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jasper1890's avatar

Why is the Vietnam war not considered one of the world's greatest disasters when all America did was kill millions, destroy a culture and then leave the country?

Asked by jasper1890 (193points) April 5th, 2011

I deliberately worded the question this way to spark better answers….
I studied Vietnam in detail would be very interested to know other views on this.

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33 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

We didn’t destroy a culture. We didn’t understand the culture that was there, and we lost. We tend to hide the facts when we lose.

CaptainHarley's avatar

The original stated mission was to halt or slow the advance of communism in Southeast Asia. By almost any yardstick, this was accomplished, although at a very high price.

jasper1890's avatar

Southern culture was americanised vastly. I would consider this destroyed

CaptainHarley's avatar

“Southern culture” was destroyed in Vietnam when the mass exodus of Northern Vietnamese fleeing communism moved into the South.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@jasper1890 Welcome to fluther. We tried to impose our asshole american ways on a very old culture, and while some of it took, it was for other reasons.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Vietnam was lost when gutless American politicians refused to pursue the war into North Vietnamese sanctuaries, in the process getting a number of great soldiers killed, and turning the “Baby Boomers” into a generation of spoiled crybabies.

ddude1116's avatar

Vietnam went to shit after Kennedy was assassinated, he didn’t support the war, and used Green Berets instead of draftees. The disaster is that.

Mikewlf337's avatar

Veitman war was a war against communism. American did not destroy a culture. Communism destroys cultures.

jasper1890's avatar

In response to the last comment, Communism is the perfect platform for POOR nations to build on. I fully agree America needed to put an end to it but piece by piece carefully. But America does not think this way! they barely even held talk’s with ho chi before they set foot in the country.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Ho was an ally of the US during WWII and welcomed the US into the country during the war.

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Ummmm, off-topic, but please be careful what you say about war and insinuating that the soldiers involved were nothing but killers. There are war vets on this site, and they deserve our respect. Thanks.

Mikewlf337's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe History has proven that todays allies could very well be tomarrows enemies.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Welcome to Fluther, @jasper1890 . Just for a bit of perspective, are you from the US or somewhere else? If the latter, would you be willing to tell us where?

jasper1890's avatar

Im from England.

I fully agree ‘willworkforchocolate’. I worded the question for discussion purposes and have the upmost respect especially with the fact that many soldiers were forced into conflict.

CaptainHarley's avatar

I sometimes have real trouble dealing with this. We wasted thousands of lives in the process of conducting this war, and I remain unconvinced that we had no other options. Under the restrictive ROE ( Rules of Engagement ) we were not allowed to pursue the Vietcong or the North Vietnamese Army into Cambodia, Laos, or North Vietnam. It was like fighting with one arm tied behind your back.

I perodically visit the Wall to pay respect to those I know who are on it. I always weep.

marinelife's avatar

Where do you get that we “killed millions”?

“According to the government in Hanoi, 1,100,000 North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong military personnel died in the Vietnam War[4] Rummel reviewed the many casualty data sets, and this number is in keeping with his mid-level estimate of 1,011,000 North Vietnamese combatant deaths.[1]” Tens of thousands of those died per year of accidental causes.

Those figures include the two years that the war raged on after the US and allies pulled out.


WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

@jasper1890 Actually, you worded the question to deliberately provoke anger and resentment, not “discussion”.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I am always interested in the take other countries have on the “mistakes” that the United States has made in her history, especially when handed the package that history provides. Shall we talk about India as well? (Just from from the Yanks’ perspective of the Raj, of course.)

CaptainHarley's avatar


It’s always easier to take potshots at the guy on top since he makes such a visible target.

wundayatta's avatar

Politics. Image building. Marketing.

You can tell any story you want about a set of events. The story that gets there first and is heard most often is usually the story that “wins.” I.e., the story that becomes ingrained in the culture forever more.

Ok, for 100 years, until the academics finally get to revisit it and people are willing to accept their revisions because it was their great grandparents who actually did the fighting, and who cares now? Honor has nothing to do with that war, 100 years ago, now.

CaptainHarley's avatar


What war? 100 years ago? S’plain, Lucy!

wundayatta's avatar

First World War. Give or take a few years. We should start seeing revisionist history soon, if we haven’t already.

flutherother's avatar

Fear makes us do crazy things and fear of Communism made us do terrible things to Vietnam not forgetting Cambodia and Laos where the effects of cluster bombs and Agent orange are still being experienced today.

Zaku's avatar

Answer to main question: It is considered one of history’s greater disasters, by many people.

@marinelife That’s one million military casualties. Civilian casualties are in addition to that, and estimates vary but many estimates (including Hanoi and Britannica) are also in the seven digits, so “millions” seems reasonable to say.

A quote from the French Press Agency from 1995 here reads, “The Hanoi government revealed on April 4 that the true civilian casualties of the Vietnam War were 2,000,000 in the north, and 2,000,000 in the south. Military casualties were 1.1 million killed and 600,000 wounded in 21 years of war. These figures were deliberately falsified during the war by the North Vietnamese Communists to avoid demoralizing the population. ”

Meanwhile, this source lists details of many different sources, and the collator estimates 3.5 million total for the Vietnam war, also pointing out it started as a French colonial conflict.

Jaxk's avatar

The question is obviously skewed which makes a reasonable answer difficult. We went in to support the Vietnamese government from communist insurgency. The problem was we never intended to win but rather merely hold the line. N.Vietnam was always the aggressor and we tend to forget that.

When Nixon began bombing N. Vietnam we were able to secure a cease fire that lasted about two years. Or until the North decided we weren’t coming back so they could resume the march into the South. Which they did ending with our much publicized withdrawal from our embassy. It was a war lost by the politicians not the soldiers. We paid dearly for those political decisions.

CaptainHarley's avatar


TELL me about Agent Orange! : (

CaptainHarley's avatar


About what I INTENDED to say, but you said it far better. : )

jerv's avatar


You seem to assume that Vietnam is the only culture we’ve destroyed and the only place we’ve killed vast numbers of people. It may be the worst thing we did in the second half of the 20th century, but I think that between the Civil War, what we did to the Native Americans, and a few other things in our past, Vietnam would have a hard time staying in the top five.

mattbrowne's avatar

I’d say it’s in the top 20 list. A late effect of McCarthyism.

jasper1890's avatar

I did not ‘deliberately worded the question to provoke anger’ i can assure you.

People who thought this was the case are the reason the conversation scewed

Dutchess_III's avatar

Wait wait. Vietnam was not a war. It was a “police action.” See.

Strauss's avatar

@Dutchess_III I saw, and what I saw were all the horrors of war. I could tell you stories from the hospital that looked, smelled and tasted just like war. If it walks like a duck…

Dutchess_III's avatar

I know it was a war. I’m just saying that legally it was “only” a “police action.”

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