Historical Relativism

North and South Vietnam are totally different, the north culturally Chinese, the south culturally akin to its Theravada Buddhist Southeast Asian neighbors, with which it was part until the Viets overran it a few centuries back.  They showed no mercy to the Chams in the process, decimating them almost to the point of genocide, then proceeding to wrest the Mekong Delta from the Khmers.  Siam and Vietnam were in the process of dividing Laos and Cambodia up amongst themselves when the French intervened and decided that they would take it instead, and Vietnam, too.  Nobody ever had to take Siam; just ask for what you want nicely.  Genghis figured that out long ago.  When he left Burma, he left the Tai Shans in charge.  All of which just goes to show what Vietnam can do to you.  That the tribal Tais there can co-exist with some degree of dignity is a testament to their own endurance, but the writing’s on the wall.  Tribal Tais are steadily migrating to lesser-populated Laos.  The US, too, finally decided to cut and run, rather than pursue a hopeless cause.  Let’s call it ‘peace with honor’.

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