Impact of the war

Vietnam

  • Approximately 500,000 civilians died.
  • Agent Orange caused birth defects in children and this chemical continues to have a negative effect on Vietnam.
  • The country was reunified after the communist takeover of the South in 1976.
  • Before the war, Vietnam had been a major rice exporter. The destruction of land during the war meant that the country could not produce enough food for the population.
  • Many skilled and professional workers connected to the South Vietnamese regime left the country in fear of being persecuted.
  • The communist forces established concentration camps for enemies of communism and supporters of the South Vietnamese Government, where many were sent to be ‘re-educated’.

USA

Across the world, the USA'S reputation had been tarnished. It was criticised for supporting a corrupt government and the media had shown the world how brutal American tactics were.

Approximately 58,000 American soldiers were killed and another 153,000 were wounded.

During the Vietnam War, the USA spent $828 billion on its military. From 1965, it was spending more than $50 billion per year. The additional spending to fund the USA's involvement in Vietnam has been estimated at $111 billion.

Psychological effects

  • Over 100,000 US troops lost limbs in the war and required treatment.
  • ‘Draft dodgers’ were treated badly and some fled the country.
  • American troops returning from the war were also subject to ill-treatment. Many civilians treated them as brutal thugs who should be punished or avoided.
  • The fact that the USA, the great superpower, had lost to a much smaller and less powerful country was greatly demoralising. There was a loss of confidence in American military abilities.