Vietnam WarThe Vietnam War was a war fought between 1964 and 1975 on the ground in South Vietnam and bordering areas of Cambodia and Laos (see also, Secret War), and in bombing runs (Rolling Thunder) over North Vietnam. Fighting on one side was a coalition of forces including the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam), the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea. Fighting on the other side was a coalition of forces including the Democratic Republic of Vietnam (North Vietnam) and the National Liberation Front (NLF, Viet Cong), a communist-led South Vietnamese guerrilla movement. The USSR and China provided military aid to the North Vietnamese and to the NLF, but they were not military combatants. The war was part of a larger regional conflict involving the neighboring countries of Cambodia and Laos, known as the Second Indochina War. In Vietnam, this conflict is known as the American War. Origins of the War The Vietnam War was in many ways a direct successor to the French Indochina War, sometimes referred to as the First Indochina War, in which the French fought, with the economic support of USA, to regain control of their former colony in Indochina, after the Japanese surrender, against the independence movement, Viet Minh led by Communist Party leader Ho Chi Minh. After the Viet Minh defeated the French colonial army at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, the colony was granted independence. According to the ensuing Genova Conference, Vietnam was partitioned, ostensibly temporarily, into a Northern and Southern zones of Viet-Nam. The former was to be ruled by Ho Chi Minh, while the latter would be under the control of Emperor Bao Dai. In 1955 the South Vietnamese monarchy was abolished and Prime Minister Ngo Dinh Diem became President of a new South Vietnamese republic. The Geneva accords specified that elections to unify the coutry would be scheduled to take place in June, 1956, but such elections were never held. The RVN government of President Diem, with the support of US President Eisenhower, had no interest in holding elections that threatened to bring Communist influences into the South's government. This was especially true after the north implemented a massive agricultural reform program, that distributed land to poor peasants, with an obvious influence on the electorate of the south. In addition the Communists were seen as highly unlikely to allow a free election in their half of Vietnam. Regardless, neither the US nor the two Vietnams had signed the election clause in the accord, and were thus not bound to honor it. Initially, it seemed that a partitioned Vietnam would become the norm, similar in nature to the partitioned Korea created years earlier. After the communists consolidated their power in the North, they formed the National Liberation Front (NLF or Viet Cong) as a guerrilla movement in opposition to the South Vietnamese government. (The RVN and the US referred to the NLF as Viet Cong, short for Viet Nam Cong San, or "Vietnamese Communist" The NLF itself never called itself by this name). In response to the guerilla war, the United States began sending military advisors in support of the government in the South. North Vietnam and the USSR supported the NLF with arms and supplies, advisors, and regular units of the North Vietnamese Army, which were transported via an extensive network of trails and roads through the neutral nation of Laos, which became known as the Ho Chi Minh trail. US Escalation US involvement in the war was a gradual process, with [Image:vietcong.jpg] combat personnel arriving 1950. As its military involvement increased over the years under successive Vietcong casualties U.S. presidents, both Democrat and Republican (including Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon), despite warnings by the US military leadership against a major ground war in Asia. There was never a formal declaration of war but there were a series of presidential decisions that increased the number of "military advisers" to the region. One of the first occurred on July 27, 1964 when 5,000 additional US military advisers were ordered sent to South Vietnam which brought the total number of US forces in Vietnam to 21,000. The single notable element of actual increased U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War during 1964 was a program of covert GVN operations, designed to impose "progressively escalating pressure" upon the North, and initiated on a small and essentially ineffective scale in February. The active U.S. role in the few covert operations that were carried out was limited essentially to planning, equipping, and training of the GVN forces involved, but U.S. responsibility for the launching and conduct of these activities was unequivocal and carried with it an implicit symbolic and psychological intensification of the U.S. commitment. South Vietnam and Kennedy The Kennedy administration efforts to contain North Vietnam occured simultaneously with an effort to modernize the regime of the South. Kennedy strongly believed that if South