U.S. Imperialism and the Vietnam War

This essay was written by Celine Qin on the 19th of May, 2022.

Imperialism is known as the highest stage of capitalism, often enacted through acts of military conquest over other countries, especially by wealthy capitalist nations such as the United States. In the stage of imperialism, a direct extension of the fundamentals of capitalism, the world is dominated by monopoly corporations, which practically run all international politics and economics. This includes the export of capital, offshoring of industry and labor, and violent atrocities waged in the name of prosperity for the ruling nations.

The United States has been the largest perpetrator of imperialism in the modern world. Its invasion of and hegemony over the large portion of the world, particularly what is referred to as the Global South, has led these countries and its people to suffer from exploitation, poverty, war, human trafficking, and numerous links of oppression.

Asia and the Pacific is just one of the many regions that has soaked the impact of Amerika’s domination. What is covered in this article is merely a fraction of the U.S.’s violent track record that has damaged the globe with horrendous and course-turning events. When discussing AAPI history, or “Asian American Pacific Islander” history, America’s crimes, acting as one of the root causes for immigration patterns and refugee crises, are often an afterthought in the conversation. This article, part of a series of related future articles presenting the history of Amerikan violence in Asia and the Pacific, focuses on U.S. imperialism during the Vietnam War.

The Vietnam War took place between the 1950s and 1970s, intensified during the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Fought between the North and the South (which had the U.S. as a principal ally), the war led to the death of over 3 million people, half of which were innocent Vietnamese civilians.

U.S. intervention in the war is responsible for the vast majority of these deaths, and this war served as at outlet to expand Amerika’s imperial conquest, as well as white supremacy, xenophobia, and sexual exploitation, especially against Vietnamese women.

The My Lai Massacre was one of the most horrific acts of violence committed against civilians in the Vietnam War. On March 16, 1968, American soldiers stormed the village of My Lai and slaughtered over 500 women, children, and elderly. Many young women and girls were also raped and mutilated before being murdered. Following the massacre, U.S. troops attempted to cover it up and the news had not reached the public until over a year later.

Violence against Vietnamese civilian women by Amerikan servicemen throughout the war has been largely overlooked. Historically, sexual violence against women has run rampant in wartime, and this violence has risen to astronomical degrees with U.S. imperialism. To the U.S. military, raping women during the Vietnam War was “systematic and collective”; an “unofficial military policy” (An Everyday Affair by Elizabeth Anderson).

Sexual violence was a military tactic. In the Vietnam War, victory was measured in body count as many military engagements between Amerikan forces and northern Vietnam happened on small scales with hidden enemies, a concept known as guerilla warfare. With no solid territorial goals, Amerikan success relied on eliminating as many Vietnamese fighters as possible. U.S. soldiers report using rape as interrogation to get information from women.

Laos is the most bombed heavily country in history. Since 1964, the U.S. military dropped 260 million bombs on Laos. Many of these bombs also were dropped on Cambodia. Between 1964 to 1973, the U.S. waged the Secret War in Laos, signed off by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aiming to cut off supply lines from the Communist party during the Vietnam War to ensure Amerikan victory.

The bombings were part of an effort by the United States CIA to support the Royal Lao government against Pathet Lao, affiliated with North Vietnam and the Soviet Union during the Vietnam War. In total, the CIA launched over 580,000 bombing missions. The U.S.’s Secret War changed the livelihood of Laotian civilians forever, hindering health and education.

The Secret War resulted in demolished villages and hundreds of thousands of Laotian civilians to be killed or displaced. Currently, 80 million bombs in Laos remain unexploded and continue to kill Laotian people. About 75 percent of bomb cluster munitions involve children.

Sources:

https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/bitstream/handle/2152/84235/andersonelizabeth_Thesis_AnEverdayAffair_2020%20%281%29.pdf?sequence=2

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/10/03/american-rape-of-vietnamese-women-was-considered-standard-operating-procedure/

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