What Was The Legacy Of The Vietnam

War Essay, Research Paper

In my opinion the Vietnam War was a terrible experience for both of the fighting sides. In this war both of the fighting sides lost huge amounts of troops, warfare, and civilian lives. The ideas and beliefs of people around the world about the Vietnam War are very different because of the controversy over this issue. The Vietnam War brought the United States shame and disgrace in the eyes of the outside world and the citizens of United States. The Vietnam War is a stain on the United States history. This stain still remains on the American flag after twenty-five years.

Perhaps the greatest impact of the Vietnam War was left on the American citizen. Many of these citizens had shown their strong emotions against the war from the very beginning. The National Guard shootings in the Kent State diseaster is an example of how most people felt about the Vietnam War. There was a sense of distrust between the government and the people. The actions and the orders made by the government were mostly against the public s opinion and this caused a great sense of hostility and distrust towards the American government by its people. The Vietnam War was a product of the American culture. As Colonel Zeb B. Bradford said:

The great strength of US fighting forces historically has been precisely that they have exploited their peculiarly American qualities and attributes. Highly mechanized and technical warfare reinforces our tendencies and talents and serves as a vehicle for evolutionary advance-counterinsurgency goes against the grain. We are a rich, industrial, urban country. Highly technical forces are compatible with our characteristics and resources. (Page 321, BackFire)

For more than a century the United States has been playing a peacemaker in the western countries and especially the so-called third World Nations . This is what got us into the Spanish war, World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. Americans have always had this view towards other countries and this is almost mixed within our culture. The Vietnam War acted as a catalyst for a change in this view. The images shown by the media, the Television, the Newspapers, the magazine headlines and articles provoked the nation’s anger and turned the streets and colleges into chaos. After the war many Americans stopped supporting the United States influence of other nations.

One of the groups who are affected the most by the Vietnam War are the veterans who fought in the war. Upon returning from Vietnam American soldiers received a cold welcome from the public. It stemmed from a deep hatred felt by many Americans for the war and the way it ended. This made many veterans feel alienated.

It s a big army, this legion of men with hidden wounds. Dr. John P. Wilson, a Cleveland State University psychologist who recently completed a three-year study of the War s aftereffects, says that P.T.S.D. afflicts 500,000 of Vietnam s combat veterans. Other researchers put the number at 700,000 which would give a psychiatric casualty rate among combatants of 50 to70 percent. (Page 107, The Vietnam War)

These people fought for months and years in the swamps and rice paddies of Vietnam. They had to fight in conditions unknown and certainly uncomfortable to them, and worst of all these soldiers had to face the battles each day. The landscape doesn t change much. For days and days you see just about nothing. It s unfamiliar-always unfamiliar. Even when you go back to the same place, it s unfamiliar. And it makes you feel as though, well, there s nothing left in the world but this. (Page 36, Home From the War). Surviving in these conditions and seeing several dead bodies each day (sometimes knowing who the bodies belonged to) was awfully harsh for these nineteen, twenty year olds.

In some views Vietnam was a victory for communism and a defeat for the United States. The Soviet Union and the United States have had conflicts over Southeast Asia for decades. The South East Asian countries are mostly wanted for their raw material and their agriculture South East Asia is the so-called rice Bowl which helps to feed the densely populated region that extends from India to Japan. It is rich in many raw materials, such as tin, oil, rubber, and iron ore. It offers industrial Japan potentially important markets and sources of raw materials. This area also has great strategic value. Southeast Asia is astride the most direct and best developed sea and air routes between the control of Southeast Asia. (Page 20, The Vietnam War)

We fail miserably to understand the people, cultures and histories of other nations. In the Vietnam War there was very little communication between the United States and the Vietnamese forces and Vietnamese citizens. These two nations were simply unfamiliar with each other. All US officials-those who needed to know most-lived in little Americas Villas or compounds fenced in with barbed wire and defense posts. The most blatant forms of racism were spawned in a them against us attitude shared by nearly every American. Little or no respect was ever shown by the foreigners to Vietnamese customs, traditions, religious beliefs or values. (Page 155 The Vietnam War)

I think that after the Vietnam war the approach of the United States to other countries changed. The United States policy became less involved in some of the international matters and I believe that this is due to better understanding of the different cultures.

The Vietnam War drastically changed the course of American History. The American policies on foreign affairs, domestic politics, and cultural and social history were greatly changed by this event.

For many, the Vietnam War and the conflict, changes, and divisions it caused in the United States is the defining event of the later part of this century. Twenty years later, we still see and feel the effects of the war. At the end we try to figure out the mistakes we made and try not to repeat them. Fortunately, the Vietnam War had some positive impacts on the policy and the attitude of the United States inside and outside the country.


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