Orange County, 26-10-208, Văn Hóa interviewing Prof. Nguyen Van Canh. Editor’s note: Prof. Nguyen Van Canh has edited the answers in this interview and provided additional details and illustrations.
* Prof. Nguyen Van Canh’s Response to Ambassador Le Cong Phung’s statements * A Vietnamese Motto: ‘when the country is in danger, it’s every ordinary citizen’s responsibility….’
Ly Kien Truc: Greetings, Professor, firstly on behalf of the Vietnamese Diaspora’s TV station Freevn.net and Van Hoa magazine, we are honored to receive you and thank you for having agreed to grant us this special interview today, and may we wish you the best of health, so you could continue with the work for the benefit of our future generations. Please refer to www.vanhoamagazine.com
years have passed since the Russian edition of this book first
appeared. The developments that have taken and are continuing to take
place in the country of the "cogs" have served to confirm the
topicality of my subject. The scraps of information 1 had to gather
from Soviet and non-Soviet publications are now flooding onto the pages
of magazines and newspapers, even television screens. It has been
announced officially that the Soviet Union is going through a crisis.
In the last years of Leonid Brezhnev's life there was no longer any
doubt about the reality of this crisis. Yuri Andropov, who succeeded
him as general secretary, spoke of it openly, but the brevity of his
tenure in the top post (November 12, 1982 to February 9, 1984) allowed
him to do no more than draw up a program of action. His successor,
Konstantin Chemenko, ceased altogether to talk of a crisis. He held on
to the post of general secretary for just over a year (February 13,
1984 to March 10, 1985).
On a string of mere flyspeck islands in the middle of the high seas, the military forces of five nations stand arrayed against one another, each prepared to do battle with the others. The land these potential belligerents seek to control is barely any land at all, but rather a group of tiny rocks, many of which are frequently under water. No humans have ever settled there, and for centuries the only nations that knew of their existence recognized them primarily as a hazard to maritime navigation. How then did this chain of islets, which the nations of Asia and the world considered insignificant for so long, suddenly become so important that battles have been fought over them and countries continue to risk war in order to control the chain? The answers are as difficult to see as are the Truong Sa Islands themselves at high tide.
An emptiness, a gap, a hole, a missing link or blank space is what we have felt all these years. Though we have settled down, have better lives and a foreseeable future, there has always been something deep down inside that continually urges us to seek something to fill those blank spaces. We have been haunted with the sense of "unfinished business" since we landed in this country, free and safe - where we enjoy simple freedoms and basic human rights that were denied to us by our homeland. At times, we pause, think and talk about it. At all times we feel a need and desire to express our appreciation and gratitude to these countries and their people who have welcomed us with open arms, open hearts and especially to remember and honour, those who died seeking freedom - to make our life whole.
(From Kiem Do and Julie Kane,Chapter 10- "Counterpart, A South Vietnamese Naval Officer's War", Naval Institute, Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 1998.)
...Even though the Americans were now technically out of the fighting, Kiem still had a U.S. counterpart, though the latter's role had changed considerably since the signing of the treaty: the new man was an observer, rather than a helper, and so quiet that Kiem had trouble remembering his name. He reported to the Defense Attache Office, an arm of the U.S. Embassy located at Tan Son Nhut Air Base. Prior to the treaty Kiem had been able to contact the U.S. Seventh Fleet directly, but now he had to ask his counterpart to ask the DAO to ask the U.S. Navy whatever it was he wanted. It was a cumbersome procedure, to say the least. But Kiem didn't fully understand its implications until January of 1974, when Red Chinese warships seized the Hoang Sa or "Paracel" Islands that had been claimed by Vietnam since the early nineteenth century.
Being a Vietnamese, one is always ready to shed blood to defend Vietnam
from invasion forces. Currently, China, under the communist regime, has
been pursuing its expansionism. They have occupied the Paracel Islands
since 1974 by defeating the Republic of Vietnam Navy (South Vietnam).
They have also occupied many islands from the Spratly Islands since
1978 after defeating the communist-ruled Vietnam Navy. This article,
even though might not reveal facts our readers would like to know, has
been published un-edited as a reminder from the editor: "a nation
destiny is in the hands of its own people."
I. At the
beginning of 1974, the Naval Headquarters of Riverine Mobile Operations
just moved from Binh-Thuy (Can-Tho) to Cat-Lai for few months. Before
that, Staff Sections used to have Sunday off only, after the move they
were given extra Saturday afternoon off. I did not recall the reason
why I stayed at the Headquarters on the previous Saturday before the
battle between the Republic of Vietnam and the People Republic of China
war in Vietnam between the free world and the Communistbloc had reached
a higher level since the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin, whichinvolved
North VietnamesePT boatsand two U.S. Navy destroyers in the international waters.Since
the national resistance against the French from1940-1954, war had taken
the lives of so many innocent people in both North andSouth Vietnam and
now there were more people being killed.
In the final days of South Vietnam, The city of Saigon was defended
by at least three Rangers groups, the last and the largest fighting force of the
Republic of South Vietnam. As Maj. Gen. Do-Ke-Giai, commander of the Rangers was
still in his office, the Rangers fought gallantly side by side and held their
positions until received the order to lay down their arms. It was around noon
April 30th 1975.
He moved in our neighborhood sometime in early 1974. His family - wife and seven children - soon earned sympathy from people along the paved alley of a Saigon suburb where most inhabitants were in lower middle class. His eldest son was about thirty years old and a first lieutenant in the Army Medical branch after graduated pharmacist from the Medical School. The youngest was a 15-year-old pretty girl....