Vietnam is not a place for reformers or dissidents — but it might very well be a harbinger of the future in Iraq and Afghanistan. If you choose to stare back into the Panopticon watching you in Vietnam, prepare for a serve and long-term punishment in return.
Here is part of a report on Vietnam from the Bureau Of Democracy, Human Rights, And Labor 2008:
The government’s human rights record remained unsatisfactory. Citizens could not change their government, and political opposition movements were prohibited. The government continued to crack down on dissent, arresting political activists and causing several dissidents to flee the country. Police sometimes abused suspects during arrest, detention, and interrogation.
Corruption was a significant problem in the police force, and police officers sometimes acted with impunity. Prison conditions were often severe. Individuals were arbitrarily detained for political activities and denied the right to fair and expeditious trials. The government continued to limit citizens’ privacy rights and tightened controls over the press and freedom of speech, assembly, movement, and association.
The government maintained its prohibition of independent human rights organizations. Violence and discrimination against women remained a concern. Trafficking in persons continued to be a significant problem. Some ethnic minority groups suffered societal discrimination. The government limited workers’ rights and arrested or harassed several labor activists.
The United States fought a long war in Vietnam and now, we must wonder, nearly half a century later, if that military effort was worth it or not; and we must also be brave enough to ask if this sort of ongoing national chaos and governmental degradation of the human spirit still happening in Vietnam will, in some way, predict the aftermath of the USA’s similar involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq.
That is shocking and unfortunate that they are being treated that way. Dissent is one of the fundamental rights people should have.
I think the idea of a real dissent is being crushed around the world, Gordon. We’ve seen it in Vietnam, North Korea, Russia, China and even the good ole USA during the previous eight years.
We need to protect that right for the minority to always be heard against the majority: NO EXCEPTIONS!
We need to ask only one question – is it worth it? Everything gets paid back…I suppose!
Payback is the big issue, Katha, and I’m glad it seems Obama is determined to get us out so we can take our lumps for going in there any way. I have no idea what was won in Iraq. It seems like there are only losses on both sides.
Sick lesson, David. We’ll be back in the Middle East in 30 years with new plan and way of life for them to lead.
I fear you’re right about that, Anne. We learn very little from cultural invasions.