SURROUND SOUND COPYRIGHT 2011
Background photo courtesy of Wasitthee Chaiyakan
This course examines the Vietnam War and its impact on Asia, in particular on a number of Southeast Asian societies. Properly known as the Second Indochina War, the conflict was unique in the scale of U.S. military investment and the profound destruction delivered by the world’s most powerful military machine, the U.S. Air Force. Nevertheless, the war did not result in American victory, nor did peace result in stability, leading instead to decades of civil war, social disruption, poverty, one of the world’s most notorious examples of genocide in modern history, and yet another Indochina War by the end of the 1970s. Why the war resulted in so much collateral damage is often explained by reference to American overkill and strategic errors by the Nixon Administration. This course considers whether these explanations are sufficient. The course examines the broader Asian experience of the Vietnam War, how Asians shaped and were impacted by the conflict, and why the war ultimately spun out of control and beyond the borders of Vietnam. It will do so by examining a wide range of primary source documents, including conventional archival documentation but also oral histories, newsreels, photographs, and even movie making.