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Asian Studies: Vietnam – Two Paths to Nation-Building Essay

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The Two Paths

The history of Vietnam can be regarded as an example of the struggle of nationalists that had different approaches in mind. The two groups wanted to make Vietnam an independent state where people could enjoy liberty. However, the two groups had different approaches, and they also used different tools to achieve their aims.

It is also necessary to add that the two groups resorted to the help of other states (the so-called third force). This shaped the struggle and created two different camps. One camp was represented by communist nationalists (led by Ho Chi Minh), and the other was represented by anti-communist nationalists (Dinh Diem was one of the most significant leaders within the camp).

As has been mentioned above, the two camps fought for the independence of the Vietnamese but used different tools. Firstly, communist nationalists tried to adopt the ways used in the USSR. They wanted to eliminate private ownership and make the Vietnamese create collective enterprises. They also focused on the development of industries.

However, Diem and his supporters did not want to accept the communist approach as they were “wary of the communists for reasons of experience” (Miller 435). Diem wanted to follow the example of European countries and the USA. Notably, Diem also wanted to start a “social revolution” (quoted in Miller 440).

Thus, he did not want to adopt radical ways of the communists of the USSR. However, he believed he could help workers and peasants live better. Diem thought he could build a just society where people would share socialistic values. Remarkably, Diem did not provide a specific political program or particular strategies to achieve his aims (Miller 440). Diem also wanted to focus on the development of technology rather than industries (Miller 445).

Secondly, the point that made the two camps differently was the attitude towards religion. Ho Chi Minh was born into a family that practiced Confucianism. However, the communist ideology had a very specific attitude towards religions. The communist ideology was turned into a religion.

However, Diem was a devout Catholic, and he promoted Christian values. He also attended the Vatican and communicated with various Catholic leaders. Thus, Diem thought Catholic values could help the Vietnamese develop a just and strong society.

Finally, the two camps also addressed different ‘third forces.’ Thus, Ho Chi Minh addressed the USSR and China for help, while Diem addressed such countries as Japan, France, and the USA. It is necessary to note that this collaboration affected the development of the country and the escalation of the conflict. Moreover, Vietnam became a “key Cold War battleground” (Miller, 445).

Thus, the USA and the USSR tried to prove that their ways (communist or capitalist) was the most effective. These two countries wanted to make Vietnam follow their ways. It is necessary to note that Vietnamese people found themselves in a very difficult position as their national interests were not taken into account by the countries that were involved in the conflict.

In conclusion, it is possible to note that Ho Chi Minh and Dinh Diem tried to create an independent Vietnamese state. However, they had different approaches and addressed different countries to help them. This led to the horrible war and the deaths of millions.

People Caught in the Middle

Hang and Phuong are two women who are caught in the middle of the conflict within Vietnam. The two women can be regarded as symbolic representations of the country. They are unable to influence the events, but they are only observers. However, the two women find their paths in the end.

Hang is a young woman who had quite a lot of hardships in her childhood. Notably, she is not a policy maker or an active struggle. She only observes. Thus, she recalls that the end of the war was associated with certain hopes and aspirations (Duong 21). However, she also remembers that people were still divided by their views.

Moreover, her family was also torn into two camps. She had to work hard as the conflict deteriorated the economy of the region. Hang often had to starve when she was a girl or a teenager. She also could not enjoy the happiness of having a strong family as she barely knew her father, her uncle was an outcast, and she had to be ashamed of her aunt’s presence.

However, at the end of the book, the young woman accepts her past, and it is clear that she is going to leave her past behind. Hang’s commitment to start a new life and start walking along her path can be regarded as a symbolic representation of the path of the entire country, i.e., a newly independent country.

Phuong is another female who had to survive in a country where people killed each other for ideological reasons. Phuong is trying to find her path. She needs a man who can marry and support her. It is necessary to note that Phuong is more like a symbol. Phuong stands for the entire country. The woman has two different ways.

Pyle is an American, who fights against communist nationalists, promises to marry Phuong (The Quiet American). This can symbolize US support and the Americans’ desire to make Vietnam adopt American ways. Fowler promises the woman to marry her, but he is unlikely to do it as he is married. The relationship between Phuong and Fowler can symbolize the Vietnamese people’s future in case the country will follow its national path. At the end of the film, it is clear that Fowler will marry Phuong and will be able to make her happy.

On balance, it is possible to state that the two characters are rather different, but they serve as symbols to show the future of the country, or rather the way this future is seen by the Vietnamese.

Works Cited

Duong, Phan Huy. Paradise of the Blind. New York, NY: HarperCollins, 2002. Print.

Miller, Edward. “Vision, Power and Agency: The Ascent of Ngo Dinh Diem, 1945-54.” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 35.3 (2004): 433-458. Print.

The Quiet American. Dir. Phillip Noyce. New York, NY: Miramax Films. 2002. DVD.

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