humanodon:

One thing that I think could have been explored was that this is not unique to U.S. vets, but also to Australian and NZ vets. Also, it's not so cut and dry as the article makes it seem. For example, it doesn't talk about what happened to the South Vietnamese soldiers after the war, or how they're relegated to driving cyclos or xe om as their citizenship was stripped and so they cannot lawfully hold jobs. Another example are the war babies, the half-Viet, half-American or half-Australian subclass of people who are generally looked down upon. The other subclass of course, are the overseas Vietnamese (Việt Kiều), or those who were able to flee Vietnam to the refugee camps in the Philippines before heading to the U.S. I think that the overseas Vietnamese are worth mentioning, because a lot of the foreign investment in certain industries is driven by them.

It also does not talk about how the Vietnam War (American War) was one war toward the end of a series of wars that were continuously fought, beginning with the Vietnamese against the French in the earlier part of the century and finally ending with the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia to topple the Khmer Rouge. It would have been interesting to get more perspective on why the Viet government downplays that string of wars within the country and has actively encouraged an oversimplified view of that period within the educational system, while making military training courses in school mandatory. In fact, this desire to control a certain view of those wars and the American war is so great that when I lived there, any time that a program related to Vietnam was scheduled, that TV station would cut out for the duration of the program, nation wide.

What I think this article gets wrong, is that the Vietnamese have simply forgiven the veterans. I also think that it presents the people in an oversimplified way. There are still a lot of tensions between North and South and the Central highlands, as well as the Mekong region, not to mention the many ethnic minorities (including the Khmer). From what I have seen, the government in power has done a great job of making sure that the details of the American War are all but forgotten.

It will be interesting to see what happens to the country as the new subclass of half-Vietnamese emerge. They are much more accepted into society than the half-Vietnamese children of the war years, but they are also marked as being somewhat different than "real" Vietnamese and they are often afforded better opportunities to study at international schools and eventually universities abroad, two things which Vietnamese parents have become very interested in. The war that really seems on the minds of many Vietnamese is the potential war that could erupt between Vietnam and China, with which Vietnam has had a strained relationship with for most of their history.


posted by user-inactivated: 1899 days ago