Tuan Nguyen, VN by boat age 11.College,med and law schools.US Army 90-98.
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A. Four takes on corruption.
- Foreign Policy and the Complexities of Corruption: the Case of South Vietnam. The State Department historian looks back at the relationship between the United States and South Vietnam during the Vietnam War years, assessing the impact that tolerance of corruption in diplomatic partners can have on outcomes.
- Bribes, Corruption and Lost Wars actually makes a lot of sense, and I can attest to the accuracy.
- A Failure of Leadership in South Vietnam is a new book from a counterinsurgency official.
- Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption is another long read from the Guardian, looking back at the revolution and the current state of corruption with a new term “Red Capitalists”.
- Vietnam is by no means a basket case. Its recovery from war is close to miraculous, particularly in cutting back poverty while developed nations such as the UK were increasing it. But the reality now is that it has ended up with the worst of two systems: the authoritarian socialist state and the unfettered ideology of neoliberalism; the two combining to strip Vietnam’s people of their money and their rights while a tiny elite fills its pockets and hides behind the rhetoric of the revolution. That, finally, is the biggest lie of all. Victorious in war but defeated in peace, the claim by Vietnam’s leaders to be socialist looks like empty propaganda. In the words of one former guerrilla who risked his life for this: “They are red capitalists.”
- ”We traded millions of lives for independence and equality. I imagined corruption would end after the war, but it didn’t.”
BY STEPHEN RANDOLPH
As illustrated in other articles in this issue of The Foreign Service Journal, the U.S. government recognizes corruption as a major issue, prevalent around the world, with a range of damaging forms and effects. While details vary locally and over time, the dynamics of corruption, the problems that follow in its wake, and the difficulties in addressing it have broad continuity over time, and so a historical case study can offer perspectives that remain useful today.
In the aftermath of the fall of Saigon in April 1975, thousands of South Vietnamese fled to the United States, including many senior civilian and military leaders. Seeking to capture their stories and analyses “before memories faded and before mythology replaced history,” the RAND Corporation, which had been deeply involved in the war since its inception, assembled a small team to interview these senior leaders as quickly as possible on their arrival in the United States, focusing on the causes of South Vietnam’s sudden and catastrophic collapse.
Respondents included 23 military leaders et four from le gouvernement. These leaders attributed the fall of South Vietnam to a series of linked causes, the most fundamental of which was, in their view, “pervasive corruption, which led to the rise of incompetent leaders, destroyed army morale, and created a vast gulf of social injustice and popular antipathy.” They considered corruption the “fundamental ill” within South Vietnam’s body politic, manifesting itself in four ways: racketeering; bribery; buying and selling important positions and appointments; et pockets le Payer of “ghost soldiers,” whose names were carried on the duty roster but were either nonexistent or who paid their commanders to be released from duty.
As one commander put it, the pervasive corruption “created a sense of social injustice” by creating “a small elite which held all the power and wealth, and a majority of middle-class people and peasants who became poorer and poorer and who suffered all the sacrifices.”
Evolution of a “Fundamental Ill”
This summary would have surprised few Americans who served in Indochina or dealt with the war at the policy level. Throughout the 21 years of decisive American engagement with South Vietnam, from the time of Ngo Dinh Diem until the fall of Saigon, corruption was invariably and routinely identified as a pervasive issue in the country, one with corrosive effects in every aspect of the state and society.
In Septembre 1954, during the first days of America’s involvement, a Special National Intelligence Estimate opened with an offhand reference to Premier Diem’s struggles with “the usual problems of inefficiency, disunity et la corruption in Vietnamese politics.” Two decades later, just weeks before the North Vietnamese attack that would overwhelm South Vietnam, Senator Dewey Bartlett (R-Okla.), returning from a fact-finding mission, reported to President Gerald Ford in March 1975: “Corruption should be ferreted out, there should be freedom of the press and proper use of the courts and police. This will help them to develop their resolve and will strengthen their capability to develop in peace.” Along with its deadly effects within South Vietnam, the readily visible corruption provided an easy and unanswerable point of attack for opponents of the war in the United States, and a ready justification for Congress’s reluctance to support this American ally.
Corruption in South Vietnam was invariably and routinely identified as a pervasive issue in the country, one with corrosive effects in every aspect of the state and society.
