam. New York: Harcourt, Inc. 1999.

Annotated Bibliography: “South Vietnam’s New Constitutional Structure,” by Robert Devereux

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B., Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by Ian Pham

Nguyen Van Thieu SpeechPhotograph via Xac Dinh

Devereux, Robert. “South Vietnam’s New Constitutional Structure.” Asian Survey 8, no. 8 (1968): 627-645.

As its title indicates, this article by Robert Devereux provides analyses of the provisions within South Vietnam’s constitution, which was promulgated officially by Nguyen Van Thieu on April 1, 1967 (p. 628). For anyone interested in exploring in-depth the function and structure of South Vietnam’s democratic system, Devereux’s article is a fantastic starting point.

Following the usual format, this brief blog article will only cover a few of the many important insights about South Vietnamese democracy covered in Devereux’s work. However, the points raised in this entry will be more than enough to prove the credibility of South Vietnam as a true and functional democracy.

To begin, Devereux’s article shows that in 1966, of the estimated population of 14.5 million people in South Vietnam, 5,288,512 were registered to vote, and 4,274,812 did just that. The day of the election was September 11, 1966, and these over four million people went to the polls to elect their new Constituent Assembly, which consisted of 117 members (p. 627).

One year following this important election, a formal presidential election took place on September 3, 1967, resulting in Nguyen Van Thieu’s election as the new President of the Republic of Vietnam (p. 628). Also on that day, 60 new Senators were elected to South Vietnam’s Upper House, and on October 22, 1967, another 137 representatives (called Deputies) were elected to the nation’s Lower House (ibid). In South Vietnam, elections were carried out by universal suffrage and secret ballot (p. 631), a point relevant here for clearly demonstrating the verity of South Vietnam as a democratic nation.

The major events above are mentioned in the introduction to Devereux’s article. The sections following then delve at great length into the various chapters and sections of South Vietnam’s constitution. Covered by Devereux in his article are the many provisions outlining the functions and powers of South Vietnam’s three branches of government: the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial.

The Executive section talks about the powers of the President, the Prime Minister, and the Vice President, and their duties and responsibilities to the National Assembly and other government organs (p. 628-631). In the Legislative section, the process of introducing and approving bills is discussed, with details on how the Senators in the Upper House and the Deputies in the Lower House go through the process of making laws (p. 631-634). Lastly, for the Judicial branch section, the process of selecting judges to the Supreme Court in South Vietnam, as well as details of the country’s judicial process, are examined (p. 634-636).

In addition to these sections, Devereux’s article also talks about other important parts of South Vietnam’s government structure, as covered within the constitution. Specific offices and governmental organs, described as Special Institutions, are discussed (p. 636-640), as well as the functions of Local Administrations in South Vietnam (p. 640-641), and very importantly, in the Political Parties section, the guaranteed rights of opposition parties to form and operate in the Republic (p. 642-643).

Devereux moreover provides important insights on the human rights aspects of South Vietnam’s constitution. In the Bill of Rights section of the constitution, as summarized by Devereux, many statements are presented which guarantee and defend the rights of South Vietnamese citizens. Examples include a line from Article 6 of the constitution, which stipulates that the state is pledged to “respect human dignity, and the law every citizen’s freedom, life, property, and honor,” (p. 641). Furthermore, in Article 8, the document “guarantees the privacy of a citizen’s personal life, home, and correspondence…” and that “Freedom of thought, speech, press and publishing is guaranteed,” (ibid).

In addition to these provisions, the Judicial section previously mentioned also demonstrates many examples of the Republic’s adherence to the rule of law. Articles 7 and 8 of the South Vietnamese constitution express many guaranteed rights to protect its citizens, and include, but are not limited to, the following:

“Every defendant is entitled to a speedy and public trial and to a defense lawyer at every stage of the legal process, including the preliminary investigation.”

“No one can be arrested or detained without a warrant issued by a competent legal authority, except in cases of flagrante delicto.”

“No one can be tortured, threatened, or forced to confess, and any confession obtained by such means cannot be used as evidence.”

“Defendants will be considered innocent until found guilty; in case of doubt the court must find for the defendant.”

