It was 50 years ago that the U.S. signed a peace treaty to end its long war in Indochina, after losing over 58,000 troops and spending billions of dollars in a failed effort to prevent the nationalist-communist forces of North Vietnam from unifying the country.
The U.S. killed 2-3 million Vietnamese, dropped 4.6 million tons of bombs, and created 15 million refugees--but still failed.
Award-winning historian of the Vietnam War Robert Buzzanco has written and lectured widely about the war, including its final stages, the peace treaty, and the legacy of Vietnam. He is our guest on the Lean to the Left podcast.
Buzzanco is a history professor at the University of Houston and co-host of the Green & Red Podcast and is the author of Vietnam and the Transformation of American Life, Masters of War: Military Dissent and Politics in the Vietnam Era and many other publications about the Vietnam War.
Last March Bob appeared on the Lean to the Left podcast to discuss the war in Ukraine. We’re delighted to have him back to talk about Vietnam and its aftermath 50 years later.
Here are questions we discuss in the episode:
Q. Can you put into context what led to the 1973 peace treaty and its aftermath?
Q. Let’s talk about the Christmas Bombings launched by President Nixon in December 1972. What led to this offensive and what was the eventual result?
Q. Today, Vietnam, our former enemy, is now a trading partner with the U.S. and last year Americans invested nearly $3 billion there. Was it worth it?
Q. What lessons can we learn from the Vietnam War?
Q. How does that relate to American foreign policy today when it comes to Russia, Ukraine, China, North Korea?
Q. You had Noam Chomsky on your Green and Red podcast, and he claims the U.S. actually won the war in Vietnam. What was his logic, and do you agree?
Q. When our soldiers returned from Vietnam, many were treated abhorently. There were no parades, no welcome home events. They were left to deal with their own terrors with little help. Your thoughts about what’s happened since.
Q. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, the number of Vietnam veterans who served on active duty from Nov. 1, 1955 through May 15, 1975, was close to 7 million, including 300,000 women. Your thoughts about the contribution of these Americans.
Q. From May 11-13 there will be a special Vietnam War commemoration event in Washington DC to honor all those who served during that period. Seems like this is long overdue. Yes?
Q. Vietnam veterans deserve to know their service mattered and that we care and are thankful for their sacrifice. Why do you think it’s taken so long for these brave Americans to be appropriately recognized?
Q. Earlier today I interviewed a Vietnam veteran who as a 22-year-old was a first lieutenant and was a platoon leader in active combat. His name is Robin Bartlett, and he described the emotional toll that his service there has taken on his life. One of his responsibilities was to help prepare the bodies of the fallen for shipment home, including an index card listing the details of the soldier’s death. After all these years, the emotions were still raw. Your thoughts?
Take a listen:
Watch the interview: https://youtu.be/ah6PLWnWQm4