Jun 15, 2009

Aftermath of the Vietnam War and Reunification

After April 30th, 1975, many of those who held high positions in the old South Vietnamese government were persecuted, and sent to reeducation camps. This, and an overall decline in living conditions resulted in an exodus of over a million Vietnamese that fled the country either by sea or overland through Cambodia. They settled in refugee camps in Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Indonesia. Large Vietnamese refugee communities still exist in these countries. Some Vietnamese were picked up by US Navy ships, sent to Guam, and eventually settled in the United States, Canada, France, Australia or in various European nations. Others were robbed, raped, or killed by pirates in the South China Seas. Others still faced attacks by cruel weather, shark attacks, or died of starvation. Many lived in makeshift refugee encampments for years. While most were resettled to other countries within five years, others languished in these camps for over a decade. Some refugees were deported back to Vietnam, facing severe punishment for attempting to flee. The last of the official refugee camps were closed in 2005.

Debate about the significance of the Vietnam War continues to this day: one debate centers on whether the war was an internal civil war or a proxy war; another concerns whether the Vietnam War reinforced or disproved the Domino Theory or that the war mitigated the consequences of the fallen domino, Vietnam; whether the rise of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and the resulting genocide, is a direct or indirect result of the Vietnam War; whether if Nixon had avoided the Watergate scandal, he would have prevented the fall of Saigon or he had intended to abandon Vietnam all along.