Why don't the Vietnamese hate us?

Vietnam was a pretty much unprovoked war where we invaded, brought chaos to the country, killed thousands of civilians, and then abruptly left. I would expect that the average Vietnamese citizen that was alive during that time would hate any and everything American. Yet today Americans travel to and live in Vietnam and the relationship between citizens of the two countries seems to be amicable. Why/how is this?

On a related note, if we were to abruptly withdraw from Iraq today the consensus seems to be that it would breed additional anti-Americanism and create even more of a problem 5-25 years from now - this is why we can’t leave yet. It didn’t happen in Vietnam, why will it necessarily happen in Iraq?

Viet Nam is largely buddhist, which has a core tenet of compassion and forgiveness (in a huddhist sense not Christian).

Because they won :slight_smile: .

Also the fact that we didn’t start the war probably has something to do with it.

Also there probably was a lot more animosity 30 years ago than now. Look at Iran. Young people in the 70’s loathed us. Their (older) leaders still do but the current young generation not so much.

Finally, I don’t know if they’ll hate us in 30 years but there seem to more psychos inculcating continuing hatered than there was in Veitnam.

Just my guesses.

Sounds more like a debate to me and your OP is full of opinion. There was already a war before we went. The country had been in chaos long before the first American troops set foot on the ground. I grant you that things escalated greatly during the American involvement.

They were too busy hating the French. :slight_smile: No, I’m (kind of) serious: a lot of Vietnamese viewed their former colonial masters, i.e. the French, as being the ones who really got them into that mess, so that’s where a lot of the animosity went.


Great debate going on here, folks.

In fact, it’s so good, that I think I’m going to move this – to Great Debates.

Uncanny, eh?


It’s certainly true that when US and Australian vets go over there on battlefield tours, the only Vietnamese who get into the idea are the ones directly making money out of the inbound travel industry. The rest of the Vietnamese are very: “WTF? The war was horrible, and it was thirty years ago, so we want to put it behind us? Why do these guys want to come here and look at this stuff?” They are very bemused by the whole thing.

Our Vietnamese war was a couple years in 40 years of conflict in which the Vietnamese fought the Japanese, French, other Vietnames, Americans, Chinese and Cambodiens.

So while to many Americans the Vietnam War was THE post WWII conflict, to the Vietnamese it was one of many.

I think betenoir’s answer is the right one. There’s no lingering bitterness on the winning side.

The Vietnamese also have experience with just how utterly depraved and barbaric a regime can be (since they had to deal with the Pol Pot regime next door, and many ethnic Vietnamese were massacred by them). Perhaps everyone else just doesn’t warrant a comparison when lined up against those butchers.

I think one must also remember that there were two sides (at least) during what we call the Vietnam War. Many Vietnamese in the former South Vietnam were not supportive at all of the winning side.

I think Malodorous has it. There have been many conflicts over the centuries, of which the US involvement is only one. There’s a fatalism and resignation evident in individuals I met and talked to.

Purely anecdotally, my experiences in Vietnam suggest that the hate list goes thus:

Khmer Rouge
Everyone else involved

It is, however, telling that Saigon’s War Remnants Museum used to be called (IIRC something like) the Museum of War Crimes of Chinese and American Imperialism. And while there’s no bitterness evident amongst the people, the museum is chock-full of anti American propaganda. Some of which is justified.

Nevertheless, this government animosity doesn’t stop the little old men in the market churning out fake American dog tags, Zippo lighters, fatigues, etc. and welcoming returning US vets with genuine warmth.

Perhaps it would be useful to turn the OP on its head. Why don’t Americans hate Vietnamese?

The passage of time is a big factor of course, but so it a fairly long association and cross-pollination. How many Americans married Vietnamese? (Hint: The same as the number of Vietnamese who married Americans.) How many Vietnamese restaurants in the US nowadays?

We simply know each other fairly well and that defuses a lot of hate.

Not really. If the British, Russians, Germans, Chinese, and Japanese aren’t on our hate list, you can be sure the Vietnamese aren’t even going to merit a second thought. America doesn’t hold grudges against other people or nations very well.

That is what I was thinking. I do not hate the people of Afghanistan because the Taliban ran the government, and I don’t hate the Iraqis because of Saddam. The Vietnam war was a very unpopular war domestically and maybe that had something to do with it, the Vietnamese may realize that the public really didn’t want to be a part of that war. If the average american was clamoring for more bombs to be dropped irrelevant of whether they hit civilians then perhaps the attitudes would be different. Plus the US military did try to build some infrastructure in Vietnam.

I don’t know. There was alot of anti-France sentiment in the US not long ago, and still some residual feelings. And the US public doesn’t seem very pro Saudi Arabia. Perhaps in 10 years it will all change.

Interestingly I’ve seen a lot more residual dislike (wouldn’t really call it hate) towards Germans and Japanese (especially the Japanese) left over from WWII then towards the Vietnamese from the Vietnam war. For example my grandmother still claims to not like the Japanese (though really only in the abstract, she still has a Japanese friend from work) after her late husband was tortured in a POW camp during the war. A teacher of mine in highschool still won’t buy German products because of the holocaust.

In response to both:

We’re not fans of France because they’re acting like jerks. We’re not fans of the Saudis because they’re promoting violent Islam on a global scale, and because they’re jerks. We’d be acting silly to pretend there’s no rift between us. That doesn’t mean we have any lasting grudge against either.

And yes, there are people who have strong reasons to hate Japan and Germany, and both of those countries deserved it. OTOH, that didn’t stop us from rebuilding both and becoming their best friends.

They did deserve it, in the past tense. I wouldn’t say that they still deserve to have thier good boycotted today because of the actions 50 years ago. But its that sort of residual hatred long after a war has ended that I think the OP is talking about.

Yeah, but us “being their best friends” is a function of the policies of the US gov’t. I’m talking about how individual Americans who lived through the war actually feel. Of course I think most of those people have probably let go, but some still feel strongly about Germany and Japan, despite the fact that most of the actual purpatrators of those countries war crimes are dead and gone, or at least retired. This is, in my limited observations, in contrast to how people feel about the Vietnamese, despite the fact that the former conflict was more recent. Hence the observation of the OP.

IMO it takes more than one war to build up a serious hatred between to nations. The US fought one the most brutal wars in history with Japan, yet was “back on speaking terms” so to speak with US in not time. Compare that to Japan and Korea, or France and Germany (or France and Britain for that matter), which have rivalries going back hundreds of years that continue to this day.