Vietnam was a stable and democratic country, it would largely discredit the North and its Communist rhetoric. Aid to the South was often made on the condition that the government would undertake certain political reforms. Soon, US Government advisors were playing a prominent role in every level of South Vietnam's government. South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem had little time for these reforms, and was quite uncooperative. He would often go through the motions of these US-prescribed reforms, but in very superficial ways that ended up quite embarrassing for the US. For example, when he ran for election, only one opposition candidate was allowed, and there were widespread allegations of vote-rigging. Diem did not believe that US ideas of democracy were applicable to his government, since the country was still so young and unstable. Kennedy was accused of being overly naive and utopian in his belief that US values could be instantly imported into any country, no matter what their culture or history. Eventually, the Kennedy administration grew increasingly frustrated with Diem. In an embarrassing incident that was widely reported in the US press, Diem's forces launched a violent crackdown on Buddhist monks. Since Vietnam was a predominantly Buddhist nation, this action was viewed as further proof that Diem was completely out of touch with his people. US messages were sent to South Vietnamese generals encouraging them to act against Diem's excesses. Though there is some debate as to whether or not this was Kennedy's intention, the South Vietnamese military interpreted these messages as a call to arms, and staged a violent coup d'etat, overthrowing and killing Diem. Far from uniting the country under new leaderhip, the death of Diem made the South even more unstable. The new military rulers were very unexperienced in political matters, and were unable to provide the strong central authority of Diem's rule. Coups and counter-coups plauged the country, which in turn served as a great inspiration to the efforts of the North. Shortly after Diem's death, Kennedy himself was assassinated, and Vice President Lyndon Johnson was suddenly thrust into the war's leadership role. Gulf of Tonkin and Johnson On July 31, 1964, and after a six month suspension, the American destroyer USS Maddox, began a reconnaissance mission in the Gulf of Tonkin. The purpose of the mission was to obtain information about the North Vietnamese coastal defense forces. The night before the USS Maddox was to resume her patrols off the North Vietnamese coast, South Vietnamese commandos raided two North Vietnamese islands. Apparently mistaking the Maddox for South Vietnamese, three North Vietnamese torpedo boats launched a torpedo and machine gun attack on her. Responding immediately to the attack, and with the help of air support from the nearby carrier USS Ticonderoga, the Maddox destroyed one of the attacking boats and damaged the other two. The Maddox, suffering only superficial damage by a single 14.5-millimeter machine gun bullet, retired to South Vietnamese waters, where she was joined by the USS C. Turner Joy. On August 3, GVN again attacked North Vietnam; the Rhon River estuary and the Vinh Sonh radar installation were bombarded under cover of darkness. On August 4, a new DESOTO patrol to North Vietnam coast was launched, with the Maddox and the C. Turner Joy. The latter got radar signals that they believed to be another attack by the North Vietnamese. For some two hours the ships fired on radar targets and maneuvered vigorously amid electronic and visual reports of torpedoes. Later, Captain John J. Herrick admitted that it was nothing more than an "overeager sonarman" who "was hearing ship's own propeller beat." The U.S. Senate then approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on August 7, 1964, which gave broad support to President Johnson to escalate U.S. involvement in the war. On March 8, 1965, 3,500 United States Marines became the first American combat troops to land in South Vietnam and by 1968, over 500,000 troops were stationed there, and the toll of American soldiers killed, as reported every Thursday on the evening news, was over 100 a week. The air war escalated as well; On July 24, 1965, four F-4C Phantoms escorting a bombing raid at Kang Chi became the targets of antiaircraft missiles in the first such attack against American planes in the war. One plane was shot down and the other three sustained damage. Four days later Johnson announced another order that increased the number of US troops in Vietnam from 75,000 to 125,000. The day after that, July 29, the first 4,000 101st Airborne Division paratroopers arrived in Vietnam, landing at Cam Ranh Bay. Then on August 18, 1965, Operation Starlite began as the first major American ground battle of the war when 5,500 US Marines destroyed a Viet Cong stronghold on the Van Tuong peninsula in Quang Ngai Province. The Marines were tipped-off by a Viet Cong deserter who said that there was an attack planned against the US base at Chu Lai. On October 12, 1967 US Secretary