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On Old Soldiers Refusing to Fade Away

[ 0 ] June 29, 2009 |

I’ve had Vo Nguyen Giap on my death list for four years running. This year in History of Strategic Thought, we read People’s War People’s Army; while the first half is pretty much standard Marxist agitprop, his account of the siege and reduction of Dien Bien Phu is a beautiful thing to behold. A couple of the students were astounded to hear that the old man is still alive. It turns out that not only is he still breathing, but he’s still kicking:

Vietnam’s great war hero, Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, has stood up to defend his country once again, this time against what he says would be a huge mistake by the government — a vast mining operation run by a Chinese company.

Now 97, the commander who led his country to victory over both France and the United States has emerged as the most prominent voice in a broad popular protest that is challenging the secretive workings of the country’s Communist leaders.

In an unusual step, the government has taken note of the criticisms in recent weeks and appears to be making at least gestures of response, saying it will review the project’s environmental impact and slow its full implementation…

… The government might well have brushed off its critics if General Giap had not spoken up, first in January and twice afterward, saying the project “will cause serious consequences to the environment, society and national defense.”

The old campaigner now appeared to be rallying public opinion against the country’s leadership, calling on scientists, managers and social activists to “suggest to the party and the state to have a sound policy on the bauxite projects in the Central Highlands.”

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