17 NOVEMBER 2001, Page 38

Vietnam not in vain

From Mr John Colvin, CMG Sir: Matthew Parris (Another voice, 3 November) declared that Vietnam ended in palpable humiliation, presumably for the US. It did not.

The American effort in Vietnam, however ultimately unsuccessful in the peninsula, held the line long enough to permit the secure establishment of a democratic market economy outside Indo-China itself. The existence in liberty of the Association of South East Asian Nations (Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, the Philippines, Thailand, Brunei) and the prosperity and independence of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan all spring from US resistance to tyranny in Vietnam.

They are monuments to the American dead in Indo-China, and to all those men of the US armed forces whose presence in Vietnam gave the rest of Asia the time to grow, unharassed and at peace. That was not in vain.

The above is taken from my Twice Around the World (Leo Cooper, 1991). Only a publication controlled by Hanoi has since attempted to contradict a thesis which applies to terrorism today as it did to Marxist-Leninist aggression then.

John Colvin

Consul-General in Hanoi, 1965-67, London SW1