of State Dean Rusk stated during a news conference that proposals by the United States Congress for peace initiatives were futile because of North Vietnam's opposition. The continued escalation of American involvement came as the Johnson administration, as well as the commander of U.S. forces, General William Westmoreland, repeatedly assured the American public that the next round of troop increases would bring victory. The American public's faith in the "light at the end of the tunnel" was shattered, however, on January 30, 1968, when the enemy, supposedly on the verge of collapse, mounted the Tet Offensive (named after Tet Nguyen Dan, the lunar new year festival which is the most important Vietnamese holiday) in South Vietnam (and, to a lesser degree, in the 1969 Post-Tet Offensive). Although neither of these offensives accomplished any military objectives, the surprising capacity of an enemy that was supposedly on the verge of collapse to even launch such an offensive convinced many Americans that victory was impossible. There was an increasing sense among many people that the government was misleading the American people about a war without a clear beginning or end. When General Westmoreland called for still more troops to be sent to Vietnam, Clark Clifford, a member of Johnson's own cabinet, came out against the war. Facing a troop shortage, on October 14, 1968 the United States Department of Defense announced that the United States Army and Marines would be sending about 24,000 troops back to Vietnam for involuntary second tours. Two weeks later on October 31, citing progress with the Paris peace talks, US President Lyndon B. Johnson announced to his nation that he had ordered a complete cessation of "all air, naval, and artillery bombardment of North Vietnam" effective November 1. Peace talks eventually broke down, however. The credibility of the government suffers when the New York Times, and later the Washington Post an others newspapers, start to publish the Pentagon Papers. It was a top-secret historical study, contracted by the Pentagon, about the war, that shows how the government was misleading the US public, in all stages of the war, including the secret support of the French in the first Vietnam War. Opposition to the War There had been a small movement of opposition to the war within certain quarters of the United States starting in 1964, especially on certain college campuses. This was happening during a time of unprecedented leftist student activism, and of the arrival at college age of the demographically significant "Baby Boomers." World War II ended in 1945, and the Korean conflict ended in 1953; thus most, if not all, of the "Baby Boomers" had never been exposed to war. In addition, the Vietnam War was unprecedented for the intensity of media coverage--it has been called the first television war--as well as for the stridency of opposition to the war by the so-called "New Left." The international opinion condemn the US intervention in Vietnam, with massive rallies in almost all countries. Many young men feared being sent to Vietnam, and hundreds of them fled to Canada or Sweden to avoid the draft. At that time, not all men of draft age were actually conscripted; the Selective Service Board used a lottery system to select draftees. Some men found sympathetic doctors who could find a medical basis for classifying as 4F, making them ineligible to be drafted. Others took advantage of a student deferment. Still others joined the National Guard (as President George W. Bush) or entered the Peace Corps as a way of avoiding Vietnam. All of these issues raised concerns about the fairness of who got selected for combat, since it was often the poor or those without connections who were assigned to combat units. The draft itself also initiated protests when on October 15, 1965 the student-run National Coordinating Committee to End the War in Vietnam staged the first public burning of a draft card in the United States. The US people became polarized over the war. Many supporters of the war argued for what was known as the Domino Theory, which held that if the South fell to communist guerillas, other nations, primarily in Southeast Asia, would succumb in short succession, much like falling dominoes. Military critics of the war pointed out that the conflict was political and that the military mission lacked clear objectives. Civilian critics of the war argued that the government of South Vietnam lacked political legitimacy, and that support for the war was immoral. The growing anti-war movement alarmed many in the US government. On August 16, 1966 the House Un-American Activities Committee began investigations of Americans who were suspected of aiding the Viet Cong, with the intent to introduce legislation making these activities illegal. Anti-war demonstrators disrupted the meeting and 50 were arrested. On February 1, 1968, a suspected Viet Cong officer was summarily executed by Nguyen Ngoc Loan, a South Vietnamese National Police Chief. Loan shot the suspect in the head on a public street in front of journalists. The