“No one can enter, search, or confiscate the property of a person without a properly executed court order, unless it is necessary for the defense of security and public order according to the spirit of the law.” (p. 636).

These provisions outlined clearly illustrate the democratic foundations in which South Vietnam was built. From the information above, it can be clarified that the Southern Republic was one that respected human rights, and one that championed the basic rights and freedoms of its citizens and the rule of law.

Evidences provided in this article clearly demonstrate that South Vietnam was a true liberal democracy. Proven throughout this post, through Devereux’s findings, is universal suffrage, secret ballot elections, a system of checks and balances in government, individual’s rights, constitutional rights, and multiparty democracy in South Vietnam.

For all of its challenges as a young and developing nation, the Republic of Vietnam had all the foundations, and met all the criteria of being a liberal democracy. Further study will continue to prove this fact. In terms of establishing a base for research on this topic, this source by Robert Devereux is an excellent place to begin.

Annotated Bibliography: “Education in Viet Nam,” by Berry E. Morton

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B., Society with tags , , , on April 24, 2016 by Ian Pham

La San Taberd School in Saigon, South VietnamPhotograph via Flickr

Morton, Berry E. “Education in Viet Nam.” Contemporary Education 45, no. 3 (1974): 201-208.

This article examines in detail the growth of South Vietnam’s education system during the nation’s lifespan. From the evidence presented, one will learn that from the nation’s birth in the 1950s up to 1974 when this article was written, South Vietnam’s education system achieved exponential advancement that was nothing short of extraordinary. From elementary, through secondary school, all the way to post-secondary, South Vietnam invested heavily in its education, increasing rapidly its number of schools, student enrollment, as well as its teaching staff, with the active support and assistance both from friendly nations and international organizations from all over the world (p.202).

Morton’s article is filled with valuable statistics and information. This brief entry will only highlight a few, to illustrate just how much value South Vietnam placed on the educational development of its people.

Notable points presented by Morton include South Vietnam’s vast expansion in higher education. According to Morton, “there were no colleges or universities in all of South Vietnam” in 1954. However, by the 1973-74 academic year, South Vietnam had established nine universities, and enrolled a total of 86,000 students to these institutions (p. 201). Moreover, by that same 1973-74 academic year, South Vietnam had also developed “sixteen post secondary two-year teacher training schools, enrolling 9,000 elementary teachers in training; plus two newly operational junior colleges which are part of the recently planned system of two-year post secondary institutions,” (ibid).

At the top of South Vietnam’s priority list was the development of its elementary schools (p. 202). “In 1954,” Morton explains, “there were 8,191 elementary classrooms scattered throughout the nation; very few classrooms were built between 1954 and 1960,” (ibid). With the South Vietnamese government’s investment in education, a staggering 17,000 classrooms were added by the 1970-71 academic year, “making a total of approximately 25,500 classrooms… housing 2,490,246 elementary students,” (p. 203).

During the 1960s, the South Vietnamese Ministry of Education undertook a massive task to reform and develop the country’s secondary school program (junior high and high school), changing the system from an elitist French-colonial structure into a more accessible, “viable and truly Vietnamese secondary school system,” (p. 203-204). This initiative was carried out through the widespread building of classrooms, changing of curriculums and administrations, increasing of enrollment, and an abundant array of other developments. The astronomical growth in South Vietnam’s secondary schools is illustrated by the following information:

In 1956, there were 69,700 students enrolled in the nation’s secondary schools. By 1960 this figure had increased to 165,000 students or about six percent of the youth of secondary school age. By 1970 this figure had increased to 710,541 or about twenty-one percent and during the 1973-74 academic year the total secondary school enrollment is 1,062,000 or about twenty-eight percent of the population group (p. 205).

These statistics of the rapid increase in secondary schools is an indicator of South Vietnam’s success in overhauling its system for schooling youth of the adolescent age group. As a whole, the information presented thus far, regarding the whole South Vietnamese educational system, from elementary all the way to post-secondary, presents a clear representation of the South Vietnamese nation’s emphasis on education, improvement in the quality of life, and the development of its people.

