The Vietnam War is among the worst wars of the cold war period. The war began in November 1955 to April 1975 and over the 20-year period, millions of lives were lost and inhuman acts committed to civilians by the American and French forces who had dominated the war. The war saw a huge division between North Vietnam, which was supported by communist countries like China, North Korea and the Soviet Union and South Vietnam, which was supported by France, Australia, South Korea, Thailand and the US, who anti-communist. Although the warfare was initially held by the French, the US had taken over and deployed many of its forces in the war-torn region. When the French had lost the will to fight, America went on to persuade them and after it failed, it planted its own dictator who committed inhuman acts against the Vietnamese using the army, supported by the US forces. A detailed analysis of the Vietnam War unravels the Injustices committed in the Vietnam War, with a major focus on the American government because what they did to Vietnam was severely injustice.
Of the many crimes and atrocities that were committed by the US government in Southeast Asia in the course of the Vietnam War, the use of Agent Orange was the worst. Agent Orange created the most destructive legacy in the region, resulting from death and injury to the health of millions of Vietnamese. The suffering is still going to date and it affects both the US Vietnam War veterans and the Vietnamese citizens. Agent Orange was developed as a pesticide but was used to kill all vegetation and make the land unproductive with the aim of making the Vietnamese fighters run shot of food, starve and surrender (Turse 8). The effects were far much worse than what was initially thought.
America’s involvement in the Vietnam War can never be justified and the inhuman acts against innocent civilians make their involvement a great and severe injustice. The US supported the Saigon government and wanted to prevent the communist North Vietnam from advancing its influence to the South. Additionally, fueled by the cold war, America wanted to demonstrate its prowess in economic and military influence, which escalated to further damage in relationships between the communists and the anti-communists. The National Front for the Liberation for South Vietnam (NLF) was trying to stage an insurgency to topple the American supported government that was led by President Saigon (Luther 1). The peak and sharp start of the war started when a US marine ship was attacked and the US claimed that the attack was done by the communist North Vietnam. The US president ordered retaliatory attacks, which then sparked a war that to date lives among the Vietnamese citizens.
The bombing of the Hanoi, Haiphong and other major cities was an act of injustice. With over two million people fleeing their country to search for peaceful settlements, the US army fell on innocent civilians, some who were blind, lame and harmless and killed them. According to a report on the bombing of the major cities by the US, children were shot at as the army commandant had issued an order to kill anything that was moving. Despite the US championing for democracy at home and protection of their citizens, the same was never replicated during the Vietnam War (Luther 1). The US government was ready to do anything to support the Saigon government to pursue its capitalist interests. Therefore, anyone that posed as a threat, whether in the South or the North was eliminated. The injustice was further propagated by the perception of the US government in the need to improve the Saigon-led government.
Upon realizing the supporting the Saigon government and his leadership was not going to work nor meeting the interests of the US, the administration decided to change course to retain control of Vietnam. Saigon’s leadership and control of the army were hampered by the insurgency from Hanoi, which was the perceived locus of the insurgency. The air power staged by the US saw the death of millions of Vietnamese nationals (Nelson 5). All along during the War, the US justified its means back at home that what it was doing meant well and was for the good of everybody. In the real sense, the US was hurting not only the Vietnamese in the North and South but also other Southeast Asia countries that had started realizing economic potential and were becoming huge trade partners with the two countries. The reunification motion in 1956 had also seen an improved economic environment.
The issue of land reform had also popped up during the Vietnam War and since America was involved in the war, it was expected to have a positive significant contribution. However, because the US had planted one of their own in the dictatorship of the country, it stood aside as it watched several Vietnamese citizens almost get recolonized and their land taken. The remaining land was afterwards sprayed with Agent Orange, making the land unproductive. The Geneva Agreements almost saw the local Vietnamese people get justice but the US was there again and was even more determined that Ho was never going to unify a nation that had become temporarily divided. The poor peasants watched as the US supported one of its dictators, Premier Diem, who was hand-selected by the US to lead to torn country (Nelson 6). With the support of the US army, Diem rooted out any form of opposition and sparked a guerilla warfare, which was also supported by the huge presence of the US military troops.
Although Diem was later overthrown by the unity of the Vietnamese people and the constant protests for reforms, the US may have been happy as the dictator was getting out of hand. However, the acts by Diem are a full responsibility of the US government. The crude methods that Diem had aroused were now threatening any form of business supported by the US government. Additionally, the US had moved in on the claim that they were protecting the interests of their business people who were bringing in capitalism to a country that was of communist nature. After Diem, there followed a long line of other dictatorships and this did not make the Vietnam War situation any easy to the Vietnamese nationals (Rohn 1). The US was not ready to offer any real change especially in bringing peace to the torn region and giving the Vietnamese people their land back. Instead, the US was more interested in its business front and protecting what the Vietnam-based American business community wanted.
The US poisoned the Vietnamese sea and fresh waters, without any consideration of the humanity aspect especially among children and women, who had nothing to do with the war. American helicopters and bulldozers were used to destroy land. For every single injury that a US military officer sustained from a Vietcong officer, the US retaliated with more than twenty deaths at once, involving the family of the Vietcong soldier. The US kept printing leaflets and spreading them among the Vietnamese people, giving them hope that it was in course, pursuing justice and peace with promises of democracy while in the actual sense it was doing the exact opposite (Luther 1). The US created enmity amongst the Vietnamese themselves with the concentration camps being the greatest source of diseases, rape and other inhuman acts. Yet in the same measure, the US has often argued that it has reconciled with Vietnam after the Vietnam War without taking in the amounts of injustice it committed against the Vietnamese. Cases have been launched seeking compensation by the US government as a treat of justice but the US has remained firm in its stand, indicating how unjust it can be to innocent civilians.
In conclusion, a detailed analysis of the Vietnam War unravels the Injustices committed in the Vietnam War, with a major focus on the American government because what they did to Vietnam was severely injustice. Although the US government moved into Vietnam in the name of protecting US business citizens, it was pursuing its own capitalist interests amidst the cold war. The amount of injustice committed by the US is still felt to date with the US failing to take any responsible action in ensuring that the Vietnamese people injured by the Vietnam War get justice.
- Luther, Martin. “A Time to Break Silence.” 15 March 2011. Deanza. Web. 8 December 2017.
- Nelson, Deborah. “Civilian Killings Went Unpunished.” Vietnam: The War Crimes Files (2016): 1-12. Print.
- Rohn, Alan. “What happened after the Vietnam war?” 26 April 2016. The Vietnam War. Web. 8 December 2017.
- Turse, Nick. “Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam.” New Perspectives on Vietnam (2014): 1-2. Print.