After international criticism, the newly elected
president Nixon finally renounced first use of lethal chemicals in November
1969. But that didn’t involve the use of napalm on military targets. The
American military has never again used chemicals as extensively as it did in
Vietnam. But the legacy remains – Agent Orange destroyed the lives of thousands
of Vietnamese and Americans. The human cast of the chemical war is all too
evident. Deformed children are more likely to be conceived in Vietnam than
almost anywhere in the world. In 1994 the link between agent orange and cancer
was confirmed. Since the end of 1960 around 66 deformed children were born a
One of Vietnam’s greatest post-war achievements is the
planting of trees where there are none left because of the chemicals used in
the war. Every school child in Vietnam plants at least 1 tree a year. The result
is unbelievable, the earth has come alive again.
The last battle of the Vietnam war was the battle of
Koh Tang. The battle started on May 12, 1975, when the US shipping vessel was
attacked by a Khmer Rouge gunboat and taken to the small island of Koh Tang. US
helicopters headed for Koh Tang Island with the intent to save the captured US
marines. The helicopters arrived at the island,but were met with heavy fire
from the Khmer Rouge. The helicopters were being hit and had to abort. The
battle of Koh Tang went on all day, but the US Marines successfully boarded and
took control of the SS Mayaguez. Later, for no clear reason, the Khmer Rouge released
the crew of the SS Mayaguez. The Americans decided they will pull out of the
battle. Nonetheless, that was easier said than done, but after some time they
managed to do just that. The final toll was 18 Americans killed and 50 wounded.
The end of the war came almost by surprise. When the
USA pulled their troops out of Vietnam, the South Vietnamese army collapsed,
because the South Vietnamese soldiers never had their heart in it.
The Vietnam war officially ended on April 30th,
1975. With the North Vietnamese victory, which meant that the American-led
forces had to withdraw from Indochina, the communist governments took power in
South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. The war left many physical and psychological
consequences. The two decades long war left a significant consequence on
Vietnam’s population. An estimated 2millon Vietnamese were killed, 3 million
were wounded and about twelve million became refugees. The war also left a bad
outcome on the infrastructure and the economy.
Nevertheless, Vietnam was not the only one that suffered a horrible
effect from the war. The Americans lost 58,200 women and men in the Vietnam
With the Americans finally gone Vietnam was made into
an international pariah. The USA mounted an embargo that covered both trade and
humanitarian aid. The Hanoi government hoped to end their dependence on the
Soviet Union, but the blockade gave them nowhere else to turn.
In the late 1980s the Vietnamese government declared a
policy the called ??i M?i – the aim was to break out of the economic siege for
so-called free market was embraced, foreigners were welcomed and the embargo
became to crumble. At the same time, personal freedom was encouraged and people
began to speak and criticize openly.
Today Vietnam has been declared an open market and its
people are cheap labour pool. America effectively runs the currency, Japan the
money landing, Singapore the property market and Taiwan and Korea the sweatshops.
Despite the fact that Hanoi is not a luxurious city, luxurious
golf clubs and exclusive resorts are being built with the Vietnamese hired as
golf caddies. The clubs are meant for the rich businessman from all over the
world, not for the Vietnamese (they are too expensive for them).
Life has been easier and more pleasant, because there
is a lot more freedom, and economically speaking everybody’s life has improved.
Vietnam is now a socialist country, but after some time it is predicted to become
a capitalistic country.
Regardless of the fact that Vietnam is in many ways a
better state than it was, not everything is better. After the war, the
universal education produced a literacy rate of 90%. Today education is no
longer free, and ¾ of children have been pushed out of the system which has
been tailored to the needs of the new labour market.
In conclusion, the Vietnam war, or the American war,
as the Vietnamese call it, was the longest war in the 20th century,
a cruel and costly conflict that hurt the Vietnam nation in many ways. However,
the interesting reality is that the Vietnamese don’t resent the Americans, they
forgot about that, while the Americans can’t forget because they lost the war.
Decades after the war ended Vietnam is still a
communist state. Nevertheless, it has become successful and is now one of the
fastest-growing economies in East Asia, thanks to the fact that they opened up
to foreign investment. But, with all these foreigners coming into this country
we have to ask ourselves, is there a danger that they might, by other means,
achieve what they could not achieve through war?