Why, then, did this phenomenon persist, and even grow progressively more egregious over time? The basic conditions were set at South Vietnam’s birth in 1954, when the country emerged suddenly from its colonial past. With very few competent civil servants, avec no functioning political system or tradition of democracy or transparency in government et avec deep divides à travers religious, regional, ethnic and class lines, the new government construit a military establishment from scratch. Few expected the state to last more than a couple of years. With the advent of active insurgency, the government of the Republic of Vietnam faced a deadly and immediate challenge that absorbed all of its attention.
Les massive intervention of American forces that followed within a decade added to the challenge in fundamental ways by infusing vast amounts of money and resources into South Vietnam and conducting des opérations militaires Cela créé massive turmoil and dislocation across the country. As the nation moved from crisis to crisis, hampered by a sclerotic and limited government bureaucracy, la corruption was always an issue to address later.
At the same time, as U.S. involvement grew during the mid-1960s, American advisers were brought in who considered action against the corruption that had grown with the American investment in the nation to be an integral element of the war for “hearts and minds,” and therefore an essential component of pacification and a high priority for action. There were, however, serious obstacles to taking decisive action, reflecting the basic nature of the U.S. relationship with South Vietnam.
Anti-Corruption Efforts Stymied
The most vigorous and sustained attempt by the United States to effect change in this area occurred in 1967 en retard, Comme “Blowtorch” Bob Komer a établi le Civil Operations and Revolutionary Development Support program, Connu comme CORDS. Recognizing President Nguyen Van Thieu’s long-standing caution in attacking corruption, Komer sought leverage that the Americans could use to encourage a more aggressive approach to the problem.
Embassy Saigon’s Minister-Counselor for Political Affairs John A. Calhoun noted a fundamental problème with Komer’s approach: it “entails an invasion du souveraineté du Republic of Viet-Nam so great that it could and would be argued thereafter that the United States is indeed the neo-colonialist power its critics and enemies allege it to be. … I believe that the more representative government which is emerging in Viet-Nam must be the vehicle for eliminating the social evils which beset the people. I do not think we can or should do this job for them.”
The issue came down to the relationship of the United States to South Vietnam. There was a basic tension, never resolved, between helping the South Vietnamese and compelling them to accept American solutions. Or as a CIA analysis later summarized the conflict in American objectives: “The GVN [Vietnam Government] must be invigorated and reformed, et le peasantry doit être won over to le government side, but all of this must be done without disturbing le political, social et economic structure bequeathed by le French colonial regime.” En d'autres termes, la corruption était not incidental to the political system of South Vietnam; it was an intégrale and defining characteristic of that system.
There was a basic tension, never resolved, between helping the South Vietnamese and compelling them to accept American solutions.
Komer sought less intrusive means of encouraging action—regular liaison avec South Vietnamese fonctionnaires, review of plans et budgets, et le menace or action of withholding resources. The most effective measure seems to have been the gradual accumulation of information on corrupt or incompetent officials, providing that information to both the South Vietnamese and the American chains of command. The expectation was that the South Vietnamese would eventually act, if sufficient evidence could be found to justify a dismissal.
The original proposal for this program included suspending assistance if the South Vietnamese failed to react to the information, but this was a step Komer was unwilling to take—weakening support for allies in a theater at war was a very difficult course of action to propose. Ultimately, Komer réussi in persuading the South Vietnamese to dismiss a limited number of officers, but with no guarantee that their successors would be any improvement.
Setting Good Governance Aside
Les Tet Offensive au début 1968 changed the war in every respect. For the communists, the successive waves of the offensive cost them dearly, the losses concentrated among the Viet Cong. Increasingly the war fell to North Vietnamese soldiers, infiltrating down the Ho Chi Minh trail. On the American side, the offensive ultimately persuaded President Lyndon Johnson not to run for a second term, and to seek a negotiated settlement.
Incoming President Richard Nixon had an entirely different perspective on the nature of the war than his predecessor. Nixon and his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, were classic realists. In part due to their basic outlook on power, and in part due to the change that the Tet Offensive had had on the war, Nixon and Kissinger ont été ne pas beaucoup intéressé in winning “hearts and minds,” as they were on ensuring physical control of the population. Similarly, they were more interested in ensuring a stable and acquiescent South Vietnamese government than in abstract notions of good governance.
