The Korean war is often called the forgotten war. Of course there are many more wars far more forgotten, for example the massive U.S. invasion of the Dominican Republic that smashed the new democracy there from 1965-1966. However, what has been forgotten is the massive bloodbath that resulted from the Korean War, during which 3.5 million Koreans died. The Vietnam war is far more well known because it awakened a generation to the vicious nature of American imperialism. Growing up (I was born a couple years after it ended) it was the last major war the U.S. had waged; since then, America’s overt wars were kept brief specifically to avoid another Vietnam. The brief wars of the ’80s and ’90s: Grenada, Libya, Panama, and Iraq. The long wars were the covert wars: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Angola.
Vietnam was chiefly known to my generation through Hollywood movies like Apocalypse Now and Platoon. Thus like most back then I never really even thought to ask, why did the war begin in the first place? What was it all about? Never once in these films did they ever have a Viet Cong explain what they were fighting for. Actually, in fairness to Platoon director Oliver Stone, I should mention that he did eventually make the brilliant Heaven and Earth, which attempted to tell the story of the war from the perspective of a Vietnamese woman. Of course, not even this film is told from the perspective of the NLF, the National Liberation Front. Instead the protagonist survives by collaborating with the Americans, eventually marrying an American soldier who turns out to be a war criminal, a special forces soldier who committed all manner of atrocities as part of America’s psychological operations against the Vietnamese. Sorry for the early tangent but I can’t help but mention this forgotten classic. My point is that while the Vietnam war used to receive a great deal of attention, the actual reasons for the war have been less discussed.
H/t reader I.G.
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