Once it was realised by the American’s that the Vietnam War was a lost cause, they began the long and arduous task of negotiating a peace deal that, above all, would satisfy the American public. These talks began in the January of 1969, and were not concluded, or at least did not take effect until, the 28th of January 1973.
The cease fire should have begun much earlier, in October 1972, but the current president of America, Richard Nixon, was not entirely happy with the proposed deal (which had been agreed in Paris by representatives from the U. S. , North Vietnam, South Vietnam and the NLF)which stated that in order for the war to come to an end there would have to be a complete U. S. withdrawal, which would in turn be rewarded with a cease fire and release of all U. S. war hostages, who were currently being kept in Hanoi. The deal also included that both of the current South and North Vietnamese governments would remain in charge until new elections could be set up to unify the whole country.
However, there was one part of the deal decided in Paris that Nixon did not agree with, and that was that North Vietnamese troops would be allowed to stay stationed in South Vietnam. Nixon tried to alter this part of the deal by pushing the troops back into North Vietnam, via a particularly radical approach. This approach involved heavy bombing for more than eleven days, adding to the already 6. 2 million tonnes of combs that had already been dropped on Vietnam. In just these eleven days, 100,000 bombs were dropped onto just two cities, Hanoi and Haiphong.
It has been said that it was the most intense air raid in history. Unfortunately for Nixon, he still did not get his own way, as the North Vietnamese refused to back down to his bully boy tactics, and in January Nixon agreed with the deal that had been proposed three months earlier, in October, still no better off than he had been back then. Nixon was not criticised by the American public however, as they were under the impression that Nixon’s rash eleven day bombing stint was what had struck the deal itself, and not that group of representatives who had met three months earlier in Paris.
In March 1973, with the last American combat troops gone, it was time for America to prepare for the effects of the Vietnam War truly hitting home. To the public, it meant no more deaths, their brothers, sons, fathers, uncles and friends were finally returning home but there was the downside too. Almost 57,000 American troops were dead, their parents, family and friends all had to cope with that. 153,000 were injured, maimed either by the devastating booby traps laid by the Vietcong, or the effects of the chemical agents used during the war such as Napalm.
These injured men could no longer support their families, and every man who returned from Vietnam had to deal with the guilt and humiliation of the war. They had lost a war that, at the start, had been impossible to lose. Okay, they didn’t quite lose, but they didn’t win, and to them, there was no second place in the war, if you hadn’t won, you had lost. Incidents like the My Lai massacre, were hundreds of innocent peasants had been brutally killed by American troops, were attempted to be covered up by the military, but it was uncovered by journalists, who encouraged the soldiers to recount their experiences to the public.
There was also the drug use, the soldiers in Vietnam had needed to take something to help them cope, heroin and other drugs were the answer for them. Its use was continued when these soldiers returned home, because they brought the nightmares of what they had done, what they had seen in Vietnam, back with them. Heroin was expensive, and these veterans were unable to find the money to supply their own demands, and so turned to crime. But these were just the short time problems, there was the long term to consider.
America had spent billions financing South Vietnam during the war, taxes were increased to pay for it, inflation went up and money was made virtually worthless. The soldiers who returned, half a million of them in fact, suffered mental problems as a result of either what they themselves had committed, or what they had seen their own friends do. Many could not cope with normal society, nor trust anyone. Many spent the rest of their days living isolated in forests or mountains, far away from any human contact. Vietnam began to experience the causes of the war.
Almost a million of their people were dead, 2 billion were injured. These injured were forced to live in poverty, along with the rest of those left homeless due to the excessive American bombing during the war. There were hundreds of thousands of orphans, whose parents were dead or missing, and some 15,000 children were half-Vietnamese, half-American, fathered by American soldiers who had more than likely raped (VD spread throughout many American troops, as well as Vietnamese men and women, because of this) these children’s mothers.
These children were unwanted, due to their parentage and many were orphans also. Soon Vietnam was at war with Cambodia, shortly after, they began with China in what became known as the ‘IndoChina war’ which created 1 million refugees, which added to the already many refugees caused by the war with the Americans and many of these refugee’s, more than a million, who wanted to get away from war torn Vietnam, attempted to escape Vietnam via boats, and became known as the ‘Boat people’.
It is estimated that 50,000 of these boat people were drowned, murdered, raped and robbed by pirates around the coast as they tried to escape to Malaysia, Honk Kong, China and Thailand. A million of these escaped to America in the end, ready to start new lives. South Vietnam fell to the communists after America withdrew their funding and their troops. Nixon encouraged the south to try and rely on themselves, rather than the Americans, but he resigned after the Watergate scandal, shortly after he had promised Thieu, the South Vietnamese President that he would help them out against the NLF’s many attacks.
The man who took Nixon’s place, however, chose not to fulfil Nixon’s promise, or rather could not as the senate refused, unsurprisingly, to back him. Thieu fled Vietnam, in the end and that really did signify that the war was over for many. Conclusion For those who had lost their loved ones during the Vietnam war, still, no doubt, bear the emotional scars today. Soldiers, taunted by their deeds, and what they saw still can’t cope with normal society today, living in isolation, and using drugs to cope with the pain, both emotional and physical.
Their families, broken by the war, will still remember. The physical scars of the war many will still share. Even those who never lived a day through the war, are effected by it. Children were born and are still being born deformed, or with cancer, both American and Vietnamese because of the lasting affects of Agent Orange and Napalm. These agents, Agent Orange in particular damaged the countryside of Vietnam, the farmland was rendered useless and could not grow anything, wildlife was killed.
This left the Vietnamese hungry, and in poverty for a long time to come. The use of those chemicals still last today, the Vietnam countryside scarred, and bare. The water supply is infected and much of the land is still unable to bare a harvest. These are the consequences of a war that ended more than 25 years ago, and although no good came of the war, hopefully it will prove a deterrent and that no other event like it shall ever happen again.