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 year. 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 war. 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 Đổi Mới - 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?
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