Another interesting point worth noting from Morton’s source is that in South Vietnam, education for the nation’s public universities is free (p. 206). In addition to this, it is also noteworthy that education ranks second among the desires of the South Vietnamese people, with “security from insurgency” ranking first (p. 201).

Morton’s article is lengthy and detailed, containing many more relevant information and statistics regarding South Vietnam’s educational development. This brief annotated bibliographic article only presents some notable highlights. In all, the information presented here should demonstrate South Vietnam as a nation that greatly valued education, and went to all the possible lengths to deliver education to its people.

Annotated Bibliography: “South Vietnam’s Economy – A Note,” by Curtis Crawford

Posted in Economics, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , on April 22, 2016 by Ian Pham

Saigon 1961Photograph via Flickr

Crawford, Curtis. “South Vietnam’s Economy – A Note.” Vietnam Perspectives 1, no. 4 (1966): 14-16.

This is a brief article by Curtis Crawford, written during the Vietnam War years in 1966. With statistics included, the article encapsulates the strong economic growth that South Vietnam was experiencing between 1955 and 1960 under President Diem.

Some notable points from the article include the fact that from 1955 to 1960, South Vietnam’s “per capita food production rose substantially,” with the total crop production overtaking that of the country’s prewar levels. Moreover, Crawford’s article dispels earlier statistics given by Bernard B. Fall, whose findings are reported and proven by Crawford to be “grossly inflated” and distorted in ways that fail to represent the real growth experienced by South Vietnam’s economy.

Although compact, Crawford’s source gives a concise and statistical illustration of the South Vietnamese economy. In the context of understanding South Vietnam’s economic strength during its existence, Crawford’s article demonstrates that the Southern Republic had a robust and vastly developing economy, one that was competitive and highly regarded in the international system.

Annotated Bibliography: “The Blood-Red Hands of Ho Chi Minh,” by John G. Hubbell

Posted in Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , , on June 4, 2015 by Ian Pham

Ho Chi MinhImage via The Australian

Hubbell, John G. “The Blood-Red Hands of Ho Chi Minh.” Reader’s Digest, November 1968. http://www.lzcenter.com/Documents/The%20Blood-Red%20Hands%20of%20Ho%20Chi%20Minh.pdf. (accessed May 24, 2015).

Written in 1968, John G. Hubbell provides invaluable documentation of the crimes against humanity that Ho Chi Minh committed on the people of North and South Vietnam throughout the Vietnam War. As explained by Hubbell, these massacres perpetrated by both the regular forces in the North, and the Viet Cong guerillas in the South, were not isolated incidents, but actually part of Ho Chi Minh’s official policy. The brutality of these actions resulted in countless bloodbaths, and, as the author will illustrate, is nothing short of genocide.

Under Ho’s command, the Viet Cong unleashed a wave of slaughter on the people of South Vietnam. The Viet Cong guerillas, oftentimes assisted by the regular Northern forces, conducted a massive terror campaign against the Republic of Vietnam, subjecting the people of the South, both soldiers and innocent civilians alike, to the most barbaric forms of torture and killing.

At the hands of the communists, entire Southern villages were raided, their inhabitants rounded up and systematically executed in the most primitive and brutal of ways. In some cases, the villages themselves were burned to the ground by the VC. Families of Southern soldiers and government officials were kidnapped, tortured, mutilated, and often killed, either to intimidate, or as retribution against the breadwinner for their political ties. The communists slaughtered indiscriminately, not only killing adult men, but also women, children, the elderly, and even pregnant women and their unborn. At the end of 1967, according to Hubbell, the communists had orchestrated “at least 100,000 acts of terror against the South Vietnamese people.”

In the North, regular communist forces carried out savage political purges against their own population. Beginning in 1954, with the consolidation of power by Ho Chi Minh, “virtually every North Vietnamese village” was met with “strong-arm squads” who rounded up the populace for show trials and executions. The first victims were the landowners, but eventually grew to include intellectuals, civic leaders, businessmen, teachers, and others who the communists viewed as potential threats. Beheading, bludgeoning, shooting, stoning, and live burials, were only some of the gruesome forms of killing that the communists imposed on the North Vietnamese population. It is estimated that between 50,000-100,000 people died in these massacres during that time.

