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Bà tâm or Old Ladies Security Network and allied issues

A few points

1) Viet Nam, while comparatively well run, is a Communist Dictatorship.

2) In my experience,almost all Vietnamese, even those who have spent years in reeducation camps are loyal to Viet Nam. This is especially true as their is a significant, though relatively small, chance that Viet Nam will be at War in the not too distant future.

3) The Vietnamese spending on defense over the last 10 years has skyrocketed because their is a significant, though relatively small, chance that Viet Nam will be at War in the not too distant future.

4) In Vietnamese eyes, China is the aggressor and mortal danger.

5) Viet Nam, America, Australia, Japan, Israel and a number of other countries are moving closer to an unofficial Alliance and are materially assisting and supporting the Viet Nam defense build up.

6) The Bà tâm or Old Ladies Security Network is an integral part of the local and National security networks and should be respected.

My wife and I have always taken the time to have a friendly chat with any of the
“old ladies” that wished to chat with us. We have answered their many questions with complete openness, honesty and respect for their responsibilities. One thing that you give up for the privilege of living in Viet Nam is any right to privacy. The Vietnamese don’t have that privilege and neither do we as long as we choose to live here.

In truth, thanks to the internet on privacy; “That horse done kicked open the barn door, jumped the fence, took off running down the road and is now plumb out of state.” World wide, for good or evil, privacy is pretty well a historical and dead issue. Understandably foreigners do get more attention than the Vietnamese. Most of that is likely because, they have a lot less information about us and need to fill in the blanks that were filled in on the Vietnamese years ago.

Note, I have two years Police experience, mostly as a “Traffic Cop” on a US Military Base in Japan. During that time, between USAFI(United States Armed Forces Institute)and Los Angles City College Overseas, I earned roughly 30 semesters of college credit in “Administration of Justice.” While I have no military training or experience in Intelligence except for a brief lecture in “Boot Camp.” I am interested in the subject, have studied it and have talked to friends that have been involved in Intelligence.

Very interesting 70 and insightful.....thank you for sharing

I agree with all points but on point 2 I will say they are loyal to their country but not their government. I find this also true to most Americans.

I'm not sure what your main point to posting this is but I'd love to discuss this in person some evening. I had a brief stay with the 509th RRU. I spent my brief military career with the USASA and USASC and as a communication grunt with the USIC.

GaryFunk :

I agree with all points but on point 2 I will say they are loyal to their country but not their government. I find this also true to most Americans.

I'm not sure what your main point to posting this is but I'd love to discuss this in person some evening. I had a brief stay with the 509th RRU. I spent my brief military career with the USASA and USASC and as a communication grunt with the USIC.

On point 2, your refinement is valid. But, in case of war against China, I don't see that the refinement would be significant.

The reason for posting is that similar discussions were going on, off topic, in different threads. If we are to discuss it, let's have a topic for it.

As to a personal discussion, it would have to be at my house. My wife's medical condition is too serious for me to leave her, even with a house boy, for any longer than necessary. I do live in Binh Tan and my house is somewhat difficult for a Taxi to find.

If still interested, send me a personal message. I'll even provide some good Scotch.

If they'll let me bring my old M-16 back in country, I'll join the fight. That's if there is a ground war. 

I'll send you a PM and we'll try to get together.

As retired Army(reserve), I legally "hold Office." and would need to submit a request to the Department of the Army first to be legal.

The reality is that someone in their 70's whose military experience ended more than 20 years ago in the Army National Guard likely wouldn't be much use to the Vietnamese Army. If the US got involved, that could change. My knowledge and experience in Viet Nam might prove useful, much like my old days as an US Navy Advisor to the South Vietnamese Navy.

Is it a great idea to mention you fought against the government that hosts you at the moment?

Yes Fred, it is.

..and if you read (the bibliography in) his previous posts..?

..you will know who (really) fought who (and why) too...

The hunt for the Snark has no equal

..but Viet Nam's (true) history comes very close...

Perhaps without forks, but still, hope...

Vietnam's history is difficult at best, and full of other people's messes.
Whatever the history, I'm unsure telling the world you shot at their people, or even played any part in assisting those who did is much of an idea.
I would be disinclined to admit it if I was living there, especially as the thread is about an intel network.

Wow! you really want to be noticed don't you? They're going to put you under surveillance after reading this.

My girlfriends family was on the side of the " south" her grandparents told her stories about American soldiers assisting them from moving from the north in 1954. Her dad spent two years in prison after the war. Reducation. The way she explained it was awesome.....she said both sides loved Vietnam but with different ideology. I think it would surprise you how many people in Vietnam were involved with Americans and have no ill will. In fact they won't talk about it much.

Fred,
Most of the senior staff in our village and district administations and police forces know that my wife is married to a former Australian soldier. I don't give them trouble, they don't give me trouble. In fact, some of us have a few beers together from time to time and they invite my wife and me to their childrens' weddings.  The war was a LONG time ago.

I beg to differ with post No1: Vietnam is no longer a communist state with state ownership of the means of production, etc. Rather it is a post-communist, one-party state, because there IS private ownership of the means of production and foreign investment is welcome.   Even the good ol' USA gave  VN a 'market economy' assessment so that it could join the World Trade Organisation.

