Vietnam War History: War on Terror


There is a lot of support in America and Europe to ensure that the war on terror continues with even more intensity than the Vietnam War. Essentially the al-Qaeda terrorist should be buoyed by the many European’s cowardly efforts to distance themselves from the war and the American’s open attempts to state that the gulf war was a success. In the same way that the North Vietnamese’s esprit de corps were taken away by Protestants against the war, the terrorists all over the planet must be in overwhelming excitement when the media covers anti-war editorials in the west. Former presidents have openly tried to stop invasion of Iraq in the recent past and there are even more efforts to remove the troops from the region. Just in the same way that Vietnam war was lost, war on terror can be lost with devastating outcomes unless everybody against terrorism comes up to support the war. The regimes that support terror are seen to do so by funding their training, intelligence, safety and other operations. In order to stop nations like Iran, Lebanon, Syria and others is a very big problem just as it was to stop Vietnamese from fighting. These terrorists in fact do not count lose in terms of the numbers of troops they lose. They play on morale! They can opt to endure until when the psyche to fight terror goes down for them to strike. This paper analyses how Vietnam and terror war are similar or different with regard to military, Political, Social, Economic and media coverage aspects.

Overview of the Wars

Many of the Americans came to revive their hate for terrorism following the September 11 atrocity. This was a great blow to show that the Americans that regardless of their effort to stay safe, they weren’t safe after all. The war on terror was intensified from that moment but the damage had already been done. The current issues at hand are to make sure that future threats are alleviated and that innocent person all over the world are kept safe. The US got involved in the war in Vietnam mainly for safety purposes. The French were the first group of people from the west to enter Vietnam where they went to spread the word of God through missionaries converting many people from Buddhism to catholic. However, Vietnam had so much wealth that the French decided to make it part of their territory.

French benefited by obtaining a lot of resources including zinc, tin, coal and rubber for their factories. Vietnam also formed a big market for the product from France. Over 57 percent of the Vietnam imports were from France by 1938. The natives got a privileged of being educated in they complied with the French. There were a lot of infrastructures built including roads and railways, hospitals, schools and Hanoi University. Nonetheless, the Vietnamese started questioning the right of another regime to rule them. One of the critics of the French rule was Ho Chi Minh. He could not return home due to his stance hence decided to stay in Chins close to the border with Vietnam. He was able to mobilize other Viet Minh in exile. The French supported the communist Japanese. However the use being supportive of the ‘domino theory’ which stated that if one regime falls to communism, then several others could follow the trend in succession. It came out strongly to oppose invasion of Vietnam by communist nations. Ho Chi Minh made an agreement with Americans where they helped Japanese behind enemy lines and Americans would supply food and weapon to Viet Minh. After enough training and equipping, the republic of Vietnam was declared with Ho as the first head of state.

Ho was not to be a puppet president he asked the US to respect their independence and sovereignty. The US realized that Ho was just another communist leader. France was getting ready to go back to its former colony; however, this was not to be an easy task. The US relations with Ho turned into bad taste and the US switched sides and started supplying French troops in Indochina. The US was determined to do anything to ensure victory in the war. The weight of bombs used was three times more than that used in Second World War. The war was terminated when Saigon was captured by the communists and subsequently General Duong had to resign. American troops were evacuated.

The US foreign policy supports use of military force to contain situations that pose a threat to humanity. These activities include crimes again humanity like conflicts, human trafficking and even drug trafficking. For this reason, the US together with its western allies usually forms the first line of security intervention in case there is war, regional conflict, infringement of human rights and so on. Terrorism has grown to be a very complicated concept since it is now affecting religions, countries, multinationals, and other organizations in the world. Its origin has a variety of theories but has been linked to civilizations, religion and culture. The fight against terror is as old as the history of terrorism. However with increasing use and investment in nuclear plants, the threat could be higher. It’s for this reason that France and the US have been at the forefront to combat the vice. A lot of efforts have been employed including peace treaties and military repatriation. The US invaded Iraq on grounds that it was making nuclear weapons9. This was a step taken after Iraq refused to accept inspection by the UN Security Council.

