19 December 2015

Epilogue to Indochina

I heartily recommend the recent Frontline programme: Terror in Little Saigon. It was an interesting and refreshing look into the Vietnamese-American community and their activities during the 1980's and beyond. It reveals a little known epilogue to the war in Indochina. The repercussions of that war and its aftermath live on to this very day.

The US utilized Thailand as a base for operations in Indochina, even after 1975. They supported Laotian and Vietnamese guerillas as well as the Khmer Rouge after their 1979 ouster. By defeating the Khmer Rouge, Vietnam essentially gained control of Cambodia and made it a satellite. Pol Pot became something of an informal ally to the United States, a proxy force to be utilized, and was backed by both Carter and Reagan.

Thailand has long been a base for US operations in the region. It sits adjacent to French Indochina, straddles the Golden Triangle, home to the opium that the CIA utilized to fund many operations, and also sits on the Chinese and Burmese frontier. It's a very strategic spot and it comes into the Frontline report.

Basically the US was supporting a guerilla/militia movement that operated out of the United States within the Vietnamese exile community and also had a forward operating base in Thailand. US Intelligence was supporting them both financially and in terms of arms, but in addition, these groups assassinated critics and anyone who worked to expose them. There was a secret war going on in the various Little Saigon's across America. The heart of the story is the perpetration of these crimes and the obvious US government collaboration in covering them up and suppressing any investigation.

I was waiting for a name to come up and I was not disappointed. The trail leads back to Richard Armitage, the figure referred to in my house as the real-life Jason Bourne. An ex-assassin, he's a dark but certainly fascinating figure that has been involved in many clandestine intelligence and paramilitary operations. He was one of the important figures in Southeast Asia and his name had recently come up again in another documentary on America's last days in Vietnam. He was involved in the operations to evacuate the South Vietnam's navy in 1975. He keeps turning up everywhere and straddles the military, intelligence, political and corporate worlds.

Of course some figures fell afoul of Praetorian protection. Exiled Hmong leader Vang Pao while based in California was involved in a plot to overthrow the government of Laos. While this would have certainly been encouraged if not supported during the 1980's, by the early 2000's this was no longer in accord with US policy. It is one of the ironies of history but at this point the US would rather befriend and support the regimes in Vietnam and Laos in order to counter China.

But for the Hmong, the war has never really ended. Sporadic fighting related to America's Indochina Wars was still going on into the 2000's.

With regard to Vang Pao's attempted coup, there are a couple of possibilities. One, this could have been a genuine off-reservation attempt by Pao and disgruntled ex-military allies in the United States to overthrow the government of Laos.

Or, this could have been tacitly supported by the US Praetorians, and yet the plan was exposed by other elements within the US government. Remember the CIA and other like elements often act 'below the radar' and clandestinely fund their operations. Their greatest fear is exposure by other official elements within the US justice system. They act in the spirit of Oliver North and John Singlaub, breaking the law as 'true blue patriots' so to speak. They believe the political bureaucracy represents the 'infiltrated enemy' and that even though they're operating illegally, they are morally in the right and will ultimately be vindicated.

It's possible their operation was busted, breaking up the plan but then higher forces intervened because all charges were ultimately dropped.

The documentary doesn't really get into the Laotian element but it exposed the numerous shadowy and secret worlds and mini-wars that occur within the confines of the US empire. It demonstrates corruption and subversion and exposes something of the nature and method of the Praetorians, the national-security state or whatever we might wish to call it.

Of course in all these machinations whether in Indochina, Europe, Latin America or Africa there have been many Christians involved who like these former South Vietnam army figures feel no shame. They have lost their moral compass so to speak and have seared their consciences. They support evil deeds and embrace Consequentialism... let us do evil that good may come.

American Christians lost their way and got caught in the struggles and passions of American empire. They adopted different ethics, ones adamantly opposed to Scriptural norms and expectations. The South Vietnamese government especially under Diem was said to be filled with many good Roman Catholic allies. Is this their ethic? Revenge and murder? Is this what they were supporting? Diem's record was pretty dubious, that of the various administrations involved in Vietnam are even worse.

It's a world of lies and murder and this is true not only in sphere of military and political men, but in the world of law enforcement and investigation. Politics always reigns supreme and men will kill anyone who dares to tell the truth about them. We as Christians are called to be people of the truth and if that offends someone or they reckon it treasonous, then their conflict is not with us but with the Lord of Heaven, the One who is Truth.

We are called to bear witness and suffer the consequences. That's no easy calling and one much harder and far more humbling than picking up guns and plotting the overthrow of governments. That acquisition of power is pleasing to the flesh to be sure, but we're called to mortify our sinful natures and self-desire.

The shadowy underworld of buried secrets that is momentarily revealed in this documentary is not unique. It's in every city and it is the fruit of every political struggle and war. People harbour dark narratives and keep the truth in the dark fog of the lies spun by the Beast and its servants.



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