Precisely

There are (far) more important things to do than live with guilt

..and the excuses are as many as the reasons are few...

I was an American soldier of the side of the South. After 40 years I ended up married to the daughter of a North Vietcong officer.

It's not a big deal. The old war is over and the new kids are taking over the country. When the new war breaks out, it will be a different enemy.

60 years ago China supported the government of north Vietnam.  Now they may soon be at war and the US will be back to support all of Vietnam.

Fred :

Is it a great idea to mention you fought against the government that hosts you at the moment?

In April 1975 when my family and I left Viet Nam, it would have been a very bad idea to stay in Viet Nam. In 1995, my first time back a Công an Nhân dân Việt Nam (Vietnamese Intelligence Officer) obviously did not like me. But, he was civil and processed my paperwork to go into the somewhat restricted military zone that was my wife's home town.

Now days I have a recently retired and senior Công an Nhân dân Việt Nam in-law as well as a couple of good friends that are active duty and not so senior Công an Nhân dân Việt Nam.

The internal politics of Viet Nam is quite interesting.

It is very different now. Several members of my wife's family are officers in the Vietnam Military. The all welcome me and there are times we talk about the past and present.

I have no problems with the police or any government officials. I did have a few arguments with some while processing my marriage papers. I then found out the problems were caused by my wife because she didn't pass on necessary information.

I then went to humbly apologize to the official and he was very pleased.  Since then he has always been very helpful to me.  The key to surviving in Vietnam is to know when to be a solider and to know when to be a diplomat.  Sincere gifts from the US also help.

ralphnhatrang :

Fred,
Most of the senior staff in our village and district administations and police forces know that my wife is married to a former Australian soldier. I don't give them trouble, they don't give me trouble. In fact, some of us have a few beers together from time to time and they invite my wife and me to their childrens' weddings.  The war was a LONG time ago.

I beg to differ with post No1: Vietnam is no longer a communist state with state ownership of the means of production, etc. Rather it is a post-communist, one-party state, because there IS private ownership of the means of production and foreign investment is welcome.   Even the good ol' USA gave  VN a 'market economy' assessment so that it could join the World Trade Organisation.

Agreed with the first part of your post.

The second part is complex and subject to different, and still valid, interpretations. Viet Nam is officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam  Cộng hòa Xã hội chủ nghĩa Việt Nam. As you state, Viet Nam is a one party state. That Party is the Đảng Cộng sản Việt Nam or Communist Party of Vietnam. Cộng sản is the Vietnamese language translation of Communist.

Your disagreement with post No: 1 is valid. But, accepting the official Vietnamese Government position, as I did, is also valid. Political issues can get rather murky.

I don't know how deep your political discussions got over the beers. From my similar beery research, Party Members do believe that it is the Party's duty to control the Nation and it's people for the good of the people. Note, from my observation, the party has done reasonably well since 1995.

GaryFunk :

The key to surviving in Vietnam is to know when to be a solider and to know when to be a diplomat.  Sincere gifts from the US also help.

One of the wisest observations that I have run into. I wish that i had been able to come up with that observation.

GaryFunk :

60 years ago China supported the government of north Vietnam.  Now they may soon be at war and the US will be back to support all of Vietnam.

Yes, politicians are amazingly stupid and never learn from their massive past mistakes, especially when economic reasons are around.
Much of that being fat sacks of cash in their pockets whilst people die for causes or just because they're in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Politicians are more often a bigger enemy than the country they assure us is a danger, so I find the big fish in that particular pool more than a little loathsome.
I'm avoiding the actual politics as such subjects are very much unwelcome on this forum, but I'll be happy to share my take on what's going on by PM.

Fred :

I'm avoiding the actual politics as such subjects are very much unwelcome on this forum, but I'll be happy to share my take on what's going on by PM.

One can not totally ignore politics. But, one also has to understand the culture of the country where one resides. My intent, is to describe and discuss how things, to a degree political, actually impact living in Viet Nam. My hope is that this understanding will help how we as foreigners interact with the Vietnamese public.

:)

70 years old :
Fred :

I'm avoiding the actual politics as such subjects are very much unwelcome on this forum, but I'll be happy to share my take on what's going on by PM.

One can not totally ignore politics. But, one also has to understand the culture of the country where one resides..

Some political topics are essential in some countries as they can change the whole way an expat behaves or even save their lives if extreme events come to pass, but most political discussions end up as slanging matches with more red herrings than a red herring farm in Scotland, making the argument pointless anyway.

However, one general note is NEVER to believe what you're told by a politician until you've researched the lot carefully because what politicians generally tell you is what they want you to believe, and that isn't usually the truth.
That is an absolute truth for the external political situation surrounding Vietnam at the moment;
however, that's one for PM not the open forums because it's extremely likely to cause a bunfight.

It's interesting stuff to see how situations are engineered.

@Fred

My B.A. from the U of Maryland overseas is in what I call "Organized Chicanery" and the U of Maryland calls a Government Major.

But, the real issue is that humans are running things and we humans are imperfect. We mostly do the best that we can, most of the time. Going further on this theme than this starts to be more Religious in nature and is definitely not a proper subject for discussion here.

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