September 24, 2017

How the United States and Vietnam have become unlikely friends?

United States

The South Vietnamese were demoralized after the U.S. withdrawal of combat forces in 1973 and the cessation of military support. The North Vietnamese, who had been fighting for nearly 20 years to see their homeland united under communism, seized the opportunity, launching a massive offensive.
Saigon, the South Vietnamese capital, fell, forcing the U.S. to stage a massive helicopter evacuation — generating one of the best known images of the war.
The city was renamed Ho Chi Minh City, after the revolutionary leader, and the country was united and renamed the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (SRV).
The following years were fraught with ideological battles, famine and hostilities with China.
But fast-forward to today, and Vietnam has become what some commentators have called the Germany of Southeast Asia, its dedicated workforce and export-based economy have created an economic boom.
And there is a friendship forming with its old enemy.
Unthinkable scenes
On Sunday, President Obama will begin an official visit to Vietnam before continuing on to Japan.
His visit comes nearly a year after Vietnamese leader, General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong, was welcomed to the White House.
Such scenes would have been unthinkable in the post-war years. Vietnam had banned citizens from leaving and began efforts to unify the country under a communist ideology.
“Bureaucrats, teachers, and civil servants from the defeated Republic of Vietnam underwent quick courses in re-education,” says Christopher Goscha, author of the upcoming book, “A Modern History of Vietnam.”
“However, those who were in the government, security services, and army found themselves doing time in re-education camps. Hundreds perhaps thousands spent years in detention.”
Panicked by these developments, southerners crammed themselves into boats and fled: more than 755,000, according to the UNHCR.
The exodus continued as food shortages began to bite.
The Mekong Delta, in southern Vietnam, was home to the best rice fields. But the farmers there were resentful of the new regime and resisted attempts to increase yields.
Even if the southern farmers were amenable, the country’s economic five-year plan was wildly ambitious, expecting to grow national income by 14%.
The plan failed. And by 1979 the government had to ration food. Citizens received a mere two kilograms of rice and 200 grams of meat per month.
War with China
Long-running tensions with giant neighbor China erupted following Vietnam’s toppling of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia in 1978/9. Deng Xiaoping vowed to “teach Vietnam a lesson.”
Within a month the war was over and, according to the Chinese, the lesson taught.
But the Vietnamese also claimed victory, saying they had beaten back their giant northern neighbor. Either way, the conflict helped to sour relations between China and the USSR, which was an ally of Vietnam.
Even though the USSR didn’t come to Vietnam’s aid in the war, they continued to be the prime funder of the SRV and even created a joint space program.
In 1980, Pham Tuan, a lieutenant colonel in the Vietnam People’s Airforce, joined the Soviet Intercosmos program and became the first Asian in space.
As Tuan orbited the Earth, Vietnam’s economy began to turn.
The Doi Moi reform program of the mid-1980s abolished the state-planned economy in favor of a “socialist-orientated market economy,” similar to China. A new five-year plan called for a 70% increase in exports.
In June 1963, photographer Malcolm Browne showed the world a shocking display of protest. A Buddhist monk named Thich Quang Duc burned himself to death on a street in Saigon to protest alleged persecution of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government. The image won Browne the World Press Photo of the Year.

Tim Page photographed a U.S. helicopter taking off from a clearing near Du Co SF camp in Vietnam in 1965. Wounded soldiers crouch in the dust of the departing helicopter. The military convoy was on its way to relieve the camp when it was ambushed.
16 photos: Iconic photos of the Vietnam War
Tim Page photographed a U.S. helicopter taking off from a clearing near Du Co SF camp in Vietnam in 1965. Wounded soldiers crouch in the dust of the departing helicopter. The military convoy was on its way to relieve the camp when it was ambushed.

Frenchman Marc Riboud captured one of the most well-known anti-war images in 1967. Jan Rose Kasmir confronts National Guard troops outside the Pentagon during a protest march. The photo helped turn public opinion against the war. "She was just talking, trying to catch the eye of the soldiers, maybe try to have a dialogue with them," <a href="http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/flower-child-102514360/" target="_blank">recalled Riboud in the April 2004 Smithsonian magazine,</a> "I had the feeling the soldiers were more afraid of her than she was of the bayonets."
16 photos: Iconic photos of the Vietnam War
Frenchman Marc Riboud captured one of the most well-known anti-war images in 1967. Jan Rose Kasmir confronts National Guard troops outside the Pentagon during a protest march. The photo helped turn public opinion against the war. “She was just talking, trying to catch the eye of the soldiers, maybe try to have a dialogue with them,” recalled Riboud in the April 2004 Smithsonian magazine, “I had the feeling the soldiers were more afraid of her than she was of the bayonets.”

