[News] An Obituary for a General

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Oct 8 12:41:47 EDT 2013

October 08, 2013

*An Obituary for a General*

  On Vo Nguyen Giap


The Vietnamese General Vo Nguyen Giap has died. Throughout what was once 
known as the Third World as well as among those with revolutionary 
consciousness in the centers of imperialism, we pay tribute to one of 
the most important figures of the struggle of the oppressed for national 
liberation and socialism.

General Giap, the skilled politician and brilliant military strategist 
who came to prominence by defeating the French forces in the epic battle 
of Dien Bien Phu during the spring of 1954, served as a teacher and 
inspiration to countless revolutionaries worldwide. His revolutionary 
vocation began during his student years and led him first to journalism 
and teaching. In the early '30s he joined the Communist Party of 
Vietnam, which was brutally suppressed by the French colonial regime. 
Like many of his comrades, he was imprisoned and forced into exile. It 
was during a period of exile in China that he forged ties with Ho Chi 
Minh and the group of revolutionaries with which he would found the 
/League for the Independence of Vietnam/, better known as the Viet Minh. 
Upon returning to Vietnam in the mid-40s, he participated in the 
organization of the resistance movement that put an end to the Japanese 
occupation and with the proclamation of the Democratic Republic of 
Vietnam in 1945 he took the post of commander in chief of the People's 
Army. His military career would lead him to successive victories over 
French and American forces in protracted wars that exemplified an 
unparalleled understanding of the dialectic of the main strategic 
categories of military science.

It comes as no surprise that in the imperialist press there is an 
attempt to tarnish Giap's legacy with claims of a supposed disregard for 
human life. The New York Times and other organs of imperialism that have 
published obituaries make repeated references to the large number of 
losses suffered by the Vietnamese troops under his command as a 
diversion from the real crimes committed by the war machines of France 
and the US, those responsible for the slaughter of hundreds of thousands 
of defenseless peasants through indiscriminate bombing campaigns with 
napalm and agent orange. This level of hypocrisy is common among the 
mouthpieces of imperialism who now try to play down Giap's military 
genius while exculpating the real authors of so much death and 
destruction, Western companies that make up the military industrial 
complex -- including manufacturers of biological and chemical weapons 
like Monsanto and Dow -- and their political representatives who 
continue spreading this destructive force throughout the world today.

Among serious students of history, especially those with a revolutionary 
orientation, it is common to appreciate the counterposition of the 
strategic factor of time to the superiority of firepower held by the 
imperialist armies employed by General Giap. It is important to 
remember, however, that Giap always stressed the primacy of the 
political prerequisite for these strategic conceptions: the ideological 
and political education of the people, organized as a people's army. In 
the end, it was the indomitable fighting will of the Vietnamese people, 
a will consistently and patiently cultivated by dedicated political 
cadres, that defeated the modern weapons of imperialism on the 
battlefield and intensified the internal contradictions of a society 
half a world away.

For our generation, the enduring legacy of a figure like Giap lay more 
in his ability to contribute to the political maturity of the Vietnamese 
people than in his military merits, notwithstanding his impressive 
achievements in this field. The central challenge of our time lay in 
cultivating the acquisition of a high degree of political consciousness 
by the exploited and oppressed along with the will to fight to 
collectively free ourselves from the shackles of oppression. We live in 
an era in which, both in the centers of capitalism and the periphery, 
the ruling classes maintain their dominance through the systematic 
perversion of consciousness. This is the most powerful weapon to keep 
the masses subdued, and the biggest obstacle to be overcome. It is in a 
figure like General Giap, however, that we find an example worthy of 
emulation that serves to inspire us to continue the struggle against 
oppression and exploitation.

Long live General Giap!

/*Carlos Borrero* is a New York based writer./

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