Hoping For The Future Of Vietnam

Vietnam has often had to take the sidecar (or backseat or completely outside and on foot if we’re running with the ‘vehicle metaphor’) when it comes to international politics. That certainly wasn’t the case in the 1950’s during the Vietnam War. Humorously enough (if you adopt a very bleak sense of humor) that war is technically considered a ‘conflict’ and not a war by military definition standards. Personally, I think most of the (nearly) seven billion people on the planet would call say that violent conflict where hundreds of thousands of lives are lost should most definitely be called a war. But that’s just my opinion I suppose.

vietnamese-flag

Here’s a nice photo of the Vietnamese flag, waving quite majestically beneath a beautiful clear sky. I like flags for their ability to inspire nationalism and pride in people, but sadly, many flags are often associated with war, conflict, and imperialism. © Maurice Koop.

It’s a harsh reality of the world we live in that smaller developing nations with weaker economies have often been used in the proxy wars during the Cold War era. Thankfully at least for Vietnam’s sake, though the scars from the war will certainly never be forgotten, the people have proven their fortitude and resilience, persevering and finding happiness in life and celebrating their own culture despite all the atrocities of the past.

vietnamese-dong

Your eyes are not deceiving you. Those are five hundred thousand Vietnamese dong bills. I can’t be certain of their value while inside of Vietnam, but if you take a moment to check out any currency converter, you’ll quickly notice that 500,000 Vietnamese dongs are worth just over $23.00 American dollars… © Jerick Parrone.

As you can see from the photo and caption above, the economy in Vietnam has definitely not been flourishing, and especially not after the war that shook the third world countries only a few short generations ago. One would hope that in the future, the United Nations might be willing to step in and stop lengthy wars before they cause any more unnecessary damage. But more importantly than that, preventing military conflicts in the first place and providing economic and medical relief especially. With the current uneasy international climate around nearby North Korea and China, one would hope that Vietnam would be left out of any possible conflicts, but considering that all three nations are Communist in their political ideology, that possibility is highly unlikely. The preferable outcome of course would be for a lasting peace, regardless of any political or religious ideologies.

kim-jong-un

Here’s a somewhat recent photo of North Korea’s leader (or dictator, depending on who you’re talking to), Kim Jong Un. Hopefully he won’t let his power corrupt him and perform any hasty violent actions that would jeopardize innocent lives. © Marcel Oosterwijk.

A Brief History of Vietnam

vietnam-1

The first time I heard about Vietnam when I encountered the term Viet Cong from a Jackie Chan movie. Upon reading further I got introduced to a country that not only defeated capitalism but emerged victorious in a war against the all powerful USA. Vietnam came under the rule of the Imperial China in the years between 111 BC and 938 AD. After their independence the Vietnamese imperials rose to power and eventually fought against the French colonization in southern Vietnam. The country was then divided into two, namely North and South Vietnam. The Vietnam War began in 1954 when the Viet Cong launched a guerrilla campaign against the southern half. The attacked was backed by the Soviet Union and the Republic of China and a couple of other communist allies.

9722

Despite of the heavy US interference in the war, the Northern Vietnam side emerged victorious and the country was unified under a communist government. The Vietnam War has been referenced in several works of arts like movies, posters, and books and is probably the only thing that most people know about Vietnam. Despite of several economic reforms by the government, Vietnam remains a developing economy with its fair share of problems like economic inequality, healthcare and gender inequality.

url

If I remember correctly, the doctrines of the Vietnamese soldiers were explicitly showcased in the Hollywood movie First Blood Part II which starred Sylvester Stallone. After President Kennedy’s assassination, the US became lesser involved with the war and finally retreated. The war not only changed the fates of Vietnam but also the US. With the growing anti-war sentiments in their own country for majority of the 60’s and the 70’s, US government saw several political reforms that followed through the end of the cold war between the US and the Soviet Union. The fact that the highly trained US marines were outmatched by a group of ill equipped guerrilla soldiers exemplifies the fact that ‘there’s always a bigger fish’.