Vietnam War: the Сomplete Truth About the Tragedy of Those Years

Polina
Polina
Updated: 27 May 2019
Time to read: 22 minutes
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Vietnam war is one of the most horrible and disgusting events of the twentieth century. Most frequently, the American interpretation of that war is presented in mass-media, but is everything true? Let’s make a tour to the history and decide if everything published or shown in movies is close to reality.

Background

Humans are so strange… Everybody understands that any war is deaths, suffering and tears. Any person with mental health knows that there is no romance in wars at all. It is impossible to find any reasons in order to justify peaceful inhabitants’ deaths. There are no reasons for it at all! But at the same time most people cannot feel the other persons’ suffering like theirs. If somebody loses a wallet, he will worry, but if it is a war somewhere far away, it will be taken like something valid and common. That’s why most events what happened many years ago are not seen very interesting. Especially there is such a situation with events happened in a country thousands of miles away.

The most important problem is the following: some historical events can happen again. Vietnam’s tragedy is coming to the other countries. Can people be sure that it will not come to them?

Motives for Vietnam war

The most important reason of any war can be found if we ask: who benefited from that? For Americans the answer will be: «We wanted to give Vietnam’s churlish natives a democracy flame». However, the Americans are trying to give this «democracy flame» to communities of Iraq, Libya, Syria. And we remember very well, how they showed all «pleasures of democracy» to people of Yugoslavia.

Vietnam War

Vietnam war was the time of strong confrontation between two different ideologies. At that time the country was separated into two parts. Liberation movement of North Vietnam was supported by the Soviet Union, and South Vietnam was a protectorate of the USA. It happens very often, that internal contradictions begin first and then the war starts, and the situation in Vietnam was just the same. The country had been a French colony for a long time. Liberal movement started there in the forties of the twentieth century. A very interesting fact: Ho Chi Minh, the leader of liberal movement against French colonizers, was supported by the USA very strongly. It was profitable for the USA that «Viet Minh» (a national independence coalition formed by Ho Chi Minh) was fighting furiously against Japanese occupiers. «Uncle Ho» was fighting in China at that time. American government gave him huge amounts of money for the weapon, because Vietnamese and Chinese communists were killing enemies of the USA.

After Japanese capitulation the situation changed in all respects. Ho Chi Minh and his proponents’ squads had captured Hanoi and were moving on to North Vietnam. France did not want to lose their influence in Indochina, that’s why they redeployed their forces to that part of Vietnam, but they failed and could not confront Ho Chi Minh’s squads.

The USA had begun to help France since 1950. That meant that the long and bloody war had started… They were very afraid of the expansion of communists’ influence in Asia, that’s why 80 per cent of all military spending there was paid by American government. Those years were the most horrible in the history of Vietnam. Tourists coming to Vietnam can find out more about it if they visit Hoa Lo Prison. It was known as the «Hanoi Hilton», now the gatehouse is a museum.

The museum is located in the historical part of the city, it is situated between the central railway station and the Hoan Kiem Lake (or «Lake of the Restored Sword»). The exposition of the museum shows the visitors how fighters for Vietnam’s independence were tortured. About two thousand of people were kept and tormented to death in Hoa Lao Prison in 1954. «Civilized people» were unbelievably cruel!

Hoa Lo Prison Museum, Hanoi

It is very difficult to imagine now, but Vietnam’s history could be much more tragic. It is a known fact that Vice President Richard Nixon recommended to bomb and to defeat Vietnam by tactical nuclear weapons. People all over the world remember about nuclear bombing of Japan. The Geneva Convention in 1954, July, prevented that madness. In accordance with it Vietnam was divided by so called «Demilitarized Zone» into two parts: South and North Vietnam. France lost its influence there and almost immediately granted independence to North Vietnam.

All hostilities in Vietnam were ceased for a short period of time. But «which-hunt» began in the USA: communists’ ideology was prohibited, any world event had to be viewed through the «lens» of the own security. However, it is a custom nowadays… In that case it was really fateful decision. The dissemination of communism in China and in North Vietnam was considered the threat of losing influence in Asia.

France could do nothing against Ho Chi Minh’s squads, and the USA decided to change tactics. They supported the first president of South Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem. Among Vietnamese people this person is associated with mindless dictatorship and repressions of Buddhism. Tourists who visit the Hue town and want to see attractions of it, can look at a car, in which a Buddhist monk Thich Quang Duc arrived to Saigon and committed self-immolation. He wanted to raise his voice against repressions of Buddhism. The tragic event was tape-recorded.

The result of Ngo Dinh Diem’s brutal reign was the emergence of the opposition in South Vietnam. In December of 1961 many guerilla groups joined together in the National Liberation Front of South Vietnam. It was called «The Vietcong» in the USA and in Europe.

Americans understood: the Vietcong and North squads wanted to join, but that should not be allowed. It meant that the fall of Ngo Dinh Diem’s regime would happen soon. In December of 1961 two United States air force helicopter squadrons arrived to South Vietnam.

Most people think that John Kennedy was «a dove of peace», but actually he was not. The Office of Kennedy showed to the Soviet Union their determination to eliminate communism in the world. South Vietnam military was taught by American advisers how to struggle against Vietnamese guerilla groups. Thinks got heated, the threat of losing South Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia became too realistic. They said that Ngo Dinh Diem was too greedy and that his army could not fight correctly, that’s why they failed.

On November 2 in 1963 Ngo Dinh Diem was killed in strange circumstances. The coup happened, and there were more two coups next two years.

At the same time, by a vicious twist of fate, John Kennedy was gunned down, and the next president was Lyndon Johnson. He immediately signed a document with decision to send additional troops to Vietnam. An American limited pool was about 760 people in 1959, and in 1964 it was about 23300 already. The «hot phase» of confrontation between two different ideologies started.

