a memorial for all wars: the Polynational War Memorial

Vietnam Celebrates 30 Years since the end of the War with the US

By: Jon Brunberg | posted: 4/30/2005 1:00:00 AM


Celebration ceremonies were taking place all over Vietnam today as the country remembers the end of the war with the US thirty years ago. The Vietnam War was one of the bloodiest wars of our age reports Jonathan Watts for the Guardian on Saturday April 30, 2005: "At the peak of US involvement in 1969, there were half a million American troops in Vietnam. By the war's end, 58,183 had died - double the body count in the Korean war - at a cost of $165bn. Vietnamese losses were far greater - more than 1.3 million fallen soldiers, most of them communists, and 4 million civilians killed or wounded. /.../ Today, the 30th anniversary celebrations for 'liberation day' are in keeping with a country that is belatedly starting to enjoy the fruits of peace. In Ho Chi Minh City - the postwar name for Saigon - the country's first laser show will light up a huge stage erected for today's festivities. The gates in front of the presidential palace - renamed Reunification Hall - have been thrown open to a parade of gaudily decorated floats. Streets once filled with sandbags and barbed wire are lined with red banners and the gold stars of the Communist party."

As some analysts report, the Vietnamese Government is not too keen to exaggerate the expressions of triumph over the US during the ceremonies since it is one of Vietnams most important trade partners today. Nevertheless Vietnam is in quite a extraordinary position as the only country that managed to defeat the world's most powerful war-machine in the post WWII era, and also managed to survive subsequent wars with Cambodia and China, a fact that will for the unforeseeable future be noted by any political analyst as soon as the US administration prepare itself for another war.

The victory will also be an important part of the history of the south east Asian region, even though young Vietnamese might want to forget all about the war and go on with their lives and even though the traumas of the people that lost everything in the battles might not find it useful to emphasize the heroic side of the war.

The importance lies perhaps in the power-shift that was the result of the defeat of the US army, which forced it to abstain from overt military interventions for a very long time, and instead fighting its battles trough intermediaries. Vietnam gained perhaps very little in terms of economic prosperity and global political power as a result of the war but the US definitely lost ground in its power-struggle with the communist bloc.

Today the G.W. Bush regime in the White House has obviously found that the time is right to bring its forces out into the open again. In a sense you can wonder whether the unilateral decision to go to war in Iraq was a test of the ability of the US to break the imprecation of the failure in its Southeast Asian wars in Korea and Vietnam and the popular resistance on the home front against the war in Vietnam.

The war in Iraq may have awoken an unprecedented popular resistance in the west and Iraq may have been thrown into chaos but I wouldn't be surprised if the Bush administration despite all of this finds that they have managed to regain some of the ground that the US lost in Vietnam. What the consequences are for the region is still unknown, but my guess is that it is going to depend on the results of the evaluation of the "test" venture in Iraq.


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