Vietnam since the Fall of Saigon

Vietnam since the Fall of Saigon

Vietnam since the Fall of Saigon

Vietnam since the Fall of Saigon

Excerpt

In the past few years, Vietnam has begun to fade gradually from the American consciousness. Today, public attention centers primarily on the fate of the American soldiers missing in action during the war, or on the so-called "lessons of Vietnam" for American policy elsewhere in the Third World. The United States has been willing to accept substantial numbers of refugees from the three wartorn countries of Indochina. But there is little interest or concern for what is happening in Vietnam itself since the end of the recent conflict.

This is an ironic and not entirely reassuring commentary on the consistency of the American national purpose. For nearly two decades, Vietnam was virtually the main issue in U.S. politics. Over fifty thousand American lives were lost in the conflict, as well as untold billions of dollars in an unsuccessful effort to save Vietnam from communism. In the process, the United States not only lost a war, but its innocence (and some would say its honor) as well. Perhaps the current attitude of indifference to the results of that enterprise is a collective way of healing wounds left by the war on the national psyche. It is worthy of note that a new generation of young Americans untouched by the emotions of the past is curious about the war, its causes and its consequences.

Whatever the case, Americans cannot hope to come to terms with the national experience in Vietnam without an understanding of the events that have taken place in that country since the fall of Saigon in 1975. It was, after all, one of the primary contentions of U.S. policymakers that the Vietnamese people were unsympathetic to communism and that a communist victory would lead to a "bloodbath" of pro-Western elements in South Vietnam. Critics of the war retorted that the revolutionary movement had substantial support in the South, and that the bulk . . .

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