Simultaneous bombings in near Saigon floating restaurant (June 26, 1965)

The Viet Cong is believed to have been behind a 1965 twin bombing at the My Canh restaurant in Saigon that killed 31, including five US servicemen.

It is sometimes really, really hard to distinguish between terrorism and legitimate violence against an occupier.

SAIGON, VIETNAM — I count myself lucky. I live in Canada, a country that has not suffered an invasion of any kind since the Americans tried to take over in 1812 and we went and burned down their ‘White House’. Ok that was actually the British but it feels good to say it was us!

No, my nation often calls itself the ‘peaceable kingdom’ for we have indeed been at peace for a very, very long time. And I am very, very grateful for that. I cannot imagine what it must be like to suffer the arrival and occupation of a foreign military force.

Kinda like what happened in Vietnam in the 1960s

The former French colony was the battleground for factions on either side of the Cold War: Communism and Democracy. The US ended up in a quagmire – literally and figuratively as there are a lot of swamps in that southeast Asian nation – for a decade and a half. The Vietnam War became a very unpopular one, one that led to the creation of an entire protest movement and the eventual withdrawal of all US troops in 1975. It took America a decade to get its mojo back.

So if the GIs in Vietnam were unwanted (well, wanted by the South but not by the North) was opposition to them an example of terrorism or, as Ronald Reagan famously put it, ‘freedom fighters’? I guess it all depends on which side you are on.

… only a few shocking reminders of the bombing could be seen outside the floating restaurant. It was cordoned off by police who strung rolls of concertine wire around the restaurant to keep the curious away. From a distance, My Canh itself looked ready to open again for business.

On this day in 1965 the North Vietnamese Viet Cong were believed to be behind two simultaneous bombings near the My Canh restaurant in the South Vietnam capital of Saigon. At least 31 people were killed, including nine Americans (five servicemen). Another 49 were injured. The terrorist strike staged about 500 yards from the US Embassy was the bloodiest of its kind in Saigon during the Vietnamese war.

If I were a Vietnamese citizen in the 1960s and 1970s where would my loyalties lie? To my nation’s independence or to efforts to chase the foreigners out? Hard to say in hindsight…

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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