In this 1965 Henri Huet photograph, Chaplain John McNamara administers last rites to photographer Dickey Chapelle in South Vietnam. Chapelle was covering a U.S. Marine unit near Chu Lai for the National Observer when a mine seriously wounded her and four Marines. Chappelle died en route to a hospital, the first American woman correspondent ever killed in action.
16 photos: Iconic photos of the Vietnam War
In this 1965 Henri Huet photograph, Chaplain John McNamara administers last rites to photographer Dickey Chapelle in South Vietnam. Chapelle was covering a U.S. Marine unit near Chu Lai for the National Observer when a mine seriously wounded her and four Marines. Chappelle died en route to a hospital, the first American woman correspondent ever killed in action.

Mary Ann Vecchio screams as she kneels over Jeffrey Miller's body during the deadly anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970. Student photographer John Filo captured the Pulitzer Prize-winning image after Ohio National Guardsmen fired into a crowd of protesters, killing four students and wounding nine others. An editor manipulated a version of the image to remove the fence post above Vecchio's head, sparking controversy.
16 photos: Iconic photos of the Vietnam War
Mary Ann Vecchio screams as she kneels over Jeffrey Miller’s body during the deadly anti-war demonstration at Kent State University in 1970. Student photographer John Filo captured the Pulitzer Prize-winning image after Ohio National Guardsmen fired into a crowd of protesters, killing four students and wounding nine others. An editor manipulated a version of the image to remove the fence post above Vecchio’s head, sparking controversy.

For his dramatic photographs of the Vietnam War, United Press International staff photographer David Hume Kennerly won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. This 1971 photo from Kennerly's award-winning portfolio shows an American GI, his weapon drawn, cautiously moving over a devastated hill near Firebase
For his dramatic photographs of the Vietnam War, United Press International staff photographer David Hume Kennerly won the 1972 Pulitzer Prize for feature photography. This 1971 photo from Kennerly’s award-winning portfolio shows an American GI, his weapon drawn, cautiously moving over a devastated hill near Firebase
Hubert Van Es, a Dutch photojournalist working at the offices of United Press International, took this photo on April 29, 1975, of a CIA employee helping evacuees onto an Air America helicopter. It became one of the best known images of the U.S. evacuation of Saigon. Van Es never received royalties for the UPI-owned photo. The rights are owned by Bill Gates through his company, Corbis.
16 photos: Iconic photos of the Vietnam War
Hubert Van Es, a Dutch photojournalist working at the offices of United Press International, took this photo on April 29, 1975, of a CIA employee helping evacuees onto an Air America helicopter. It became one of the best known images of the U.S. evacuation of Saigon. Van Es never received royalties for the UPI-owned photo. The rights are owned by Bill Gates through his company, Corbis.

Associated Press photographer Art Greenspon captured this photo of soldiers aiding wounded comrades. The first sergeant of A Company, 101st Airborne Division, guided a medevac helicopter through the jungle to retrieve casualties near Hue in April 1968.
16 photos: Iconic photos of the Vietnam War
Associated Press photographer Art Greenspon captured this photo of soldiers aiding wounded comrades. The first sergeant of A Company, 101st Airborne Division, guided a medevac helicopter through the jungle to retrieve casualties near Hue in April 1968.

1960s photojournalists showed the world some of the most dramatic moments of the Vietnam War through their camera lenses. LIFE magazine's Larry Burrows photographed wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie, center, reaching toward a stricken soldier after a firefight south of the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam in 1966. Commonly known as <a href="http://life.time.com/history/vietnam-war-the-story-behind-larry-burrows-Burrows shows us tenderness and terror all in one frame. According to LIFE, the magazine did not publish the picture until five years later to commemorate Burrows, who was killed with AP photographer Henri Huet and three other photographers in Laos.

1960s photojournalists showed the world some of the most dramatic moments of the Vietnam War through their camera lenses. LIFE magazine’s Larry Burrows photographed wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie, center, reaching toward a stricken soldier after a firefight south of the Demilitarized Zone in Vietnam in 1966. Commonly known as Reaching Out, Burrows shows us tenderness and terror all in one frame. According to LIFE, the magazine did not publish the picture until five years later to commemorate Burrows, who was killed with AP photographer Henri Huet and three other photographers in Laos.

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