As Nixon summarized it in a conversation with British counterinsurgency expert Robert Thompson, he thought that Thieu was “getting an undeservedly bad reputation.” Nixon commented that while some people wanted the administration to pressure Thieu to “crack down on corruption, broaden the base and go forward with land reform, he, the president, didn’t care what Thieu did as long as it helped the war.” The l'accent on bon gouvernement comme moyen de ensuring popular support for the GVN dissipated, as did le bonne volonté à expend political capital on encouraging South Vietnam à combat corruption. En retard 1971 Deputy National Security Advisor Al Haig, on a fact-finding mission to South Vietnam, noted: “Thieu’s actions against corruption sont considérés insuffisant. Il a not spoken out against corruption as fortement as he should, and he has not removed Le plus notoriously corrupt officials.” This was one of a litany of problems Haig identified in the South Vietnamese government, and like most of the others, was never effectively addressed.
In the end, the Nixon administration’s implicit tolerance for corruption served as other elements of its policy toward Vietnam to maintain a short-term stability in the government at le frais de son long-term prospects. The fall of South Vietnam stemmed from a range of causes. But, among those closest to the events, la corruption was considered the most damaging, “largely responsible for the ultimate collapse of South Vietnam.”
Stephen Randolph is the State Department historian. A 1974 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, he served for 27 years on active duty in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel in 2001. He flew F-4s and F-15s, with a tour in Operation Desert Storm; held senior staff positions on the Joint Staff and the Air Staff; and then joined the faculty at the National Defense University, serving for 15 years before moving to the State Department in 2011. He is the author of Powerful and Brutal Weapons: Nixon, Kissinger and the Easter Offensive (Harvard University Press, 2007).
Lire la suite...
- Uncovering the Lessons of Vietnam, by Stephen Randolph (The Foreign Service Journal, July/August 2015)
- The Fall of South Vietnam: Statements by Vietnamese Military and Civilian Leaders, by Stephen T. Hosmer, Konrad Kellen, Brian M. Jenkins (RAND)
14 mai 2011
by William P. Meyers
Corruption, the taking of bribes by politicians and government employees and the theft of public funds, is a nearly universal practice. But it is also a spectrum, with come governments having very little corruption, and ranges to governments that exist almost exclusively. South Vietnam (the Republic of Vietnam) during the 1960s is noted for its high degree of corruption. It is generally agreed that government corruption was one of the main reasons the government eventually collapsed and the south was unified with North Vietnam, the République socialiste du Vietnam.
je suis en train de lire Understanding Vietnam by Nilm L. Jamiseson and a section on the cultural aspects of corruption in Vietnam explained what happened in a way I had never considered. This contrasts with other histories I read that described the corruption, but implied it was simply due to defects in human character. This new understanding also sheds light on the collapse of the Chiang Kai-Shek regime in China in the late 1940s. It also explains a lot about many of today's regimes, including, on a smaller scale, the behavior of all too many individuals in local government in these United States of America.
In Vietnam (I will call South Vietnam just Vietnam from this point forward) traditional status était highly dependent on wealth. Toutefois, dirigeants were supposed to Montrer leur richesse by providing feasts for leur villages, and through other forms of ostentation public distribution of leur wealth. Dans un village economy men competed for status by sharing with the less fortunate. Their families had priority, of course, but it was not too bad of a system.
Quand le U.S. invaded le 1960s le choc au Vietnamese economy était profound. Government employees, comprenant militaire employés, changed in a few years from being highly respected et decently paid members of a mainly traditional society to among the plus pauvre citoyens.
American privates avait higher salaries than Vietnamese generals. D'ailleurs, call-girls dont clients ont été American enlisted men made more money. Les influx of American money drove inflation, but while America paid for military supplies and all sorts of economic programs, no one thought faire Paiements au Saigon regime to increase le les salaires of militaires et bureaucrats. High-ranking military officers pourra clair de lune as taxi drivers to try to make enough pay de conserver leur familles avec perdre la face en raison de la pauvreté.