Comparisons and Contrasts

The war on terror and the Vietnam War are very similar in many aspects and so are the differences many. In essence the US has been involved in all of them just the same way France is a very critical player in the fight against terror as it was actively involved in the colonization of Vietnam. These two were escalated to very great heights due to the fact that by the time they started, the then two superpowers (United States and Russia) were not in agreement and took opposite sides on the issues. The US was completely against communism which on the other hand was strongly held by Russia. Nations of the world then took upon themselves to align with the side they perceived they could benefit. It was evident in Vietnam War as all communist nations supported Ho Minh while those allied to the US fought in support of Bao Dai who was against communist rule. The major driving force behind all this was that any nation falling into communism would do so with a cascade of others following suit. Every resource was put down to stop this from happening.


There are several ways that these two wars are alike. Basically the two wars have seen extensive use of military forces that ended up killing innocent people who are supposed to be protected. There has been opposition from observation as to why there was or there is no peaceful way of dealing with the issues once and for all. This would save a lot of resources that would otherwise have been spent on military including many, including manpower and time.

Both wars attempted to curb the spread of ideologies that are not supported by the US and other western countries. Americans were and as still scared of the communist ideologies and terrorism. The fear could escalate based on question like what would happen if they lost the war. The similarities are presented to show political, economic, and military and role of media aspects. The US is accused of deliberately putting to test very toxic substances in the war on terror and Vietnam War that ended up killing their own soldiers other than causing damage to opponents and innocent civilians.

Both the wars involved invasion of other territories very far away from America and France through this later nation do it as if it was their right to do so. Sovereignty is supposed to exclusively mean that every state is independent and autonomous with its boundaries clearly defined. The members of that polity are able to select their own way of governance. One state or two are not entitled to intervene in the others domestic dealings.

The anti-terrorist attacks in Middle East were so much criticized but the US and its allies including France insisted on hunting for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda men in Iraqi and Pakistani territory even without their assent. Essentially the US and its allies from the west are wholeheartedly committed to eradicating terrorism since they believe it’s an anti-human act that kills innocent people. They have even vowed to go out to the countries where these activities are organized so that they stop the vice from the “roots before it grows”. The fight against international terrorism on the other hand kills innocent people just the same way terror would.

The US has a powerful army and has also very powerful allies that would have helped in combating the vice. Nevertheless, terrorist activities have increased and spread drastically all over the world. Ironically, much of the recent terrorist activities have been instigated by the US military especially those forces that are deployed in foreign nations, like in Middle East which drives terrorism into new activities. When terrorists take new strategies, the US reciprocally deploys more army and these lead to continuation of the vicious cycle.

All these wars saw France and America sacrifice their citizen’s civil rights. Many families who had their relatives sent to the war attest that losing a loved one was very painful. The US and France did not consider pulling back as an option because they feared what could become if they lost the war. This has had a very bad impact on the society. The feelings of safety are to a great extent reduced in the American families and many family members and particularly the children are struggling to recover the sense of safety. War on terrorism has lead to recruitment of many military troops consequently exposing their family member to the dangers.

Naturalistic studies conducted across the United States of America to assess the effects of war on military families revealed that most of the children were greatly saddened by the images of television while some of the children were proud to be Americans as a result. The great concerns are the developmental and social concerns of the children affairs in the event of war. A further research has been proposed since most of the previous studies were not explicit. Many children who are exposed to these types of troubles are more likely to experience mental health problems, somatic complaints, behavior problems, sleep disorders, and other related difficulties.

Some of the mental problems in the event of death of parents were long-lasting and could last a lifetime hence affecting the physical growth problems and moral development as a whole. No children would respond to problems of war in the same way however most of the effects are generalized as negative war consequences. Children struggle so much to manage their experiences and supportive family members should be prepared to assist them in the process. Therefore human rights groups that are involved in protecting military families from the devastating effects of war can make up programs to educate the families concerned on how to talk to their children concerning the war and the possible consequences, and if the children are affected after parent’s death, therapy is crucial.