They needed an excuse to begin a full-scale bloodbath. The American U.S.S. «Maddox» arrived to Tokyo Bay, and it was fired by Vietnamese troops. Later the information was refuted, but who was wondering?  We can see a direct analogy for nowadays: for example, we know about so-called «uranium files», which were used to find reasons for making war in Iraq.

Pierce Arrow Military Operation

Lyndon Johnson signed the order to bomb North Vietnam («Pierce Arrow» military operation). «Tokyo Resolution» was adopted unanimously by the United States Congress, there was only one voice against it. Common Americans were not nervous about that war: nobody was going to die on someone else’s land. They were agree that it was necessary «for nation’s solidarity and defense of democracy», but how was that relevant to them, really?

At the beginning of February 1968 the contingent of American military staff in Vietnam was about a half of a million. Vietnamese people were struggling mightily for their independence. When the first coffins were sent to the USA from Vietnam, the anti-war concerns had greatly increased. The horrible war came to common Americans’ families…

The war in air was lost, American army failed in South Vietnam, and talks on the cessation of hostilities started in spring of 1968. Further events can be called «double-standards». The United States Administration declared publicly, that the troops would be withdrawn from South Vietnam, and in fact about 210 thousand soldiers returned home. But really, Saigon forces continued to be armed by American government, and the average strength of forces was about one million at that time. They received the most modern American weaponry.

In 1969, when Richard Nixon declared about the end of the war during the president election, the American public was delighted with it. But they had got short memories: Lyndon Johnson told them exactly the same, and it was a lie. Anyway, Richard Nixon was elected President. Coffins with young American guys continued to arrive to the USA, American people did not want to give somebody somewhere «democracy values» anymore.

Bombers

By the way, in 1970 much more bombs got dropped on the Vietnamese land than in previous five years. Every American politicians’ public statement was a lie.

Appetite comes with eating, and it was already impossible to stop the war: it became so profitable! Weapons companies wanted more and more profit. Huge territories in Vietnam were burnt with napalm and phosphorus, dioxin was used during that war (the most toxic substance at that time). It is impossible to watch documentaries about those events without feeling outrage. Children with genetic deformities have been still born in Vietnam.

Nowadays we know that about 14 million tons of explosive substances were bombed during all time of that conflict. American political and economic elite earned fantastic profits, maybe that’s why the war was continuing so indefinitely.

The USA had to stop the war at the beginning of 1973 because of internal unrest and material and human losses. The «triumphal» war ended in disgraceful defeat. But military and financial aid to Saigon regime had been provided till 1975.

Война во Вьетнаме – одно из самых страшных событий в истории страны, произошедших за последнее столетие. Мы часто видим на экранах американскую интерпретацию, но так ли было на самом деле? Давайте сделаем небольшой экскурс в историю.

Outcomes

Vietnamese people were struggling for about ten years, they were fighting heroically and desperately. Not only will to win helped them, and it was a very strange war. In fact it was the struggle between different political systems. The Soviet Union and China helped the communistic North, the support was enormous. Military specialists from the USSR taught Vietnamese soldiers, a lot of weapon was sent to Vietnam, The Soviet Union provided material assistance to the country. It would be impossible to win that war without all of it.

Military Operation during Vietnam War

The Second Indochina war between Vietnam and the USA ended, when the Saigon Independence Palace was captured in April of 1975. A little bit later two parts of Vietnam united in one country.

Vietnamese people are proud of their heroic history. They upheld the right to independence and self-determination. Many completely destroyed towns and villages, millions of crippled people, burned woods and fields – this is the price of that war.

But the country survived, it is developing, and tourists can find out the details of those unfortunate events only in museums. Most Vietnamese young people study English, they are ready to communicate with tourists and to help them. They extend hospitality to everybody, who is coming to Vietnam and wants to have a rest on the beaches of the South China Sea.

When tourists get tired of sand and the sea, they can book an excursion and have a look at guerilla catacombs. These excursions cause ambivalent feelings. On the one hand, everybody can feel respect, admires the courage and determination of Vietnamese people. On the other hand, we can notice commerce everywhere. There are posters with patriotic texts and portraits of «Uncle Ho» everywhere, teenagers wear red ties… And at the same time everyone bows to «green papers» (dollars). The situation in Vietnam now is similar to times of the USSR in the nineties of the twentieth century.

Phu Quoc Coconut Prison

Vietnam war became a shameful page in the history for the USA… About sixty thousand American soldiers and officers were killed, more than three hundred thousand of Americans were crippled. About four million dollars were paid for the Saigon dictatorship. Of course, the top bracket in the USA had made huge amounts of money during years of war, but only they made a profit, not common American people.

Total impunity, confidence in the purposes, trust in «the most perfect American development model» – those were the main reasons for Vietnam war.

Attractions

If you are interested in the history of Vietnam and want to find out more about Vietnam war, welcome to museums and the other attractions here:

    • Hoa Lo Prison, Hanoi;
    • Vietnam War Remnants museum, Ho Chi Minh city;
    • Da Nang museum.

Ku Chi Tunnels

Vietnam War in Movies

Of course, a lot of films about Vietnam war were made in Hollywood. Difficulties and hardship of American soldiers in Vietnam are shown in these movies.

We prepared an article with the list of films about those events.

And certainly, there are many documentaries about Vietnam war. Persons with weak nerves should not watch it!

Documentary: Complete History of Vietnam War

Polina
Author
Polina
Since 2013, we live with a spouse in different countries, including China, the Philippines, the United States, and Vietnam. I dance, teach pole dance and write about our travel.
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