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(1,259 posts)
Mon Aug 16, 2021, 03:14 AM Aug 2021

Perspective from a South Vietnamese American [View all]

Today was a difficult, conflicting and sad day to watch unfold in Afghanistan, as it truly to triggered memories of my own family's story after the fall of Saigon.

Both of my parents are from South Vietnam. My father was a physician and officer in the ARVN (Army of the Republic of Vietnam), he was drafted and served in a regime that he will be the first to say was corrupt, incompetent, brutal, autocratic, and rife of nepotism and corruption. And much like the Afghan National Army and Police Force, propped up by billions in US Dollars and American lives lost in the hope that it would one day provide for its own security. After the fall of Saigon, he, as many of our relatives and friends, were rounded up and locked up in reeducations camps, forced to conform to the new ideology what is now the Community Party of Vietnam. While he accepts that he was on the losing side of a terrible war, he has never forgiven the Communist for what they did to him. I imagine that the Taliban have something similar or more brutal in mind.

It was several years after in the early 80's that he and the rest of my family escaped by boat and settled in the US. Everyday of their lives, there is nothing but love and gratitude to the nation that welcomed them as refugees of war. There is no entitlement or anger toward their adopted country, despite the years of bombings and devastation after over a decade of war in their homeland. Impressed with the American social safety net that allowed them to revive their former professional careers, build wealth, watching my brother and I to continue our family's legacy in healthcare, they also have never voted for a single Republican in their lives as US Citizens, making them an outlier among older Vietnamese American Voters

When you speak to my parents, their ill will is for the South Vietnamese regime that failed to protect or fight for them, not the American people who wanted to bring their sons and daughters home from a forever war. Believe me, they have no love for the Communist Party of Vietnam, but they accept that the war was lost because their side let it be lost, because the people under the regime they lived under lacked the will to fight.

For those who say, "how can any country trust the US again after abandoning the Afghans who supported democracy?" The Afghan people must understand deep down why their country folded so quickly to the Taliban, just like my family understands why theirs fell to the North Vietnamese. The people of Afghanistan are responsible of the country they want to fight for. If democracy and equality for women are truly causes that they believe are worth dying and fighting for, then that is what they would have done.

Today was likely a logistical failure and possibly an unforced error in that there probably could have been a more orderly manner that we could have bought more time and evacuated more of our embassy staff, American Citizens, and Afghan allies. But I wholeheartedly agree with President Biden when he said that 1 year, 5 years, or another 10 years of a US Military presence would have lead to the same outcome.

After the fall of Saigon, the fear of Southeast Asia falling to Soviet rule never panned out, and the Vietnamese people found a path to moving on, even if it wasn't under the image of a western styled democracy. I truly hope that the fall of Kabul does not lead to Afghanistan to becoming a base of operations for the next terrorist network, I hope that the Afghan people are tired of the fighting and lives lost, and find a path toward peace and stability with each other.

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