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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Operations new life/arrivals : U.S. national project to forget the Vietnam War

  • Author(s): Sahara, Ayako
  • et al.

Thesis examines how the Ford administration created and took advantages of the political symbolic value of refugee at the end of the war. This paper argues ways in which the Ford administration turned South Vietnamese allies into refugee subjects to position the US as a moral nation and included them as provisional immigrant subjects. In the first chapter, I critique rescue narrative of the evacuation by analyzing South Vietnamese refugee narratives and Ford's administrational decisions, since the evacuation was the US abandonment of South Vietnam and not fully planned for South Vietnamese people. Although Ford claimed it was moral obligation to help South Vietnamese people and asked military force to alleviate the situation, the main issue was to execute the evacuation of Americans safely. In the second chapter, I reveal the resettlement of South Vietnamese refugees was not as humanitarian operation but rather as military operation and management by analyzing resettlement policy and narratives of Americans and South Vietnamese. Refugee camp was not a "refuge" but an ex-legal/ national space where "differential inclusion" took place. Most of all South Vietnamese had to go through refugee camps to be processed, sponsored and educated and for them those processes were legal subordination, economic exploitation and cultural degradation. Operations New Life/ Arrivals were US national project to forget the defeat of the Vietnam War as South Vietnamese refugees embodied the defeat of the war and the US recuperated its confidence as a moral nation. The idea of the US as a moral nation dismisses the US military violence in Southeast Asia.

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