Did anything good come out of the Vietnam War?

From an outsider’s perspective, it seems that U.S. involvement in south east Asia accomplished pretty much nothing aside from a colossal waste of lives, money and lasting damage to U.S. prestige. After all, the commies still won and today Vietnam seems a decent enough place. Not exactly a paradise but certainly no totalitarian hellhole that would warrant the war, they even told Pol Pot to knock that shit off.

Other than a few good songs, did either side actually get anything positive out of the whole mess?

It is hard to think of anything good. One positive thing-the Vietnamese people seem to bear us little animosity-they see us as a counterbalance to the feared Chinese Empire.
One question I have always had: the famous “Golden Triangle” area (the intersection of Laos, Vietnam, Thailand-this area was reputed to be a major heroin -producing area-is it still active?

Thousands of Vietnamese restaurants in the U.S.? (Hey, I consider that a good thing.)

One might consider that OJT in jungle warfare against guerrillas to be a good thing, since until then we were still using WWII tactics. Losses in aerial combat resulted in the foundation of ‘Top Gun’, resulting in better fighter tactics. Helicopter gunships and other weapons systems were tested and improved. Now ‘better ways of killing people’ might not be considered a ‘positive’; but that depends on your point of view.

The war probably demonstrated U.S. resolve in world affairs, which, since we ‘won the Cold war’, might be considered positive.

You could say that their experience with the Americans gave them the military might to let them win the Cambodian-Vietnamese war in the first place.
That would be a positive, except that the Vietnam War largely was responsible for the Khmer Rouge coming into power in the first place.

ETA: as well as defending against Chinese aggression. For all we know, Cambodia or China may have launched a war/committed atrocities against the Vietnamese anyway even without the cold war, and Vietnam may not have been prepared as well.

We got to test tons of weapons systems and techniques in actual combat conditions. Sure, it sucked for most humans involved in the war, but the government (the Pentagon) and quite a few industries came out of the war doing just fine, thank you very much.

We learned our lesson as a country. We won’t send people to die in a pointless war anymore.

Oh, wait…

A lot of advances in medical technology and techniques came out of that war.

You know, this question gets asked a lot in the 3/4-drunk stage of cocktail parties. You are supposed to answer, “No, of course not!!!” and go refresh your drink.

Given that a direct consequence of South Vietnam’s collapse was the slaughter of at least 1 million South Vietnamese, plus another 1 million in Cambodia and Laos (we’ll never know the exact figures), I think we could say that for the time we were in Vietnam and keeping the North Vietnamese at bay, we prolonged the lives of 2 million people by a decade or so. That seems to me to be an absolute good.

I don’t know the number of Vietnamese immigants currently in the US, but I think that that population is far happier and more prosperous than they would have been in the Vietnamese worker’s paradise, especially since the ones that fled were for the most part, the most likely to be rounded up and killed.

While our presence in Vietnam may ultimately have been a failure, it did send the message to China and Russia that we would not just sit back and watch while they destabilzed every government they could and encouraged their puppet states to start brushfire wars.

And yes, pho shops.

Ending the draft and for the US gaining a new fairly educated immigrant population.

That’s pho sure!

It did seem to make America more reluctant to try anything similar for a long time. Hopefully Iraq will have similar effect.

Yes - the invention of Super Glue (designed to glue wounds together in battlefield triage before the casuality could be casevac’d back for proper medical treatment).

And, the Vietnam War was the first time the US military had used any organised system of battlefield triage (an idea/[practise they pinched from the French, who had used it successfully during their wars of withdrawal from what was Indochina).

Although that’s a quip, science fiction writer David Brin (highly opinionated, but brilliant) says that the Vietnam war was a gigantic “Viking Raid” where the U.S. nabbed the cream of their citizenry: their educated class got out ahead of the collapse, and was made welcome here, where they are contributing significantly to our (“our” now to include them!) economy.

We realized the folly of going into a war half-assed with no exit strategy. Really we did. Define the limited mission, determine what was success, do it, and get out. We followed that rule very well until 9/11 made us “rethink” that position.

Well, we rethought and after Iraq and Afghanistan, we are learning it again.

That’s a bit misplaced as we didn’t force (“nab”) any of their citizenry; they came here voluntarily. Certainly, many if not most of the educated class would have been liquidated once the North Vietnamese took over. Communist governments don’t like people smart enough to dissent, and especially didn’t back then.

As I said above, for those people who got out, it was a far preferable outcome to being worked to death in a labor camp or simply being dragged out and shot. The mass murders in South Vietnam that followed its defeat were pretty much ignored by the world press, especially the American media, because we didn’t want to even think about the place, especially since we were being so entertained by Watergate. So that we saved the lives of those people was definitely a good thing–they would have been rounded up and killed whenever the North Vietnamese took over, so our presence there at least gave them time to get out.

It was half-quip. I do like Vietnamese food.

Historically, immigration has been a great positive for the country.

Well, thanks the the war in Vietnam, America was briefly willing to question authority; unfortunately, the Pentagon Papers case was followed by Watergate. While Nixon and his crew deserved to be exposed, prosecuted, and driven out from the White House, the Watergate scandal as a whole turned the “teachable moment” on its ear. Instead of “question authority,” the lesson learned in the '70s was “you can become rich and famous if you expose a politician.” Most of the exposés perpetrated since then by the press and its self-appointed irregulars have done little if anything to defend the body politic from corruption or malfeasance in high office; instead, they have predominantly been tawdry and inconsequential sex scandals, feeding public disgust, exciting political opponents, and lowering both the tone and the expectations of debate, with no benefit to the nation.

But there was a brief time when reporters were doing the job as well as it’s ever been done.

The bombing of North Vietnam and Cambodia prevented the creation of two armies that would have rolled down Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore? Read that claim from somewhere.

Yeah, lot’s of people learned a lesson about trusting government and the military. But most of them forgot it pretty quickly.

Good points.

I’ve always wondered by GW Gump, sorry, Bush went into Iraq with no exist strategy - mind you, I always wondered why he went in there in the first place - as the 9/11 al-Q threat came from Afghanistan and not Iraq (a bit like being hit in the face by one boy in the playground, and in response, turning round and petulantly hitting another boy who hadn’t laid a finger on you).

The other worrying thing is that Bush is clearly no student of History…

In the 19th Century, during ‘The Great Game’, Great Britain was embroiled in three (yes, count them, three) Anglo-Afghan Wars (won one, lost one, drew one), and that’s before the USSR signed-up for 10 years of unmitigated abuse before leaving with its tail between its legs, leaving the country in ruins but its people emboldened.

No one ever wins in Afghanistan - so what made Bush think he had a prayer shall have to remain a blessed mystery.