On March 29th, 1973 the last of the US combat troops made their way out of Vietnam as a part of the Paris Peace Accords. By April, the acting Vietnamese president General Duong Van Minh surrendered to communist forces in the Independence Palace in Saigon. The Vietnam war, which lasted 20 years, had come to an end.
Domino Theory vs. Democratic Peace Theory
The US entered Vietnam in an attempt to contain the communist uprising in South East Asia. Also known as containment, this was used as a justification for the United States interfering in the region. At the end of the war, the United States failed to actually contain the spread of communism throughout Vietnam. Arguably however, the US presence in Vietnam stifled communist successes in other southeast Asian nations such as Thailand and Singapore.
Let’s Crunch the Numbers:
Inevitably, both sides suffered tremendous losses. North Vietnam clocked in at an approximate 1.1 million military deaths; South Vietnam describes a loss of 230,000 and a combined 2 million civilians on both sides. The United States suffered a loss of 58,000 which were killed in action, and an additional 2,000 missing during the war. The US spent $950 billion dollars (adjusted for inflation, 2011) on wartime mobilization. American support of South Vietnam weighed heavily on both economic and human resources. In addition to actual cross-border war, many peace activists within American borders’ lives were claimed.
Vietnam vs. the American Military
Objectively, the communists of North Vietnam achieved their wartime goals of reuniting the country and gaining its independence. Backed by seemingly unending US support, South Vietnam lost the war. It can be argued that America lost the political war against the Vietnamese communists, disregarding the actual military “wins” America gained during their presence in the country.