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French Colonialism and U.S. Neo-Colonialism
After a series of French military incursions between 1859 and 1885, Vietnam was brought into French Indo-China. The beginning of the collapse of French Indo-China, and indeed of European imperial powers in general, was set in motion by World War II. In 1941, the Japanese invaded Vietnam. The war against the Japanese accorded Ho Chi Minh the opportunity to take Hanoi. From 1946 to 1954 the French and Ho’s forces engaged and North and South Vietnam were established in the Geneva Accord in 1954, with the French position eliminated.
It would be naïve to believe that the USA pursued a friendly attitude towards its World War II Allies in regard to the future of the European empires after the war. The USA was just as committed to destroying the European empires as was the USSR, as both sought to fill the vacuum. It is evident from Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) historian Peter Grosse’s comments that the oligarchs rivaled the USSR as the patrons of anti-colonialism. Grosse writes:
Indochina was seen as a French colonial problem; the consensus of the wartime studies was that France could never expect to return to its Southeast Asian colonies in force, and the region would necessarily become a geopolitical concern of the United States as the emerging Pacific power.
Grosse mentions that the leader of the communist/nationalist insurgents against French rule in Indo-China, Ho Chi Minh, had been met by members of “The Inquiry” in their capacity as President Wilson’s advisers at the Paris Peace Conference after World War I. Grosse writes:
After the Korean War ended in 1953, the Council returned to a serious examination of Indochina, where France’s restored colonial regime was clashing with the guerrilla forces of a self-described Marxist revolutionary named Ho Chi Minh, whom members of the Inquiry had first encountered as one of the obscure nationality plaintiffs at the Paris Peace Conference more than three decades earlier.
In November 1953 a CFR study group released its first report on Indo-China stating that the Viet Minh rebellion did not represent a communist threat. The report stated of the rebellion against the French in Indo-China:
The war was “far larger than anything” the policy thinkers supposed…. It was wrong to see Ho’s Vietminh forces as simply a forward guard of world communism; nothing in Moscow’s designs could explain the size and violence of the Vietnamese rebels. Marxism “has little to do with the current revolution,” rather, it was pent-up nationalism, pure and simple. With France discredited by its colonial past, the opportunity was opening for the United States to guide Ho’s revolutionaries away from their irrelevant Marxist rhetoric.
Although Grosse does not suggest anything of the type, it is tempting to theorize that Ho had been spotted as far back as 1919, among other colonial revolutionists at the Paris Peace Conference, and kept in mind for future cultivation, as per the dialectical, long-range strategy of the oligarchs. That dialectical long range-strategy might not have consisted of anything more than allowing Ho to achieve power in the entirety of Vietnam over the course of pursuing several decades of what many military professionals and conservatives at the time referred to as a “no win war” in Vietnam.
While such American conservatives view the “no win war” in Vietnam as the result of communist subversion of the USA for the purposes of destroying America’s military, morale and economy; it is my theory that a “no win” policy was pursued to allow the communists (nationalists) to take Vietnam in its entirety to form a unified state, such a prolonged “no-win” war having so drained the new nation that Vietnam would be obliged to seek credit and economic development via international finance.
Hence, Vietnam would go like most of the other decolonized states: from European colonial status to the neo-colonialism of international finance and the transnational corporations. If this dialectical theory sounds too far-fetched or “conspiratorial” perhaps it might be considered that a war-weary Europe was colonized precisely in such a manner via the Marshall Plan, which was the reason “aid” was rejected by the Soviet bloc; the USSR seeing this as the means by which Europe would be subjugated by U.S.-based global capital.
Whatever the motives, the outcome was the elimination of France from Indo-China, and despite the revolutionary rhetoric of the Viet Minh, what in recent years seems to be the inexorable entry of Vietnam into the world economy.
Vietnam’s Path to Globalization and Market Economy
Is the above mere conjecture? It is indeed a fact that: (1) Vietnam having once been a primarily agricultural country, had its agricultural foundations wrecked by the prolonged war, and (2) Vietnam, having been so exhausted, has sought relief in market economics and debt finance.
Vietnam would not have been the first country to be plunged into war for the primary reason of imposing a “market economy.” One of the primary peace demands against Serbia by the NATO forces was that a “market economy” be enacted in place of state planning, especially in regard to the mineral rich region of Kosvo. And of course the Soros/National Endowment for Democracy “color revolutions” have wrought havoc on much of the former Soviet bloc and elsewhere in toppling regimes and inaugurating those in support of an “open society” – i.e., open to exploitation by international capital.
Hence, at the Sixth Congress of the Communist Party of Vietnam in December 1986, reformers led by Nguyen Van Linh achieved a palace coup and embarked on a course of free-market reforms called Đổi Mới (renovation), establishing a so-called “socialist-oriented market economy.” While this might be seen as akin to Lenin’s “New Economy Policy” in the Soviet Union during the 1920s, the USSR might easily have embarked on a course of plutocratic colonization had Trotsky assumed power rather than Stalin, and of course the USSR did eventually succumb.
Perhaps the easiest way of gauging the degree to which a state has been subjugated by international capital is to consider reports from entities such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. The World Bank states of Vietnam:
…During this period, the World Bank Group’s relationship with Vietnam has also matured and grown considerably. The Country Partnership Strategy for FY07-FY11 supports the Government’s Socio-Economic Development Plan 2006-2010, which lays out a path of transition towards a market economy with socialist orientation, with the goal of attaining middle income country status by 2010.
“A market economy with socialist orientation” is the dialectical synthesis that the oligarchy considers the most desirable form of economy. The World Bank states that:
Vietnam has become increasingly integrated with the world economy and has become a member of the World Trade Organization…. Recent growth is driven by the rising importance of the private sector. The role of the state sector in manufacturing activity has declined appreciably: from 52 percent in 1995 to under 35 percent in 2006… Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) commitments almost doubled, to $20.3 billion, whereas stock market capitalization reached 43 percent of GDP by end 2007, compared to 1.5 percent two years earlier. The level of public debt, at 42 percent of GDP, is moderate and is considered to be sustainable. The indebtedness is similar to other ASEAN countries. The baseline scenario of the most recent Debt Sustainability Analysis (DSA) by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is broadly in line with the investment and growth outlook of the SEDP. It estimates public and publicly-guaranteed debt to increase from 44 percent of the GDP in 2007 to around 51 percent by 2016, and decline slightly thereafter. This increase, though significant, is still considered within manageable limits, especially since more than half of it will remain on highly concessional terms.
While the World Bank overview on Vietnam is enthusiastic as to the privatization of the economy, and the rise of the public debt to over half the GDP, it is a very graphic example of how a supposedly socialist state was quickly integrated into the world economic system, after having been devastated by decades of “no-win war.”