Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Vietnam and the American War
During our visit to Vietnam, I read two books chronicling the history of the Vietnam War. I'll skip most of the history lessons from those books. However, one quote stands out as a good summary of what happened during the war. After the war, General Maxwell Taylor, one of the principal architects of the war from the US side, stated: "We didn't know the enemy, we didn't know our allies, and we didn't know ourselves."
Above is a video taken outside a bunker and next to an airstrip at the Khe Sanh Base.
Here is a video of Beth walking through one portion of the tunnels.
Above is a video of the bus driver in action. This is a small example of the Vietnamese work ethic and resilience. These traits are among the ones referenced by General Taylor when he said that the U.S. went into the war without adequate knowledge of the enemy. The initial architects of the war from the U.S. side had first successfully aided the government of the Philippines in repelling the Communists in their attempt to gain power in the Philippines. The U.S. architects admitted afterwards that they thought the task would be similarly easy in Vietnam. However, as is now apparent in hindsight, there are major differences between the personalities of the two countries. (See my earlier blog entry entitled, "The Philippines and the Curse of Happiness," for a glimpse of this.) Given the Vietnamese work ethic and resilience, it is not surprising that, just over ten years after the U.S. ceased its decade-long fight to stop communism from spreading in Vietnam, Vietnam largely abandoned communism in favor of a capitalist system not much different than what is seen in the U.S. And since instituting that system, Vietnam's economy has consistently been among the fastest growing in the world.