Wednesday, July 7, 2010
End of Vietnam War
Fashioned from stark slabs of black granite, the Vietnam veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, perfectly represents America's collective memory of its longest war and first defeat. The memorial, like the memory, is both somber and ambiguous.
On the polished face of the memorial appear the names of 58,000 US military personnel who died in Indochina. This was the greatest cost of the war to the US. There were others as well; the bitterness of over 3 million Vietnam Veterans who return to more scorn than gratitude from their fellow citizens; the inflations that followed years of deficit financing to help cover more than $1.50 billion in war expenses; bruising divisions within American society about responsibility for the nation's defeat and the devastation of the peoples and the lands of the Indochina ; and a public cynicism about govt. reinforced by the Watergate scandal, that was to mark US politics for many years.
American involvement in the conflicts of Indochina was driven by a doctrinal commitment to the containment of communism.The goal was absolute, but it was pursued through incremental compromise measures. from Harry Truman to Richard Nixon, no president could find a formula for victory at a cost in lives and resources he thought the public would endure or US interests would justify.
Thus from 1950 to 1975 the military and political tide ran first against the french and then against the non-communist govt.s in Vietnam, Cambodia ,and Laos, American actions were sufficient only to postpone defeat.