11 August 2010

Vietnam and the Clash of Ignorance

Here's a story from the AsiaTimes regarding Vietnam. It's ironic, but now they are actually looking to establishing stronger economic ties to the United States due to the growing power of their ancient enemy...China.

The United States pulled out in 1975, and 35 years later the United States though militarily defeated has won, almost.....with Pizza Hut and Kentucky Fried Chicken. You can defeat Imperial Legions with guerilla warfare, but you can't defeat the most flesh-pleasing and enticing culture the world has seen since the Roman Empire.

The British Empire was staggeringly impressive in scope and power, but I don't think their culture had the same drawing power as America. I don't think it was as adaptable. I didn't say it couldn't adapt, but I don't think it appealed to the masses in same way. Some may disagree, and some might only attribute the difference to modern media and technology.

Another point of interest. Those familiar with the oft-touted Huntington's Clash of Civilizations will find yet another example of where his theories break down. Conservatives love Huntington because his model supports their way of looking at the world, and yet with Vietnam and in many other places it doesn't work. I agree with Said...it's the Clash of Ignorance. He would say the KFC conquest of Vietnam or China isn't changing the core of their culture. He thinks all these things are mere accoutrements and these societies retain their core values.

In response I would pull out my manila folder full of clippings from news magazines going back about ten years. Their 'civilization' is in the midst of being turned on its head. If he doesn't think Chinese women, going off to the city, walking around drinking Starbucks in a mini-skirt isn't changing their culture....he's deeply enmeshed in the fantasy world most Conservatives live in.

According to Huntington, Vietnam belongs to the "Sinic" civilizational group. That is, they will have common interests, foreign policy, find unity in their similarities and so forth. This is simply an unrealistic assessment. Vietnam and China have had poor relations for centuries. Though on the surface one would think they should get along, the reality is much different.

Or take another country like Burma/Myanmar. A Buddhist country, they should according to Huntington, find common cause with neighbours like Thailand and should certainly look to China before they would look to Hindu-dominated India. Yet up until basically the 90's, Burma was hostile to China. They too have had a number of border disputes and other issues. Burma has had troubles with Muslim Bangladesh and have looked to India for considerable aid in the past and present. Right now they are caught in the middle between the growing power of both India and China. The ties with India are economic and China is rapidly becoming a major arms producer and selling weaponry to the Yangon/Rangoon regime. However, China is not even close to the United States who is hands down the major arms proliferator in the world. This irony was not missed as the United States tried to extradite the infamous arms dealer Victor Bout from Thai custody. The United States claiming the moral authority to condemn an arms dealer is an outrageous example of the pot calling the kettle black.

I could go on about the failures of Huntington's thesis, but I'll save those for another day.

What has Huntington and Vietnam to do with Proto-protestantism?

Vietnam was a war heartily supported by American Christians due to Sacralist convictions. The lessons of the American failure were not learned and the response from the Right and particularly the Christian Right has been a call for more militarism and media control. Think back to the talk on the street during Gulf War I. Remember how the military took control and made sure the media would not be allowed to write the narrative? Many older American's approved, because they thought the media had harmed the American cause in Vietnam. They were actually calling for and approving of state-run and military run media. It's only grown worse with embedded reporters and entities like the FOX.

While I don't support American Economic Imperialism and I find American culture to be in many ways anti-Christian, Vietnam is an example of militarism failing and weapons of the flesh succeeding. In the end when Wal-mart is in Vietnam, Baywatch and Twilight are the most popular television programs, then indeed the Americans can declare victory. Ho Chi Minh will roll over in his grave. Remember he initially turned to the Americans to help him drive the French out of Indochina. In his naiveté he had not realized that post-1945 the French and the British were largely American lapdogs. America had and still has their satellites, but we're not allowed to call them that. This American hegemony in Europe eventually led to resentment and some of the strains with France that continue to this day, another story not honestly reported in our media. Instead we get French conspiracies and Freedom Fries.

And I continually want to refer to examples of Huntington's flaws because his book is heavily promoted by people like Chuck Colson who are ardent supporters of the Holy American Empire project. Huntington is one of their ideological tools for the intelligentsia of the Sacralist movement.

Here's the Vietnam article from the AsiaTimes.

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