Vietnam was a nation that I was fascinated with and admired ever since my childhood when the legendary battle of Dien Bin Phu was fought by the Vietnamese people against French colonial rule under the brave leadership of their legendary National Hero and first President Ho Chi Minh. Many people would not know that the Vietnamese nation has the unique distinction in recent history of defeating foreign aggression not only from France but earlier from Japan and later from the United States and China.
Self-discipline is a natural corollary of any nation which prides itself in being sensitive to its national honor and a nationalistic pride in their nation.
A week ago I had the opportunity to visit Vietnam to attend an International Workshop on the South China Sea conflicts imposed by China on its smaller neighbors. It was a great opportunity to study at first hand and reflect as how such a small nation could have repelled aggression in the past from virtually all the major powers of today.
Reflecting historically and relating it to contemporary security challenges that Vietnam faces today the conclusions that one arrived at was that Vietnam as a nation has a tremendous sense of nationalism and a clinging belief that Vietnam’s national honor is sacrosanct and no power big or small can be allowed to trifle with it. No sacrifices were too great to protect Vietnam’s national honor.
Self-discipline is a natural corollary of any nation which prides itself in being sensitive to its national honor and a nationalistic pride in their nation. Vietnam had an abundance of this quality as it repelled aggression from major powers of the day and fought them to a stalemate.
Nothing is more telling than the last pictures of United States inglorious exit from Saigon (now Ho Chi Minh City) after vainly trying for years to impose its military will in the 1960s and early 1970s. It showed the last US helicopter taking off from the roof of the abandoned US Embassy with North Vietnamese troops having already over-run Saigon.
Relating all these admirable Vietnamese national attributes to the Indian scene one wonders as to how far and up India would have ascended if India’s political leaders could have displayed the same sense of sensitivity to India’s national honor and inspired Indian nationalism in the Indian people and that Indian political leaders also were capable of the same strategic audacity, determination to withstand Chinese military coercion and Pakistan’s collusiveness with China to destabilize India.
Indian Government’s supine submission to China’s recent military aggression in Ladakh’s Daulat Beg Oldi area 19 kilometres deep into Indian Territory is a case in point and speaks it all.