The U.S. president Barack Obama is dedicating the last part of his second turn to visit different countries of the world. This time, it is a trip to the East, including Vietnam and the Japanese city of Hiroshima; both of them, symbolic places of major facts of the XX century’s history.

By Alejandro Iturbe.


In August, 1945, the U.S. aviation threw atomic bombs (back then it was a new war technology) over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, at the expense of the destruction of two cities, dozens of thousand dead people, an even greater number of injured, and extremely severe after-effects of diseases among the survivors. The worst part is, such action was militarily not necessary, as the fleet and the Japanese Army were broken, and their definitive surrender was just a matter of time.

The true goal of using the atomic bomb was to warn the masses and the peoples of the world how far the U.S. imperialism was willing to go to defend their own interests, and confront the revolutionary processes the WWII had generated.

The global horror and repudiation caused by the consequences of the atomic bomb, on one side, and the world class struggle on the other, held the imperialism from use such weapon again. But what happened at Hiroshima and Nagasaki remained as a symbol of the destructive cruelty of the imperialism.

When starting his trip, Obama declared, when he visits Hiroshima he will not apologize for that, as it was a military decision taken under the circumstances of the moment. Reading between the lines, this is the same as saying “I would have done the same”. It is clear, behind the mask (and the political tactic) of “dialogue and negotiation” reality is forcing him into, Obama is the political chief of imperialism, and if the circumstances demanded and allowed him so, we would not doubt to use any method to defend those same interests.

Analyzing Vietnam’s case demands to go briefly over some elements of the country’s modern history. In the XX century, Vietnam was part of the colonial territory called French Indochina. During WWII, Indochina was invaded by Japan and a liberation war began, led by the Communist Party. Once Japan was defeated, the colonial domain of France returned (accepted by the CP), but a new liberation war started soon after, which ended with a partial victory in 1954. The country divided into two: North Vietnam emerged as a bureaucratized workers’ state; South Vietnam stayed a capitalist state, puppet of the imperialism.

Both States go into war: the North, aiming to reunify the country under its domain; the South, to defend its artificial existence. In front of the imminent debacle of the South, by the beginning of 1960, the U.S. drove a military escalation, stronger each time, against the North troops and the Vietnam National Liberation Front (Viet Cong).

[It was] a long and gory war, in which the U.S. army used extremely cruel methods, like napalm bombs (fuel that burns quickly with contact with air) to demolish villages, cultivation and the people who were there. We must also add the killing of entire villages, like Mi Lay in 1968, the rape of Vietnamese women, etc. The estimate is, more than 2 million Vietnamese people died in the war.

And yet, that much cruelty did not guarantee their victory. On the contrary, the combination of the heroic resistance of the Vietnamese people, the great mobilization around the world against this military intervention (and specially a major rise inside the U.S. itself) and the military, psychological and moral crumbling of the U.S. troops, made the imperialism suffer its first political-military defeat of history, in 1975.

The U.S. helicopters taking agents and officers quickly out of Saigon (South Vietnam’s capital), and the desperation of the Vietnamese agents of the puppet state (not considered for the runaway) hanging of those helicopters desperately, are images that traveled the world and remained as symbolic images of such defeat, and became a demonstration that the imperialist monster can be defeated. Vietnam open a period of deepening of the revolutionary situation, expressed through the triumph of democratic revolutions in Iran and Nicaragua, for example (both in 1979).

The life of Vietnam unified as a bureaucratized workers’ State lasted short: in 1986 (after the restoration in China and in the former URSS), the Vietnamese Stalinist leadership began the restoration process in their own country, following China’s model. This is, under a dictatorial regime of the PC, this time serving a capitalist State.

Since then until now, a great part of the state companies have been privatized, and many peasant families have been expelled of their lands through the most violent methods. With salaries even lower than in China, Vietnam has become the receptor of imperialist investments in industries of low capital and intensive workforce, such as clothing and footwear. It has also become the wild “agro-business” territory destined to rice exportation (at the expense of its own people’s hunger).

This is the context of Obama’s visit: an old enemy country that is now an ally, so good business can now tighten up. In this frame, there is no problem for him in supporting the dictatorial regime (as he did in Cuba), and void the embargo on arms sales, in effect since 1975. What they could not get with a war, they get it now thanks to the CP, recycled into a capitalist dictatorship.

From “Vietnam’s syndrome” to “Iraq’s syndrome”

We would like to finish with another consideration. The defeat of 1975 generated the so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” among the U.S. imperialist bourgeoisie: a strong difficulty to perform new military interventions of this kind, because of the fear of its possible consequences. This is how the “democratic reaction” policy emerges, driven by James Carter since 1977, and later, the combination of it with a bit more “stick”, so the “carrot” of Ronald Reagan, since 1981, would pass.

George W. Bush tried to end the “Vietnam syndrome” with the New American Century project, the “war against terrorism”, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. But it was military defeated in both countries. There were not defeats as clear as Vietnam images, but they were severe defeats for the imperialism. To such level that the “Iraq Syndrome” emerged, similar to Vietnam’s.

Here comes Obama (as a new character, much more friendly to the masses than Bush), to implement the “democratic reaction” tactic all the way, the pacts, the negotiation. Of course he also goes for some “stick”. But he does it among limits (air-strikes, provision of some weapons and military advisors), because the relation of forces imposes him so.

Of course, we cannot underestimate the fact Obama’s policy has some success, such as the visits to Cuba and Vietnam, or the current course of Syria’s civil war. But those are partial successes that do not reverse the relation of forces and the unfavourable situation the imperialism is in as a whole, globally.

We are not the only ones to say this. Zbigniew Brzezinski is one of the strategic ideologists of the U.S. imperialism, and a high leader of the Democrat Party: he was the main elaborator of the democratic reaction policy of James Carter, one of the ones to orient the policy that would lead to the URSS and Eastern Europe restoration, and more recently he was one of the supporters of Obama’s presidency. We think his opinions deserve some respect when it comes to show how the world situation is interpreted by the more lucid sector of the U.S. imperialism.

In an interview given to the Brazilian magazine Época [Epoch] (number 863, December 15th, 2014), he affirms: “We live an epoch of instability with no precedents. There are enormous strips of territories dominated by agitation, rage, revolutions, and lost of control by the State. (…) It’s what I’ve been saying for the last 20 years: we live a period of instability with no precedents, caused by the global political awakening”[1].

In other words, the world lives a revolutionary situation, where the U.S. imperialism is weakened. It is sailing in seas of storms, and as Nahuel Moreno said in 1985: “it does not do what it wants but what it can”. This is the frame Obama comes in, with his policies and trips.



[1] Translation by us.


Translation: Sofía Ballack.