Vietnam's (meager) resources

Jim heartfield Jim at
Tue Jun 2 11:38:32 PDT 1998

In message <l03130305b199d76c1344@[]>, Doug Henwood <dhenwood at> writes
>Why is it so hard to believe that the U.S. really *was* fighting Communism
>in Vietnam? Why do we have to assume the war really was over some precious
>natural resource? The domino effect may have been ludicrous in strictly
>military terms, but if the U.S. hadn't spent the last 50 years destroying
>socialist and nationalist revolutions (and the USSR), the world would be a
>very different place.

I think this makes more sense than the endless quest to find the mineral deposits that spur the imperialists on to war. You could see what they meant in the case of Iraq - just (after all it wasn't as if there was a problem at the level of oil shortages, more likely the war had the effect of stemming the oil glut). But what on all Earth would be the natural resource that drove the West into Somalia, or Haiti.

It was always a vulgar reading of imperialism that the troops went in to dig up natural resources. Adventures like Thatcher's invasion of the Falklands or the endless baiting of Gadaffi in the eighties were about establishing political authority in the world, not directly about resources. Presumably the point was that by winning political domination, any attack on resources was made less likely.

If you read Norman Schwarzkopf's memoirs he makes it clear that Saddam Hussein became public enemy number one because that spot was vacated by the Soviet Union, not because of any economic interest (meaning I suppose that April Glaspie told the Iraqis the truth, before the truth was rewritten). The organisation of Nato depended on having a clear target. When the SU gave up, Schwarzkopf directed US attention to their former ally. After the Gulf war was over, Colin Powell was quoted as saying that he was running out of dictators to beat up on, there was only Fidel and Kim Il Sung left. Political priorities came first. -- Jim heartfield

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