Courtesy Reuters

Viet Nam


IN all its two thousand or more years of history, Viet Nam has never been fully in control of its own destiny. We have suffered invasion by the Chinese, the Mongols, the Japanese and the French. We were administered as a protectorate of China for over a thousand years; we were a colony of France for nearly a century. We endured two and a half centuries of civil war between the Lords of the Trinh from the north and the Lords of the Nguyen from the south-a civil war in which the Dutch were heavily involved supporting the former and the Portuguese the latter.

Despite this violent, protracted interplay of external and internal forces, our people have developed strong, distinctive characteristics. And out of the crosscurrents of Chinese, Hindu and Western civilizations and religions has emerged a Vietnamese culture all its own.

Just as the bamboo in our national crest symbolizes our resiliency in the face of uncontrollable forces of nature or man, so too does it emphasize the supple strength of the Vietnamese people and their deep roots in their own land. Though our past has been full of disappointments, our future, like the fresh green shoots of the bamboo, is full of hope. Whether we will succeed or fail is in large measure a question of confidence-confidence in our government, in our constitutional processes and in our ultimate victory over communism.

Before any real progress can be made in Viet Nam, the government must earn the confidence of the people. This cannot be done unless the government has confidence in itself; unless it knows in its own heart it is working for the good of the whole nation; unless it is prepared to explain to the simple people, the villagers in the countryside, what it is trying to do in language they will understand. It must be honest with the people and honest with itself.

When the government has confidence in itself it will be

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