On March 13, 1959, the leaders in North Vietnam resolved to act against the South. It was from there that VC violence was amped up significantly in South Vietnam, becoming widespread throughout the country. Ho Chi Minh and the North wanted to dismantle the Republic of Vietnam, and sought to do so through terror and violence. Using the VC wing of his communist forces, the Northern dictator authorized those heinous terrorist acts against the people of the Republic of Vietnam, in hopes of breaking the Southern will. However, as the author explains, these atrocities would only push the people closer to the arms of the South. Those whom the communists believed would “rise and fight” alongside them against the Saigon government did “just the opposite,” fighting “like tigers” against Ho Chi Minh’s invading forces at Hue in 1968. Moreover, the institutions that the communists aimed to dismantle, such as the education system of South Vietnam, as well as the voting polls, would only become stronger, growing rapidly as the population presses on and perseveres in defiance of communist brutality.

During the war, South Vietnam was heavily criticized for its counter-terrorism measures, which the biased left-leaning U.S. media deemed as harsh and repressive. These characterizations were ill-informed, lacking in context, and heavily in favor of the communists. Understanding the true and horrific nature of the communist terror policy, as Hubbell’s report helps to accomplish, one gains some key perspective on the reasons why South Vietnam was so heavy-handed in dealing with the VC in the South. South Vietnam was facing a major terrorist problem, and had to implement tough countermeasures to effectively defend the state and its citizens from communist terror attacks.

Hubbell’s source brings to light those countless cases of communist barbarity, and doing so in great detail. The vivid accounts given by Hubbell illustrates clearly the criminal governance of the dictator Ho Chi Minh, who, as shown, is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent Vietnamese people, in the North and the South. These deaths were not collateral damage, but the explicit results of the actions performed by the man and his totalitarian state. In addition, Hubbell’s report offers some valuable insight on life in the South, such as the nation’s democratic values and emphasis on education, things that the communists were trying so hard to destroy.

Annotated Bibliography: Robert P. Wettemann Jr.’s Book Review of “Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam,” by Thomas P. McKenna

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , on May 30, 2015 by Ian Pham

KontumPhotograph via Steve Shepard/The Battle of Kontum

Wettemann Jr., Robert P. Review of Kontum: The Battle to Save South Vietnam, by Thomas P. McKenna. Oral History Review 39, no. 2 (2012): 387-389.

Thomas P. McKenna served in the Vietnam War as Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army. During the U.S. drawdown in 1972, McKenna was still fighting alongside the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN), taking on the invading North Vietnamese Army (NVA) at the Battle of Kontum. His book provides a firsthand account of the fighting at Kontum, where the ARVN and their remaining U.S. allies would once again ward off an invading NVA force three times their size.

Robert P. Wettemann Jr. provides a review of McKenna’s book, offering some valuable insight into yet another military achievement by the ARVN and their U.S. allies. Also taking place during the North Vietnamese Easter Offensive in the spring of 1972, the Battle of Kontum saw the South Vietnamese, with the support of the few U.S. forces still in Vietnam, foil another attempt by the communists to overtake the South. The brunt of the fighting took place in the last two weeks in May of 1972, where, in the words of Wettemann, “… a single ARVN division held off the equivalent of three divisions of North Vietnamese soldiers…”

A concise summary of McKenna’s book is presented in Wettemann’s source. Opening with the steady departure of U.S. forces as part of Nixon’s “Vietnamization” policy, Wettemann’s review of Kontum gives coverage of the various stages of the battle, all the way up to the ARVN’s successful elimination of the NVA from the city.

As an academic resource, Wettemann’s review of Thomas P. McKenna’s book provides useful information on the Battle of Kontum, and gives readers some much-needed insight into the points of views of the ARVN and their U.S. allies. The South Vietnamese soldiers and their American advisors fought valiantly at Kontum to crush the North Vietnamese invasion. In authoring this review, Robert P. Wettemann Jr. helps tell this true story of another understated military success by the allied forces of South Vietnam and the United States.

