The parallels between the former US-backed Saigon dictatorship of South Vietnam, and the current NATO-supported Kyiv regime in Ukraine, are becoming ever more apparent. Both regimes in their own way are proxy forces of Western imperial objectives. The foreign policy which the US implements is motivated by the concern that white lives are more important.
But wait a minute, I hear you say, the South Vietnamese Saigon loyalists were not white! True, but as I have explained before, they are accomplices to US imperialist policy that selectively privileges white lives over those of the global South. Let’s elaborate this topic.
Margaret Kimberly, writer and editor for Black Agenda Report, noted in March 2022 that US foreign policy is based on the premise that white lives matter more than others. The unmistakable blue and yellow colours of the Ukrainian flag adorn public buildings and Facebook avatars. Ukrainians, being fair-skinned and blue-eyed, constitute ‘good’ refugees, as opposed to Afghanis, Syrians, Palestinians, sub-Saharan Africans and so on.
Sonali Kolhatkar made the same point, writing that while European nations enthusiastically welcomed Ukrainians fleeing the conflict in their country, those same European countries were enforcing militarised borders against refugees from Iraq and Afghanistan. Several European politicians openly stated their preference for Ukrainian refugees, stating that the Middle East and African nations, unlike Ukraine, have been at war for centuries. They omitted to mention that imperialist interventions, both covert and open, are responsible for the duration of those conflicts.
In June 2020, Ukrainian football fans unfurled a banner stating ‘Free Derek Chauvin’, the racist police officer responsible for the asphyxiation death of African American George Floyd. As Margaret Kimberly observed, the latter’s death was a catalyst for the Black Lives movement. In October 2020, Ukrainian neo-Nazi group National Resistance marched with the banner ‘white lives matter’, a declaration of white supremacist solidarity.
October 14 is celebrated in Ukraine in honour of the UPA, the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the acronym is from the Ukrainian words). This army was a Nazi collaborationist formation which fought alongside the Germans in WW2, committing atrocities against Jews, Poles, Hungarians and antifascist Ukrainians. It is no secret that Ukraine, since the 2014 US-supported Maidan ultranationalist coup, has become a hub attracting white supremacists from around the world to Kyiv’s cause.
The normally staid, centre-of-the-road Washington Post, in May 2022, was forced to concede that Ukraine has become a proxy of the NATO powers, fighting as cannon fodder for a proxy war with Moscow. Getting others to do the heavy fighting has benefits for the imperial power – less of your own troops are directly deployed, and domestic criticism of overseas adventures is limited.
As the Washington Post writer stated:
The key to the strategy is to find a committed local partner — a proxy willing to do the killing and dying — and then load it up with the arms, money and intelligence needed to inflict shattering blows on a vulnerable rival. That’s just what Washington and its allies are doing to Russia today.
This strategy is not without historical precedent. The disturbing parallels between the current Ukraine conflict and the Vietnam war are not simply the exaggerated meanderings of my own imagination. Over at the Pearls and Irritations public policy blog, activist Rick Sterling notes the similarities, even in rhetoric, between the American war on Vietnam via its Saigon proxy, and the NATO induced war on capitalist Russia via the Ukrainian proxy.
The Saigon dictatorship, whose loyalists were given refuge after the Vietnam war concluded in the 1970s in Australia and the US, received millions in funding and state-of-the-art weaponry from the imperialist powers. This obsessive compulsive desire to send the latest and greatest military technology, prevalent in Washington and London, finds its reflection today in the near-frenzied demands to send tanks eastwards to Kyiv.
Washington was not the only foreign backer of the Saigon regime – London played its part in propping up a repressive dictatorship. Britain, soon after the conclusion of WW2, provided sanctuary to thousands of Ukrainian and Baltic ultranationalist Nazi collaborators, overriding the legitimate concerns that war criminals were escaping justice.
London, throughout the Vietnam war, provided military and ideological support to the Saigon regime. The UK’s Foreign Office, having set up an Information Research Department (IRD), broadcast propaganda for the Saigon dictatorship. This effort was aimed at creating public support for the American war effort, and covering up the massacres of civilians and war crimes committed by American forces.
The atrocities committed by the Saigon loyalist forces were not seen as problematic because of the ethical outrage they would cause, but as damaging to the public relations image of the American war domestically. In June 1965, the then prime minister of South Vietnam, Major General Nyugen Cao Ky stated that he wished to see four or five Hitlers in Vietnam. It was difficult to reconcile the image of the ‘free world’ South Vietnamese regime which was headed by a Hitler-admiring dictator.
The British government set about reconstructing the popular image of the Saigon regime in their media releases and broadcasts to the public. Teams of public relations experts are managing, and even writing press releases for, Zelensky in Kyiv.
As long as US policymakers treat people like cannon fodder, more people will die in Ukraine. We must shine a spotlight on the darkest corners of imperialist foreign policy, for it is in the bright light of exposure that the process of accountability for US crimes can begin.