The Economics of Insurgency in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam is the most complete of the Mekong Delta. The results of this study demonstrate significant shortcomings in past U.S. policies. They have already produced striking changes in U.S. economic policy in South Vietnam, particularly in the essential areas of economic assistance and land reform.
Much of the material for this book was obtained through interviews with farmers, landlords, moneylenders, and laborers in the Delta. The author discusses historical and general economic conditions in the area, agricultural productivity, capital and labor, land tenure, fertilizer use, and a subsistence innovation involving the use of an intermediate technology. The analysis focuses not only upon the theoretical issues of development economics, such as disguised unemployment, innovation, and investment decisions, but also upon their larger social and political implications.
Several chapters are devoted to a detailed examination of the Viet Cong and South Vietnamese government economies at war. Particularly significant is the role that economic issues and policies played in the successful efforts by the Viet Cong from 1960 to 1964 to gain the support of the peasant. Land reform, rent reduction, and even a minimum rural-wage policy were employed. The author provides the first documentary evidence that the Viet Cong were a major force for constructive economic and social change in the Delta.
On the other hand, by 1967 massive U.S. economic assistance had gone some distance toward putting the Vietnamese government in a move favorable position with regard to the economic benefits associated with the South Vietnamese government's continued management of the economy. No doubt, however, long-standing economic and social grievances are still a potent force for the Viet Cong, and there is as yet no complete assurance that the revolutionary social and economic changes wrought by the Viet Cong would not be reversed if the Vietnamese government gained complete control in the countryside.