As crowds gathered in Ho Chi Minh City on Thursday to mark the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung reminded the crowd of the role the United States had played in that war. “They committed countless barbarous crimes, caused immeasurable losses and pain to our people and country,” Dung told the audience in an address.
Given that Vietnam and the United States now enjoy a relatively stable and friendly relationship, it may seem a provocative thing for the prime minister to say. But it’s not hard to understand the reason for Dung’s sentiment.
American estimates say that as many as 250,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died in the war, while 58,000 Americans were killed. In total, around 3 million North Vietnamese forces and civilians may have died, according to the government. There were acts of extreme cruelty committed by both sides, and American popular culture has established the war as a moral catastrophe.