Table of Contents
Decades later, any acknowledgement of Vietnam corresponds to the dark legacy of the 1945-1975 war. The three-decade war erupted from anti-colonialism against the French, which later advanced to a cold war dispute between foreign communists and anti-communists. Receiving support from China and the Soviet Union, North Vietnam adopted communism, while the South receiving support from the United States, advocated for free-trade democracy. After a series of warfare from both sides, United States’ intense action reduced and retrieved from the war, allowing the North to breach the South and develop a single communist Vietnam Government. Post-1975, Vietnam’s political, social, and economic frameworks were in chaos due to psychological and physical consequences. Furthermore, foreign relations froze due to the opposition between communist and anti-communist nations, which may take time to rebuild completely. Therefore, the Vietnam War displays significant physical, psychological, economic, political, and sociocultural effects and impacts on international relations.
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Result of the Vietnam War
Like other wars, the extended Vietnam War resulted in intense physical and psychological ramifications. Approximately two million people died, while about three hundred thousand went missing. Losing loved ones left families and young ones devastated and emotionally affected. Moreover, toxic chemicals, including “Agent Orange,” poisoned plants, water, and soil, affecting veterans and community lives (Appau et al., 2021). The toxic chemicals emulated long-term effects on the Vietnamese, including pollution and limiting agricultural growth, while human exposure risked developing congenital disabilities and cancer-related conditions.
The political and economic effects of the Vietnam War continue to be an ongoing dialogue, allowing the country to learn from the consequences. The United States experienced a significant split in its political organization between democrats and republicans, enhancing Ronald Regan’s 1980 appeal and shaping the region’s policies (Awaworyi Churchill et al., 2020). The economic situation reduced, leading to inflation since the productive workforce involved in the war died or remained disabled, limited tourism, polluted environments, little agricultural progress, and new leadership structures produced an impoverished and suffering system.
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Vietnam experienced significant social and cultural effects from the war. Mid-ward in the 1960s, anti-protest organizations, culminated after U.S President Johnson propositioned intense action against the communists in the war. As the Vietnamese collaborated to kill the war and its effects, America started suffering and experienced division in its territory since the citizens were against the fighting. In addition, the South experienced a surge in human population due to increased refugees from the North escaping the war zones (Forrest et al., 2018). Therefore, Vietnam had to unite under one leadership, mixing communist and non-communist sociocultural structures after the war.
Influence on International Relations
The international relationship between the primary nations involved in the war shifted, and the leaders devised various mechanisms to restore connections. France’s Charles de Gaulle enhanced polycentrism in Western cultures in his motion to attain independence (Gruszczyk, 2018). In 1964, France outreached to China and began plans to establish a constructive relationship with the Soviet Union, opening space and opportunity for communist and non-communist nations to unite. Having lost in the colonialism war with Vietnam, the French president found the chance to link America with China and Russia.
However, the United States’ objective of increasing its invasion tactics in North Vietnam disregarded France’s unification motive since it would hinder their hunger for achievement to avoid humiliation. As China attempted to criticize the United States’ objective of war expansion, China communists criticized the Soviet Union’s organization for promoting true communism (Eyerman et al., 2017). The inter-organizational disputes contributed to power decentralization in global political frameworks. Consequently, as the war continued, disputes between Moscow and Beijing elevated, creating Vietnam leadership at critical points since those supporting and assisting through the war were experiencing “Marxist-socialism” leadership conflicts.
Nevertheless, Russia and China attempted to strengthen their efforts in the war against the United States to avoid humiliation after the Cuban missile crisis. Still, they failed due to the increased Sino-Soviet dispute. China did not directly disagree with the United States about the Cuban missile crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union, allowing them to create a pact between the countries while still assisting communist Vietnam to win the war in Hanoi. The Americans were against their Government’s effort to continue sending resources and soldiers in a futile battle. The soldiers went back to the United States (Duffy, 2022). Thus, the Vietnam War diminished the bipolar power structure, improving relations between foreign countries.
The Vietnam War, to date, remains one of the most recognized warfare in world history. The war brought about calamities in various sectors of the world in the pursuit of enhancing communism and anti-communism ideologies. Vietnam had to send young and energetic people to war, leaving them behind dependent, and after the war, it wasn’t easy to restore political, economic, social, and cultural normalcy. The major countries involved in the war or countries who chose sides between the distinct ideologies experienced significant disinterest in each other’s affairs. However, countries such as France managed to attempt and assist restore international relations. Since then, international discussions concerning policies and war have involved the “consequences of the Vietnam war.” Despite the indisputable dark past and generational trauma, the country is on the verge of detesting itself and demonstrating constructive progress.
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- Appau, S., Awaworyi Churchill, S., Smyth, R., & Trinh, T.-A. (2021). The long-term impact of the Vietnam war on agricultural productivity. World Development, 146, 105–613. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105613
- Awaworyi Churchill, S., Munyanyi, M. E., Smyth, R., & Trinh, T.-A. (2020). Early life shocks and entrepreneurship: Evidence from the Vietnam war. Journal of Business Research, 506–518. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbusres.2020.11.009
- Duffy, M. (2022, April 19). Changing international perceptions of Vietnam and its dark heritage. E-International Relations. https://www.e-ir.info/2022/04/19/changing-international-perceptions-of-vietnam-and-its-dark-heritage/
- Eyerman, R., Madigan, T., & Ring, M. (2017). Cultural trauma, collective memory and the Vietnam War. Politička misao: časopis za politologiju, 54(1-2), 11-31.
- Forrest, W., Edwards, B., & Daraganova, G. (2018). The intergenerational consequences of war: Anxiety, depression, suicidality, and mental health among the children of war veterans. International Journal of Epidemiology, 47(4), 1060–1067. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyy040
- Gruszczyk, A. (2018). War painted: The changing social image of the Vietnam War veterans in American Culture [Unpublished doctoral dissertation]. Massey University Te Kunenga ki Pūrehuroa.