Vietnam War Consequences
The Vietnam War's Agent Orange legacy - Unreported World
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They had problems like drug use, post-traumatic stress disorder, and soldiers attacking officers. Between and , over , US military personnel deserted. There were a lot of protests about the war in Vietnam. Many people got killed and many more saw their friends get killed. It was really bad for those who lived through it all. At the end of , the communist leaders in Hanoi were also getting impatient. They wanted to strike a blow that would force the United States to give up. They planned an attack on about cities and towns in South Vietnam. The US and the South Vietnamese forces were taken by surprise.
But then they struck back and soon all of the communist targets were captured, but only for a short time. General Westmoreland had said that victory in Vietnam was imminent. But this was not true. He ended up asking the US government for more troops. He promised to stop the war and to work for peace. People liked him more after that, and the peace talks started in Paris that year. Nevertheless, the discussion soon reached a stop. After a bad election year that was full of violence, Richard Nixon became the new US president. He also increased war casualties by withdrawing troops from Vietnam, bombing more often, and giving weapons to South Vietnamese soldiers.
Nixon also continued peace talks in Paris, but he added secret talks that Henry Kissinger led. The North Vietnamese kept insisting that the US should withdraw completely and unconditionally from Vietnam as conditions for peace. The US disagreed. As a result, peace talks reached a stall. The next few years brought even more violence. A terrible massacre happened in where US soldiers killed more than unarmed Vietnamese civilians.
This caused protests to grow stronger throughout and Many anti-war demonstrations were happening all over the United States. On November 15, , the largest anti-war demonstration in American history happened. More than a quarter of a million people gathered in peace to ask for the withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam. The anti-war movement was strong on college campuses. Some young people supported it because they were tired of the war. Other Americans thought that opposing the government was not right and unpatriotic.
This violated international law. So this led to worse protests on college campuses across America. Ten days later, two students were killed by police at Jackson State University in Mississippi. In , North Vietnam attacked the south but they failed. Hanoi wanted to make a peace agreement with the United States. They made one by December and people in South Vietnam said no. Fighting between the North and South of Vietnam went on until April More than two decades of fighting had killed many people. There was also a lot of destruction too like buildings and roads, so it took a long time to fix that.
In , Vietnam became the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. But there was still violence for a few more years. There were conflicts with nearby countries like China and Cambodia. In , a free market policy began to be put in place. The economy improved because of oil export and foreign capital. Trade relations resumed with the US in the s. After the Vietnam War, there was high inflation in the United States because a lot of money had been spent on the war. The Vietnam War ruined the idea that the Americans are invincible. It made people from America angry and divided them. The war also damaged the returning soldiers. Some of them were hurt or had been exposed to toxic chemicals including Agent Orange.
The main reason for this was the so-called Ho Chi Minh trail, a supply line that stretched along the spine of the entire country that enabled the communist powers in the north to supply the communist guerrillas the Viet Cong in the south. However, most of this road network was actually located in neighbouring Cambodia and also ran through parts of Laos. The regular bombing of both countries took place under the orders of American presidents Lyndon Johnson in office —69 and Richard Nixon — Unlisted CIA plans black ops were also carried out.
They were unofficial and illegal , as America had never formally declared war or confirmed to the public that combat operations were taking place in either Cambodia or Laos. The instability caused by this unofficial military activity allowed the communists of North Vietnam to help support a communist revolution and civil war in Cambodia. This would lead to the formation of the Khmer Rouge regime in power from —79 , which was responsible for the infamous Cambodian genocide. The country had never been split like this before; the two areas were artificial, with no natural boundary between them, so it was highly likely that one or both sides would attempt to reunite the country by force.
However, the North was backed by communist China and the Soviet Union, and the South was backed by the west. But in practical terms, with respect to both finances and equipment, it was America which supported the South. Vietnam became a testing ground for weapons. Similarly, while the AK had been in use for nearly 20 years, this was the first time it was used wholesale against the American M The AK, with the larger clip of bullets 30 versus 20 and fewer moving parts, meant that it rarely jammed and was the perfect jungle ambush weapon. America and others feared that after China and North Korea had fallen to communism, Vietnam might well fall, too.
Would Singapore or Australia fall? Some of the grimmest stories about equipment malfunctions during the Vietnam War had to do with the M It was shipped from the US initially with incompatible ammunition, meaning that after firing only a few shots the gun would jam. Several dead Americans were found in the jungle next to their stripped-down rifles. They had attempted to dismantle, clean and rebuild their weapons under fire in order to try and shoot back. Similarly, the new Chinook helicopters were prone to catastrophic failures.
It transpired that soldiers were overloading the cargo bays. Ground staff were filling the helicopters to capacity with heavy equipment, assuming the double-rotor aircraft could take it. Multiple Chinooks crashed, killing their crews, because of this fundamental fault. Tet is the biggest holiday of the year in Vietnam, and in there was an agreed ceasefire so that everyone could celebrate. However, the Viet Cong saw this as an opportunity to infiltrate a number of key cities in the south, from which they launched attacks on 31 January.
Viet Cong commandos even assaulted the US embassy in Saigon, possibly the most heavily defended compound anywhere in the world. To many in America, this seemed like a humiliating defeat for their forces in Vietnam. Up until Tet, most of the fighting had been in the jungles, where Viet Cong guerrillas surfaced without warning and disappeared just as suddenly, using the cover of dense foliage and a widespread network of tunnels. Now the Viet Cong were in an urban environment with no heavy artillery, armour or anything like the numbers of combatants compared to the Americans. Within weeks, the American forces annihilated the Viet Cong. The Viet Cong were never an effective fighting force on their own again after this offensive, and all subsequent combat operations were dominated by the North Vietnamese Army.
The American military had been saying for more than a year that the Viet Cong were being constantly ground down. So by January , America assumed the Viet Cong were on their last legs. For the Viet Cong to be able to mount such an ambitious offensive proved the American military had been either lying or caught with their trousers down. This is one of the best examples in history that winning the narrative is sometimes more important than winning the battle.
While nearly 60, Americans lost their lives in the war, more than 3. By the end of the war in , America had dropped more than seven million tonnes of bombs on Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos — more than had been dropped during all of the Second World War. Thousands of tonnes of defoliant, known as Agent Orange, destroyed thousands of acres and poisoned the land, killing both humans and livestock and resulting in birth defects in unborn babies. In conclusion, the story of the Vietnam War combines 19th-century imperialism with 20th-century communist history and late 20th-century American foreign policy.