Biden in Hanoi: The ‘Domino theory’ rises again

By chance, US president Biden’s goodwill visit to Vietnam’s communist government in Hanoi came just 50 years after the notorious 1972 Christmas bombings.

These bombings saw more than 200 American B-52s flying 730 sorties and dropping over 20,000 tons of bombs on North Vietnam over a period of 12 days in December 1972.

The aim: pummel Hanoi into allowing the US to withdraw from the Vietnam War with some kind face.

The Sydney Morning Herald editorialists in December 21 that year also told us the bombings were also ‘moral, and crucial to the credibility of US undertakings.’

Today with smiles and handshakes, the US has returned to the nation it once threatened to bomb back to the Stone Age. Now it is offering equipment and strategic partnership.

The motive is clear: The nation which Washington and Canberra once described as a ‘puppet’ of China bent on southwards domino aggression is now seen as a bulwark against a southwards expanding China. The 1979 Sino-Vietnamese war was a resounding proof.

But for those of us working in Moscow in the early sixties it was obvious much earlier that Hanoi was in the Russian rather than the Chinese camp.

China had helped Hanoi in the early war stages, but Moscow had provided the rockets to bring down those murdering, marauding B52s. In Moscow during the crazy Hasluck 1964 Kremlin meeting aimed to persuade the Soviet leadership to join us in Vietnam we could confirm directly China was providing little aid – that Moscow was and would remain the main provider.

So how can intelligent men entrusted with hard intelligence and the security of Australia get it so wrong about the North Vietnamese being Chinese puppets? And if they could get it so wrong about a something like that, how are we to know today that they have not got it 180 degrees wrong over events much further away in Central Europe?

The Russo-Ukraine war did not begin yesterday. Its seeds go back decades when Ukrainian Neo Nazis left over after World War 11 set about killing and expelling the Russian cultured, Russia-speaking population of Eastern Ukraine territory – territory that had been fecklessly gifted to Ukraine in 1922 and 1954 back in Soviet days.

International attempts in 2014 to stop the killing and create autonomous regions for Russian speakers were quickly sabotaged. Belatedly – far too belatedly – Moscow decided in 2022 to intervene, originally just to stop the killing.

There is no excuse for the slovenliness and barbarity with which some Russian units have behaved since that intervention (think Bucha). But there is also no excuse for the barbarity with which Ukraine’s Russian-hating extremists have and will continue to display in wiping out the pro-Russian population of Eastern Ukraine.