> Vietnam and the Cold War
> Tragedy and a Profound Impact
> From Vietnam to Iraq
dilluns, 20 de novembre de 2006
George Bush, president of the United States, is about to finish a tour of Asia that he started on 14 November. The US head of state's trip has included a stopover in Vietnam, where the United States engaged in a devastating war that lasted for many years.
In Vietnam, Bush took part in a meeting covering trade and economic issues organised by Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). The meeting, however, did not take away from the symbolic value of the trip. In fact, Bush is the first republican president to visit the communist regime of Vietnam (the first US president to go was Bill Clinton in 2000).
However, increasingly in recent weeks, the media has been full of analysis comparing the conflict in Vietnam with that of Iraq, where the violence seems unstoppable, and with Bush himself admitting only a few days ago that there may be similarities between the two wars.
To make matters worse, Bush's Republican Party lost the legislative elections on 7 November. The electoral jolt was felt immediately with the sacking of Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, lead strategist for the war in Iraq.
Vietnam and the Cold War
The Vietnam War lasted twenty long years, from 1954 to 1975 and was preceded by another war: the struggle by Vietnam's communists led by the revolutionary Ho Chi Minh against French colonisation. In 1954, following defeat of the French, agreement was reached to split the country in two: one part being communist, in the north, and the other being pro-US, in the south. This was to be followed by a referendum to vote on reunification of the country, something that never ended up taking place. Instead, events led to a conflict between North Vietnam, aided by China and the USSR, and South Vietnam with the support of the United States. In addition to the Korean War, the war in Vietnam turned into one of the bloodiest episodes of the so-called Cold War (1947-1991), a period of history characterised by opposition between the Communist Bloc and the capitalist world.
Tragedy and a Profound Impact
The Vietnam War didn't end until 1975, two years after the withdrawal of US troops. The following year, in 1976, Vietnam was reunified as a communist regime. The war devastated the country causing massive loss of life running into millions (some sources estimate that more than one-seventh of Vietnamese were killed or wounded during the conflict). The Vietnam War also claimed the lives of more than 58,000 US soldiers and had a profound political, economic and social impact on a United States that was very divided, low in confidence and morally bruised.
From Vietnam to Iraq
Without overlooking the fact that there are significant differences, some analysts point out similarities between the conflicts of Vietnam and Iraq. Such as? Well, for example, the inability of the US military to put an end to the conflict, the US's reduced moral credibility, differences between what the government says and the reality of the battlefield, and a population that is increasing in favour of its troops returning home.
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