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How a visit to South East Asia made me reflect on the Vietnam War

vietnam war

Military Vehicles from the war in Hanoi











A couple of years ago I travelled around South East Asia and became very interested in finding out more about the history. I had studied the Vietnam war during school but now I developed a real interest in learning more. It wasn’t just the Vietnam war but also the genocide in Cambodia after visiting there as well.

For me the Vietnam War and that part of history just sums up what happens when the US and other Western countries try to interfere and wage wars in areas they just shouldn’t be involved in. Unfortunately it looks like we haven’t learnt our lesson and similar scenarios have played out in Iraq, Afghanistan and to some extent Libya. All of those wars have cause unnecessary suffering and the deaths of far too many innocent people.

The war in Vietnam has be America’s darkest hour, the list of atrocities is endless and this was the first war with real media coverage and the first time the American public became outraged at what their country was doing. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were killed, many of them women and children. As many 500,000 birth defects in Vietnam have been caused by the use of agent orange. Not only that but Laos became the most bombed country on earth and the sheer amount of unexploded ordinance means it will take decades to clear and people are still being maimed by mines today. Not a nice legacy to leave, it only takes a walk around Cambodia or Laos and you will see a number of children with missing limbs, a truly heart breaking experience.

Speaking of Cambodia, the genocide by the Khmer Rouge also came about as a direct result of America’s war in Vietnam. The Khmer Rouge was backed by the West and under their rule, over 1 million Cambodians perished in just a few years. This included children and even babies, a truly dark time and very shameful that Western nations backed Pol Pot’s leadership.

If you want to learn more about the Vietnam war then one of the best ways is to visit the War Remnants Museum in Saigon where you will find many displays and really understand the events of this period of history.