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War

A. Current day effects of Vietnam War include:

1. There remain more than 300,000 Vietnamese MIAs (probably more, since those who fought for the Government of South Vietnam have consistently been undercounted) and more than 2 million Vietnamese were killed during the war years. Even more, obviously, were wounded. Artificial limbs remain rare and expensive. So Vietnam's productivity, its birth rate, family life, and social relations are only now beginning to recover the human losses of the war.

2. The economic embargo which the United States led until recently dramatically affected Vietnam's ability to recover from the war. It could trade outside the Communist world only with difficulty for a long time. A greater problem was the hesitancy of natural trading and investment partners such as Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, France, etc., to trade and invest. That has changed in recent years, particularly since 1986, when the Vietnamese government instituted doi moi. U.S. companies have been clamoring for an end to the embargo and full diplomatic recognition since at least 1990, because they realize that Vietnam's oil, cheap, well-educated labor force, and other valuable resources are being snapped up by other countries.

B. Vietnam's relations with China:

Vietnam also contributed to its own problems by engaging in border skirmishes with China and by invading Cambodia in order to overthrow Pol Pot's government. These wars surprised no one who has studied Vietnam's history, since Vietnam and China have more often been enemies than friends, or even peaceful neighbors. The traditional animosity does suggest however, that the U.S. war in Vietnam was perhaps unnecessary.