Leur femmes came to the sauver, and that was also due to cultural traditions. In Vietnam women had traditionnellement done the commercialisation et small scale craft making that kept families afloat. Hommes, la plupart, did not engage in business. While men went about their hierarchically controlled, government-dictated lives, women had to do more than make ends meet: they had to maintain their family's status in society. "Pendant le 1960s fin et premières 1970 it was often impossible à une respectueux et virtuous family man and a respectueux et virtuous military officer or civil servant ... son womenfolk conservé rappelant celui qui abordables ont été à nouveau le marché et le enfants nécessaire new shoes." Women ran le free market show, which largely consisted of diverting American-donated goods dans le black market. "As Madam General called Madam Colonel qui called Madam Head Clerk ... the daily flow of money and of goods throughout the country was anticipated and careful plans were formulated for diverting some percentage of this bounty."
This looking deeper contrasts with A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam by Neil Sheehan, which is better at providing insight into the American side of the war. Américains were concerned about the corruption of Vietnamese officials and military men, but their answer was classroom training about the importance of good governance standards. That they payé leur girlfriends more than they paid mais ils expected to die fighting communists did not semble cross anyone's mind.
la corruption a its own cultural momentum. Simply raising pay is not a sure way of stamping out corruption. Lowering pay somewhat is not likely to cause most honest civil servants to suddenly be selling their souls. Nevertheless, poor pay in the long run does breed corruption and incompetence.
A single word, corruption, encapsulates a wide variety of social pressures. Americans thought que l' corruption of Vietnam à cause de weak ethical values le national culture. American soldiers fait not need to steal food avec peasants to fill their bellies. Leur la corruption was at a higher level, the corruption of an entire nation by wealth avec production industrielle et imperialist domination.
cela era of American global economic supremacy is à venir an fin. le corruption (lack of self-control et external control) du banking sector et Wall Street almost brought le entire nation to its knees in 2008. Les same gang funded Barack Obama's presidential campaign, just like they funded Clinton et Buisson before him. So we have had much talk of reform, but very little reform.
Millions of people died violent deaths in Vietnam during the French and American interventions and civil war. Corruption was problem, but it was also a symptom of the larger problems of that era. The problem now is we still have an American economy and government built for imperialism. The cracks in that system will continue to widen as the imperialist overhang continues to crumble.
BY JERRY MORELOCK
4/14/2017 • VIETNAM MAGAZINE
Était le Vietnam War essentially “unwinnable” because of the incorrigibly venal, consistently corrupt and—worst of all—egregiously incompetent South Vietnamese government officials and senior military commanders? Frank Scotton, a former foreign service officer who spent at least part of every year from 1962 to 1975 in Vietnam working for the Agence d'information des États-Unis, thinks so.
In his extensive and detailed memoir, Uphill Battle: Reflections on Viet Nam Counterinsurgency, Scotton looks back on the 1975 fall of Saigon and the final North Vietnamese offensive that quickly overwhelmed the U.S.-trained and -equipped Army of the Republic of Vietnam. He concludes: “There really never had been anything wrong with the courage and endurance of the [ARVN’s] basic soldiers, experienced noncommissioned officers, and junior officers. The problem was inadequate leadership higher up the chain of command.”
BY HISTORY NET
The reason inept ARVN generals kept their jobs is no secret, Scotton says. In a corrupt system maintained by patronage, blind loyalty to political bosses in Saigon easily trumped battlefield competence in the selection of generals. The military leadership problem was worsened, Scotton notes, “by the deaths in combat or helicopter crashes of some of the best officers, who led from the front.” Most telling is the author’s conclusion that the South Vietnamese government, our crucial ally in the war, “failed to develop a viable political ideal for which men would risk dying.”
Although most Americans who served in Vietnam were involved in combat against North Vietnamese regulars and Viet Cong main force guerrillas, Scotton fought the “other war,” the counterinsurgency effort (then variously called “revolutionary development” or “pacification”), a grassroots program to get South Vietnam’s population to support the Saigon government. Over the years, he worked closely with a cast of South Vietnamese and American officials, civilian and military, that reads like a “Who’s Who” of counterinsurgency, notably including John Paul Vann, Robert Komer and William Colby.
Uphill Battle seems a particularly apt title for this memoir. Scotton describes his efforts to build effective counterin