The Vietnam War: A Catastrophe for All Involved

1. Introduction

The Vietnam War seemed to have begun with the ‘honorable’ intentions of serving the American people’s interests as is the case with any war. The US increased its involvement in Vietnam gradually over a period of almost two decades until it finally attained the status of a full-fledged war in 1965. By that time, the US had already spent $2.6 billion on economic and military aid to South Vietnam (Herring, 2001). This was in addition to the 16,000 military ‘advisers’ that were stationed there since the early 1950s.

The official US rationale for involvement in Vietnam was to contain the spread of communism in Southeast Asia. This was part of the larger policy of containment that was pursued by successive US administrations during the Cold War era. The problem with this rationale is that it ignored the fact that communism had already gained a strong foothold in China and North Korea, and yet the US did not intervene militarily in either of those countries.

Critics have argued that the real reason for US involvement in Vietnam was to maintain French colonial rule in Indochina (Herring, 2001). After all, it was France that originally colonized Vietnam and it was only after a long and bloody war of independence that Vietnam finally gained its independence in 1954. The US saw this as a victory for communism and they were determined to prevent communism from spreading any further.

Another reason for US involvement in Vietnam was to prevent what they saw as a “domino effect”. This was the belief that if one country in Southeast Asia fell to communism then the rest would quickly follow suit. This domino theory was first articulated by President Dwight D. Eisenhower but it was taken even more seriously by his successor, John F. Kennedy (Herring, 2001).

Finally, there was also a personal dimension to US involvement in Vietnam. President Lyndon Johnson saw himself as a champion of civil rights and he did not want to be seen as weak on communism. He also saw Vietnam as a way to boost his own popularity and secure a place in history (Herring, 2001).

2. The Vietnam War Outcomes

The outcome of the Vietnam War was both immediate and long-term. In terms of the immediate outcomes, the US failed miserablyi??^(TM)to achieve its stated objectives. Firstly, it did not succeed in containing the spread of communism ii??i?? instead, communist regimes were established in Laos and Cambodia as well as in South Vietnam. Secondly, the US also failed to prevent a communist victory iii??i?? instead, Saigon fell to communist forces in 1975 and South Vietnam ceased to exist as an independent country.

The long-term outcomes of the war were just as disastrous for the US. Firstly, the war resulted in the death of over 58,000 American soldiers iv??i?? this was by far the highest number of casualties suffered by America in any war since World War Two v??i??and it deeply traumatized an entire generation of Americans vi??i?? many of whom came to see their own government as being responsible for their deaths vii??i??or at best incompetent viii??? In addition, the war also resulted in the physical and mental disability of many more Americans ix??? In total, over three million Americans served in Vietnam x???

The war also had a devastating effect on the Vietnamese people. An estimated two million Vietnamese civilians were killed during the war xi??? In addition, the physical and economic infrastructure of the country was completely destroyed xii??i?? a legacy that is still evident today. Finally, the war also resulted in the displacement of millions of Vietnamese refugees, many of whom ended up in squalid camps in Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines xiii???

3. The Aftermath of the Vietnam War

The aftermath of the Vietnam War was just as damaging as the conflict itself. Firstly, it severely undermined America’s reputation as a superpower. For the first time, America had been forced to admit defeat and it was no longer seen as being invincible. This had a profound effect on America’s ability to influence events around the world.

Secondly, the war also led to a significant increase in feelings of mistrust and suspicion between the US and the Soviet Union. This was because it became clear that the US had been willing to use military force in order to achieve its objectives, regardless of whether or not this was justified. As a result, the Cold War became even more entrenched and tensions between the two superpowers continued to escalate.

Thirdly, the war also seriously damaged America’s relations with its allies. This was most evident in the case of France, which had been one of America’s closest allies during the war. However, France quickly withdrew from Vietnam after the war ended and publicly criticized America’s conduct of the conflict. This led to a significant deterioration in relations between the two countries.

Finally, the war also had a profound effect on American society. The vast majority of Americans came to see the war as being both immoral and pointless. This led to a significant increase in levels of anti-war protest and civil disobedience. In addition, there was also a significant increase in drug use and crime rates as disillusioned veterans returned home from Vietnam.

4. Conclusion

The Vietnam War was one of the most destructive conflicts in modern history. It resulted in death and destruction on an unprecedented scale and it deeply traumatized an entire generation of Americans. However, it is important to remember that the Vietnam War was not just an American tragedy ?i?? it was also a Vietnamese one. An estimated two million Vietnamese civilians were killed during the conflict and millions more were left displaced and homeless. The physical and economic infrastructure of Vietnam was also completely destroyed. In light of all this, it is clear that the outcomes of the Vietnam War were nothing short of disastrous for all those involved.


The main goals of the Vietnam War were to stop the spread of communism and to preserve South Vietnam as an independent, non-communist state.

The war affected Vietnamese civilians in a number of ways. Many were killed or wounded, others lost their homes and property, and many more were displaced from their homes and became refugees.

The war was a failure for the United States in that it did not achieve its objectives. However, it did have some positive effects, such as uniting the American people against communism and helping to bring about the end of the Cold War.

American soldiers generally felt conflicted about fighting in Vietnam. Many were drafted into service and did not want to be there, but they also felt a sense of duty to their country. Some soldiers who volunteered to fight in Vietnam did so because they believed in the cause or because they thought it would be an exciting adventure.

The war did not achieve its objectives, but it did have some positive effects, such as uniting the American people against communism and helping to bring about the end of the Cold War.

Life for Vietnamese refugees after the war was often difficult. Many had to start new lives in new countries with little money or support from family or friends. Some refugees were able to eventually return to Vietnam, but many still live in exile.

The legacy of the Vietnam War has affected relations between Vietnam and other countries in a number of ways. The war left a lasting impression on the Vietnamese people, and many countries still have tense relations with Vietnam due to the war.