Hmong Involvement in Vietnam War and the Aftermath (Fall 2012)
The Vietnam War was a war in which two major power country, US and Soviet Union, who were the power holders of what events were to take place in Vietnam and the other neighboring countries around Vietnam. The battle between the two was mainly over political because of the split of Vietnam and the rise of power on the communist side as North Vietnam tried to form a communist country by forcefully reuniting South Vietnam with the help of the Soviet Union. After the French lost power over Vietnam and left Vietnam, there was a power vacuum that resulted to the war. Due to the terrain of Vietnam being a jungle, the US was having many difficulties preventing Soviet and China, Soviets’ ally, from sending in weapons to arm North Vietnamese against the South Vietnamese. The CIA then turned to the Hmong people for help during the Vietnam War against communist insurgents during the war. (Leary, 2008) The US was having little success in bringing down the North Vietnamese as the Hmong were losing to the uprising of the Vietnamese army and the tactics of guerilla warfare was used against the US soldiers in Vietnam. There were enemies everywhere and they were all hard to take out because a majority of the enemy did not have uniforms and dressed up just like civilians. As the US fought the war it was also fighting against another war at home with its people, who were protesting against the war. As time progressed and the US knew there was no hope of winning the war the US then tried to find a way out withdrawing all its troops and getting out of the war. When a ceasefire agreement between both sides was made on February 1972, the US then quickly evacuated their troops and left the Hmong allies to fight the North Vietnamese alone. (Quincy 1995) After US left, the Hmong genocide soon came afterwards for aiding the US.
The Hmong people were recruited by the CIA to deal with the difficulties of the jungle, as they were more aware of the terrain than the American soldiers were. The CIA then trained the Hmong soldiers to fight for them in the war as their main ground troops against North Vietnamese. The some of the main things that US had the Hmong soldiers target mainly on was the Ho Chi Minh trail. The Ho Chi Minh trail was a route that enabled the delivery of weapons to the North Vietnamese because of its spider web-like route that made it hard to track and destroy, which is another reason the CIA recruited the Hmong soldiers because they needed the soldiers to destroy the roads and bridges so that weapon could not be transported to aid the enemy.
The Hmong genocide began after the Americans left. Hmong people were massacred in Laos (Evans 2002) and there was no hope for the Hmong people. The Hmong people fled and moved around constantly always being afraid getting caught and dying. Many died trying to reach Thailand, a safe refuge for the Hmong during the genocide. Thailand allowed the incoming Hmong into their country as a refuge for them, but soon that stopped, as Thailand did not want to Laos and Vietnam to think Thailand was aiding Hmong rebels. (Quincy 1995) The Hmong genocide still takes place today since the Americans left the war. Hmong people are still targeted today for aiding Americans in the past and yet the US is ignoring the cries for help from an ally they left behind. (Lloyd-George)
The Hmong people Laos and Thailand feel betrayed by the US for being allies with them during the war. The surviving Hmong who escaped to Thailand were put into concentration camps in Thailand on which they were closely watched and monitored in case of a rebellion. The abandonment alone is not enough, but to do nothing to help the Hmong people, when in need, is outright betrayal. According to an article by Asian American Press, Thai government deported more than 4,000 refuges back Laos. The best effort the US did in response to this was a speech by Ian Kelly, spokesman for US state department, saying the US is urging the government of Thailand to not send those refuges back to Laos and a letter from several senators along with Feingold, Franken, and Klobuchar, to Abhisit Vejjajiva, prime minister of Thailand. The Thai people were sending over 4,000 Hmong refuges to their death and the US did nothing about it.
The Hmong life after the war did not go very well for the Hmong people who stayed in Laos as they are still being killed today. Hmong life in Thailand is ceasing to be a safe refuge for them also as Hmong are being deported back to Laos even though life in these 3rd world countries are hard enough already with poverty and diseases do to unsanitary environment. The lucky Hmong people who manage to come to the US now face hardship, as the assimilation processed is the hardest part for most Hmong, as many still do not understand the ways of the American culture from theirs like the kidnapping of woman as brides, which some Hmong men learned the hard way by being put in jail. (Quincy 2002) Birthrates also are also a problem as traditional ages of marriage for the Hmong people are when they are young. The Hmong people are also known to have one of the highest rates of people living on welfare due to the lack of education and qualifications for them to work.
The assimilating of Hmong people in the US is also encountering a major problem in the US, as the Hmong people become Americanize. The Hmong culture is rapidly dying out as Hmong people begin to Americanize. A large number Hmong people no longer practice the old Hmong tradition as the Hmong people convert to other religions within the US and intermarry into another culture. (Quincy 2002) The new Hmong generations are losing more and more of their language rapidly today than ever as Hmong people do not know their language.
The US involving the Hmong people in the war had a huge impact on the Hmong people in the outcome of their future in so many different levels of good and bad. With the suffering of the defeat also created a future for the Hmong people that would allow the future generation of Hmong people to live and have a better life in America and have the opportunities that the Hmong people would have not have if the opportunity of going into America was not available to them. The history of war is never a good thing for anyone and although mistakes were made in the past, it is up for the future generation to correct the mistakes and make sure problems like this never happen again.
- Evans, G. (2002). A SHORT STORY OF LAOS. Crows Nest, NSW: Allen & Unwin.
- Quincy, K. (1995). Hmong, history of a people. Cheney, WA: Eastern Washington University Press.
- Montlake, S. (2009, December 29). Do Hmong deported by Thailand face danger in Laos?. The Christian Science Monitor.
- Leaders condemn forced deportation of Hmong. (2010, January 4). Asian American Press.
- Leary, W.M. (2008, June 27). Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intelligence/csi-publications/csi-studies/studies/winter99-00/art7.html
- Llord-George, W. (2011, February 25). The CIA’s ‘Secret War’. The Diplomat.
- Vietnam War. (2012, December 3)