Annotated Bibliography: Gary Lester’s Book Review of “Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam” by Lam Quang Thi

Posted in Books, Modern History, Modern History - A.B. with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 23, 2015 by Ian Pham

ARVN Photo, An Loc BattleImage via Amazon

Lester, Gary. Review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam, by Lam Quang Thi. Air Power History (2010): 56.

Dr. Gary Lester’s review of Hell in An Loc: The 1972 Easter Invasion and the Battle That Saved South Vietnam provides a concise and informative summary of former ARVN General Lam Quang Thi’s book. According to Lester, “Hell in An Loc is an intimate glimpse into the inner workings of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) during its moment of great crisis in the spring of 1972…” It was then that the U.S. was steadily drawing down its forces in Vietnam, while the North Vietnamese built up their forces for an ambitious military operation to overrun South Vietnam.

In his review, Lester presents many insightful information from General Thi’s book, such as the details of North Vietnam’s 1972 Easter Offensive, a massive military campaign that was even larger than the Tet Offensive of 1968. The enemy’s “three-pronged” operation would find its way to the town of An Loc, where South Vietnam’s 5th Division, consisting of only 7,500 soldiers, confronted and repelled a 21,000-strong North Vietnamese onslaught.

Facing a massive invading force three times their size, the outnumbered ARVN forces incurred losses of 2,300 deaths, while dealing a crushing blow to the North Vietnamese Army, who suffered a loss of 6,500 deaths at the hands of the South Vietnamese. The attack on An Loc lasted from April to August of 1972, ending with the successful defense of the town by the ARVN against the invading North. The ARVN forces were provided with powerful air support from their remaining U.S. allies, who, along with the South Vietnamese Air Force, dealt heavy damage to enemy tanks and artillery.

An important note that Lester pinpoints in his review is the valor and bravery displayed by the “too often voiceless” soldiers of South Vietnam, in a significant battle that was largely ignored by American media. An Loc’s omission from America’s news coverage is an important point acknowledged in Lester’s review, a vivid example of the media’s bias towards the Republic of Vietnam, and how the Southern point of view is methodically neglected and distorted by the majority of Western journalists. Lam Quang Thi’s account of the Battle of An Loc, in the words of Gary Lester, “is a testimony to the courage and bravery of the ARVN garrison at An Loc. The book tells the South Vietnamese side of the story and renders justice to the South Vietnamese soldiers who withstood ninety-four days of horror and prevailed.”

Reading Lester’s review alone, one gains great insight into the Battle of An Loc, as well as a clearer understanding of the Vietnam War, a hotly debated subject in which South Vietnam and the ARVN are almost always misrepresented.

Introducing: The Annotated Bibliography

Posted in Annotated Bibliography, II. History, IV. Columns with tags , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2015 by Ian Pham

History

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana

Image and quote via Cal U

It is my pleasure to introduce to you all, the new “Annotated Bibliography” feature of Freedom For Vietnam. This new section will feature reviews and discussions on various research materials, which in our case, will likely mostly consist of academic journals and books. It will not be limited to just these, however.

How it will work is that, every now and then, I will write an article/review about an existing source of research, such as a book or journal article. Each newly published blog article, while being a standalone blog article in itself, will also act as an update to the bibliography, which can be found primarily in the “Categories” section of the blog, with another, truncated and alphabetized version in the “Pages” section at the top.

As of right now, there will be three different annotated bibliographic categories, based on three different eras of Vietnamese history: Ancient History, Dynastic History, and Modern History. The lists will be short at first, but with every new update, with every new article, the categories, and the bibliographies themselves, will continue to grow. In turn, you readers will have an increasingly large pool of references to look at, either for your own research, or just for your own entertainment.

By creating this feature, I want to help provide a place of reference, a foundation, in which we can all further our knowledge of Vietnam’s history. I hope it helps, and I hope you all enjoy it.

* As a side note, all the historical categories listed under “Annotated Bibliography” will be marked with an “A.B.” at the end of the name (e.g. “Modern History – A.B.”), in order to distinguish them from the categories under “A Piece of History,” which carry the same name (minus the “A.B.”), and mark the same time periods. This is important as articles from “Annotated Bibliography” will also be listed under the broader “A Piece of History” section, due to their relevance in this category as well.

