We returned from a trip to Southeast Asia earlier this month. Vietnam was on the itinerary, and things seem to be going well in Vietnam from an economic point of view. According to The Economist, Vietnam has moved into the ranks of “middle income” countries. There has been quite a change in Vietnam since 1995 when relations with the U.S. were normalized. Given everything that has happened, people may wonder if the Vietnam War really made a difference. The U.S. and Vietnam have reasonably close relations. (We’re pretty much on the same side vis-à-vis China in the South China Sea.) Vietnam’s economy is growing. Maybe it really didn’t matter how the war ended. Especially since the South Vietnamese government back then was a corrupt dictatorship.
But is that true? Consider another way of looking at things. Maybe it’s not so much where South Vietnam was, and what kind of government it had, in 1972 that is the question. Maybe it’s where South Vietnam would be today if it had survived – and succeeded in its fight against the North Vietnamese.