The worst effect of war is death of a spouse or a parent. It’s very hard for people who used to live together and share every moment of their life experiences to get over such incidence easily. Death brings about permanent separation which can cause a very serious emotional problem if not handled carefully. Parents involved in war may be ruthless as a result of developed hate from the war zone and may impose ruthless punitive measures on their children. Some people from Vietnam were paranoiac when they came back. Children need to grow with both parents in a joyful environment.

The media coverage had a big impact on the society regarding the war. However the overall reaction is mixed. During Vietnam War, many people were against the war considering that the US and French troops were not pulling out despite the fact that there was no sign of winning the war. Many reports indicated that there was a lot of progress being made yet nothing was in reality being achieved. People suspected this and started protests which saw the troops pull back. Some reporters in fact say that the number of enemies killed was much less than reported in the US. Some channels presented very bad images from the war scene and these traumatized people quite a lot particularly those who had their family members in the war. The reasons that the leaders presented to justify the war were not very concrete, however many scholars now believe that the media was used to brainwash the people concerning the real situation on the ground. In essence, very rational individuals cannot want to support activities that are awfully brutal like bombing the Vietnamese until they give up! Many people were made to believe the US enemies were capable of causing even worse problems and most horrific attacks if they were given a chance to. This caused irrational panic and horror that many resources were allowed to towards financing the war.

The war had devastating effect on the economies of the US and its allies. Currently these nations continue to invest more in war against terror still. In Vietnam, France spent a lot of cash trying to claim back its former colony. The amount that France lost is not recorded but the US alone contributed $ 2,000 million per month during the war period (over $111 billion in total). This resulted in the increase of consumer products in the US. Basically the US economy suffered because it’s a consumer-based economy. As a consequence the value of the dollar dropped on the international scene. The end result was inflation in the US economy and culminated in very slow economic investments and recession. Iraqi war against terror was funded by borrowed money. Such loans usually increase the nation’s debt. As a result many people lost confidence in making investments due to the uncertainty of the economy. When the government gets back to payment of the loans, taxation is very high. It’s no surprise that economic recession of 2008 was just after the Iraqi war.

Politically, the venue of the two wars was in foreign land to the Americans and French. They met very different races, cultures and different political stages. There was not so much impact on the politics of France as it was in the US. The war begun when Eisenhower was president in 1954 and troops were sent to Vietnam. Viet Cong started terrorism campaign in South Vietnam. However these activities did not work well. The war escalated when JF Kennedy became president. JF Kennedy was killed before his term by an assassin. The vice president, Johnson Lyndon took over before he was rightfully elected into office. The war was needed in the reign of Nixon Richard. Other similarities in war include use of advanced technology, Americans felt targeted and they justified their activities on humanitarian grounds.


There are some differences that are very evident between the war on terror and Vietnam conflict. The Vietnam war took place during the cold war period when Americans were greatly opposed to the communist ideologies supported by the two most populous nations, Russia and China. This means that Vietnam presented a proxy conflict for these nations. As a consequence that whole nation was aligned to either of the two camps, capitalism versus communism. Nonetheless, today there are no extremists in ideologies of governance hence the terrorist attacks need not be epitome of war in Taliban region or Iraq. The threat is in essence lower than during the cold war era as the whole world have been involved.

There was a great belief that in the event America and France lost the war in Vietnam, then the south would be dominated by communist rule leading to domino effect where even more countries would join communism. This is contrary to what happened. When the Americans withdrew their troops in defeat, the south became dominated by the communist leaders. However instead of resulting in many nations following suit many more dropped the communist ideologies. The number of communist nations is reducing drastically. The USSR was dissolved into independent nations many of which in fact are currently allied to America and Europe. China is currently developing very fast economically after abandoning the collective management of economic activities. Even now, the northern part of Vietnam is taking steps to liberalize the economy just like china.