Southern Heroes: Le Minh Dao, The 18th Division, and the Battle of Xuan Loc

Posted in IV. Columns, Modern History, VII. Research with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2012 by Ian Pham

“Please, do not call me a hero.  My men who died at Xuan Loc and the hundred battles before are the true heroes.”  – Le Minh Dao, Brigadier General, 18th Division, South Vietnam

On this day, 37 years ago, the tanks of the North Vietnamese Army rolled into the city of Saigon.  The city’s inhabitants gathered frantically outside the gates of the U.S. embassy, begging the Americans to shelter them from the advancing Communists.  That day, thousands of Vietnamese families packed up their entire lives and embarked on a journey across the seas to escape the grasp of Communism.  April 30, 1975 was a dark day in Vietnam’s history, but prior to this fall, the South Vietnamese Army would achieve one last glorious victory.

In the weeks prior to the fall of Saigon, the Communists in the North were still figuring out how to capture the city.  One strategically important location was Xuan Loc, which the Communists planned to capture before moving on to Saigon.  As the 4th Corps of the North Vietnamese Army assembled their forces in the jungle north of the city of Xuan Loc, they were greeted by some unexpected guests.  The 18th Division of the ARVN (South Vietnam), under Brig. General Le Minh Dao, would derail the NVA’s plan to capture Xuan Loc, showing the world that even without the U.S., the ARVN was still a force to be reckoned with.

“Even though we knew we had lost the war, I still fought.  I was filled with despair after the loss of the northern Corps, but I still fight.”

The Battle of Xuan Loc was the last major struggle before Saigon’s fall on April 30, 1975.  With the passionate and inspirational leadership of Brigadier General Le Minh Dao, the 18th Division of the ARVN resisted heavy fire from the Communist forces from April 9-21, when the division was recalled to defend Saigon.  The brilliance of the 18th Division can be seen by its numbers, dealing a miserable amount of pain to the 4th Corps of the NVA.  On the first day of battle, the NVA under Major General Hoang Cam lost more than 700 hundred men to the ARVN and Le Minh Dao, whose losses were below 50 soldiers.  After four days, Cam’s death toll climbed to 2,000, while Dao’s still only in the hundreds, the 4th Corps still had not advanced (Pribbenow & Vieth, 2004: 191-199).

By April 13, the 4th Corps and the North Vietnamese Army were forced to change their strategy.  According to NVA Commander Tran Van Tra, because of the fierce resistance of General Dao and the 18th Division, it was no longer in the interests of the NVA to continue pressing in Xuan Loc (Pribbenow & Vieth, 2004: 200).  From then until April 21, the Communist forces would concentrate their forces in other areas around Xuan Loc, and Le Minh Dao would continue to fight them until receiving orders to return to Saigon.  The general’s retreat was just as masterful as his advance, which required much daring and intellect to outmaneuver the Communist forces.

“I was their general, I wish to be the last man from the 18th ARVN to be released.  I could not look them in the face otherwise.”

Sadly, the success story ends here, with Le Minh Dao’s successful retreat back to Saigon.  From this point onward, South Vietnam would run out of steam, and the ARVN would no longer have the means to fight.  Brigadier General Le Minh Dao and the 18th Division were only few of many brave individuals who sacrificed their lives for the free and democratic South.  On April 30th, even after Duong Van Minh and the Southern government surrendered, Le Minh Dao still wanted to keep fighting.  However, with the knowledge that the corps commander and the deputy had taken their own lives, Dao knew that it was done.  On May 9, Le Minh Dao turned himself over to the Communist forces, serving a prison sentence of 17 years.  He would remain in prison until May 4, 1992, when he was finally released.  Le Minh Dao currently resides in the United States, his accomplishments forever immortalized in the pages of history.

 

Further Reading on the Battle of Xuan Loc:

Pribbenow, Merle L. & George J. Veith.  ”Fighting is an Art: The Army of the Republic of Vietnam’s Defense of Xuan Loc, 9-21 April 1975.”  The Journal of Military History, Vol. 68, No. 1 (Jan., 2004), pp. 163-213.