The world we live in is constantly changing. That bit of realism was noted by the writer when he recently revisited former US Army duty stations at Fort Lee, Virginia and Fort Bragg, North Carolina. The changes that occurred over a fifty year period were noteworthy.
Recently there was a story in The Straits Times (Singapore) titled: When a war turns into a nation that was submitted by Ravi Velloor, and associate editor. It addressed another noteworthy change in Vietnam. Velloor was in Vietnam during the season of Tet and it reminded him of the tumultuous Tet season of 1968 in that country. He pointed out how it unpleasantly protruded into the Vietnam War annals. We were lead to believe the Americans were winning and it would only be a matter of time before the National Liberation Front collapsed and all would be in a seventh heaven of joy, happiness and prosperity in South Vietnam.
The VC and NVA launched attacks on towns and cities across the country as it slept late for the normal holiday truce. It would have been a pyrrhic victory for the aggressors had not Walter Cronkite made the statement “that this was a war the United States would not win.” That gave North Vietnam renewed vigor despite the loss of more than fifty thousand of their fighters in three days to keep up the fight. Their fight led to the Paris Peace Accords in 1973.
Time does change everything. Vietnam has grown to be the fastest growing economic powerhouse in Southeast Asia. Relations with their former foe the superpower America have come full circle. The US is the largest customer for the garments, electronics and shoes that Vietnam makes and is likely to remain so for years. $176 billion goods that Vietnam sent out to the world last year.
Last year, the remaining restrictions on arms transfers to Vietnam from the US were lifted. This will help a crafty Vietnam deal with the challenges posed by its northern neighbor, China.
The times are a ‘changing in Vietnam.