Basically, political aspect of the war was also very different in some sense. War on terror target groups of people (gangs) like Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabbab or individuals like Osama bin laden, however the Vietnam War was fought against sovereign nations. Since the 1990s, Sovereignty of Iraq has always been intimidated by the extensive sections that are always imposed by the United Nations as lead by the US and UK. These sanctions were means to coerce Iraq into compliance with UN inspection of its weapons. Rather than fighting Iraq, the US and its allies from Europe claimed that they were targeting Saddam himself. They invaded Iraq claiming it was a threat to the world by hiding terrorists and making nuclear weapons. The US intervened and ousted Saddam Hussein from power and executed him, no weapons were found. To show that they were not against the country as a whole, the US is actively involved in rebuilding Iraq after seeing it through elections.

The factors that were behind the war included non-religion ideas but basically the economic aspect. The economic differences here were about supporting collective or public possession of properties as opposed to the western support of the private free merchandise dealings and corporate operations. American believed that free trade was very good for economic growth and that if all the nations adopted it, then they would greatly progress. The communist extremist opposed the idea and strongly supported collective possession of property. However, today many of them are liberal in trade including the faction that was lead by Ho Minh.

There is a problem regarding the factors behind the two wars in terms of the real cause. Basically, the Vietnam War was religionless or Godless. This means that religion was not in any way considered to be a factor. This is a very critical social difference between the two wars. Today, there is a dispute about the Abrahamic God on the both sides of the war on terror. Basically the staunch Muslims are often found in terrorist gangs and as such most Christians are opposed to terrorism. In essence, these opposites are considered to possess some profound similarities. They all believe in one and omnipotent God who will pass judgment on every human on the final day when the world ends. Both of them believe in the free agency. Such types of commonality in the causes of war in Vietnam were not present. Fighting the holy war otherwise referred to as jihad by Muslims has over the years been misunderstood and the concept behind jihad seems to be completely lost. Currently the use of the word is basically to refer to a Muslim extremist. Initially the word ‘jihad’ from the Holy Koran mythically meant to strive in the path of God; more like service to the lord.

Jihad is basically working for God and it’s should not be linked to killings and attacks on the west in the name of fighting a Holy war. According to Muslims, the correct word for conservative Islamists (extremists) is “hirabah” which particular identifies with sinful engagement in the war in contrast to Islamic law and doctrines and hence what the Muslims have engaged in is global hirabah not holy war, jihad. The abuse of the meaning of Jihad has escalated in terrorism.

The fighters in the Vietnam War though hand very big differences, they were considerate of the global impact of using weapons of mass destruction. The God-fearing Americans and the atheist communists believed that detonating nuclear weapons would be catastrophic to the entire planet and totally avoided the use. It’s believed that the soviets had the bombs. In today’s fight against terror, there is too much tension that the terrorism would not hesitate to use nuclear weapons when an opportunity arises. Basically there is no real evident but the 9/11 attack on the US is just an example of what they are capable of doing. Considering that many Americans are Christians, from their evangelical teachings, they interpret the end time in terms of worse destruction that could only be described by nuclear explosion.


Both wars created a platform for conflict between Nations and rather than concentrating on development investments, many countries were influenced to invest in military and nuclear weapons. Even today there are some nations that are building power plants regardless of the UN and international community warnings. North Korea and Iran are notorious and they seem to ignore the effect these could have on the world if the weapons landed in the hands of terrorists. The post second world war lessons could have been used for reforms and not on contradictory ideologies of two power nations or differing ideologies. Cold war is just an extension of the Second World War but lacked a chance to erupt in Vietnam. The war culminated when the US and France pulled back. However the current terrorist threat is very difficult to deal with since negotiations seem not to work out. Anti-terrorist nations only take precaution.

Works Cited

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Dumbrell, John and Ryan, David. Vietnam in Iraq: Tactics, Lessons, Legacies and Ghosts. London: Routledge, 2007. Print.

Ficarra, Bernard. International Diplomacy and United States National Policies. Lanham, Maryland: Hamilton Books, 2006. Print.

Gani, Miriam and Penelope, Mathew. (Eds). Fresh Perspectives on the ‘War on Terror. ANU College of Law Research Paper No. 08-40: ANU E-Press: Canberra 2008

Neu, Charles, (Ed). After Vietnam: Legacies Of A Lost War. 19.1(2009): 21-24.

Wiest, Andrew. The Vietnam War 1956 -1975. Osprey Publishing. Oxford, 2002. Print.

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