execution was filmed and photographed and helped sway public opinion in the United States against the war. Then on October 15, 1969 hundreds of thousands of people took part in National Moratorium antiwar demonstrations across the United States. The U.S. realized that the South Vietnamese government needed a solid base of popular support if it was to survive the insurgency. In order to pursue this goal of "winning the hearts and minds" of the Vietnamese people, units of the United States Army, referred to as "Civil Affairs" units, were extensively utilized for the first time since World War II. Civil Affairs units, while remaining armed and under direct military control, engaged in what came to be known as "nation building": constructing (or reconstructing) schools, public buildings, roads and other physical infrastructure; conducting medical programs for civilians who had no access to medical facilities; facilitating cooperation among local civilian leaders; conducting hygiene and other training for civilians; and similar activities. This policy of attempting to win the "Hearts and Minds" of the Vietnamese people, however, often was at odds with other aspects of the war which served to antagonize many Vietnamese civilians. These policies included the emphasis on "body count" as a way of measuring military success on the battlefield, the bombing of villages (symbolized by the phrase "it was necessary to destroy the village in order to save it"), and the killing of civilians as such locations as in the My Lai massacre. In 1974 the documentary "Hearts and Minds" dealt with these problems, and won an Academy Award for best documentary amid considerable controversy. The South Vietnamese government also antagonized many of its citizens with its suppression of political opposition, through such measures as holding large numbers of political prisoners, torturing political opponents, and holding a one-man election for President in 1971. Despite the increasingly depressing news on the war, many Americans continued to support President Johnson's endeavors. Aside from the domino theory mentioned above, there was a feeling that the goal of preventing a communist takeover of a pro-Western government in South Vietnam was a noble objective. Many Americans were also concerned about saving face in the event of disengaging from the war or, as President Nixon later put it, "achieving Peace with Honor." However, anti-war feelings also began to rise. Many Americans opposed the war on moral grounds, seeing it as a destructive war against Vietnamese independence, or as intervention in a foreign civil war; others opposed it because they felt it lacked clear objectives and appeared to be unwinnable. Some anti-war activists were themselves Vietnam Veterans, as evidenced by the organization Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson began his [Image:vietnamdem.jpg] re-election campaign. A member of his own party, Eugene McCarthy, ran against him for Anti-Vietnam war demonstration the nomination on an antiwar platform. McCarthy did not win the first primary election in New Hampshire, but he did surprisingly well against an incumbent. The resulting blow to the Johnson campaign, taken together with other factors, led the President to make a surprise announcement in a March 31 televised speech that he was pulling out of the race. He also announced the initiation of the Paris Peace Talks with Vietnam in that speech. Then on August 4, 1969 US representative Henry Kissinger and North Vietnamese representative Xuan Thuy began secret peace negotiations at the apartment of French intermediary Jean Sainteny in Paris. The negotiations eventually failed, however. Seizing the opportunity caused by Johnson's departure from the race, Robert Kennedy then joined in and ran for the nomination on an antiwar platform. Johnson's vice president, Hubert Humphrey, also ran for the nomination, promising to continue to support the South Vietnamese government. Kennedy was assassinated that summer, and McCarthy was unable to overcome Humphrey's support within the party elite. Humphrey won the nomination of his party, and ran against Richard Nixon in the general election. During the campaign, Nixon has been said to have claimed knowledge of a secret plan to end the war; this did not actually occur. His opponent for G.O.P. nomination, Gov. George Romney of Michigan, asked him "Where is your secret plan?" It has since been accepted that Nixon claimed to have a secret plan. Opposition to the Vietnam War in Australia followed along similar lines to the United States, particularly with opposition to conscription. Whilst Australian disengagement began in 1970 under John Gorton, it was not until the election of Gough Whitlam in 1972 that conscription ended. Vietnamization Nixon was elected President and began his policy of slow disengagement from the war. The goal was to gradually build up the South Vietnamese Army so that it could fight the war on its own. This policy became the cornerstone of the so-called "Nixon Doctrine." As applied to Vietnam, the doctrine was called "Vietnamization." The goal of Vietnamization was to enable the South Vietnamese army to increasingly hold its own against the NLF and the North Vietnamese Army. During this period, the United States conducted a gradual troop withdrawal from Vietnam. Nixon continued to use air power to bomb the enemy, and American soldiers continued to die in combat. Ultimately, more American soldiers died, and more bombs were dropped, under the Nixon Presidency than under Johnson's. Many significant gains in the war were made under the Nixon administration, however. One paticularly significant achievement was the weakening of support that the North Vietnamese army received from the Soviet Union and China. One of Nixon's main foreign policy goals had been the achievement of a "breakthrough" in relations between the two nations, in terms of creating a new spirit of co-operation. To a large extent this was achieved, and through his many meetings with the leaders of the two Communist superpowers Nixon was able to convince them that North Vietnam was clearly the loosing side in the war. China and the USSR had been the principle backers of the North Vietnamese army through large amounts of military and financial support. The eagerness of both nations to improve their own US relations in the face of a widening breakdown of the inter-Communist alliance successfully led to the weakening of aid to North Vietnam. The morality of US conduct of the war continued to be an issue under the Nixon Presidency. In 1969, it came to light that Lt. William Calley, a platoon Leader in Vietnam, had led a massacre of Vietnamese civilians (including small children) at My Lai a year before. The massacre was only stopped after two American soldiers in a helicopter spotted the carnage and intervened to prevent their fellow Americans from killing any more civilians. Although many were appalled by the wholesale slaughter at My Lai, Calley was given a light sentence after his court-martial in 1970, and was later pardoned by President Nixon. In 1970, Nixon ordered a military incursion into Cambodia in order to destroy NLF sanctuaries bordering on South Vietnam. This action prompted even more protests on American college campuses. Several students were shot to death by National Guard troops during demonstrations at Kent State. One effect of the incursion was to push communist forces deeper into Cambodia, which destabilized the country and which in turn may have led to the rise of the Khmer Rouge, who seized power in 1975. The goal of the attacks, however, was to bring the North Vietnamese negotiators back to the table with some flexibility in their demands that the South Vietnamese government be overthrown as part of the agreement. It was also alleged that American and South Vietnamese casualty rates were reduced by the destruction of military supplies the communists had been storing in Cambodia. In an effort to help assuage growing discontent over the war, Nixon announced on October 12, 1970 that the United States will withdraw 40,000 more troops before Christmas. Later that month on October 30, the worst monsoon to hit Vietnam in six years caused large floods, killed 293, left 200,000 homeless and virtually halted the war. Backed by American air and artillery support, South Vietnamese troops invaded Laos on February 13, 1971. Then on August 18 of that year, Australia and New Zealand decided to withdraw their troops from Vietnam. The total number of American troops in Vietnam then dropped to a record low of 196,700 on October 29, 1971 (the lowest level since January 1966). In the 1972 election, the war was once again a major issue in the United States. An antiwar candidate, George McGovern, ran against President Nixon. Nixon's Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, declared that "Peace is at Hand" shortly before the voters went to the polls, dealing a death blow to McGovern's campaign, which had been facing an uphill battle. However, the peace agreement was not signed until the next year, leading many to conclude that Kissinger's announcement was just a political ploy. Kissinger's defenders assert that the North Vietnamese negotiators had made use of Kissinger's pronouncement as an opportunity to embarrass the Nixon Administration to weaken it at the negotiation table. The US did halt heavy bombing of North Vietnam on December 30, 1972. The End of the War On January 15, 1973, citing progress in peace negotiations, President Nixon announced the suspension of offensive action in North Vietnam which was later followed by a unilateral withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam. The Paris Peace Accords were later signed on January 27, 1973 which officially ended US involvement in the Vietnam conflict. The first American prisoners of war were released on February 11 and all US soldiers were ordered to leave by March 29. Unlike previous American wars, soldiers returning from the Vietnam War were not treated as heroes, and soldiers were sometimes even condemned for their participation in the war. The peace agreement did not last. Although Nixon had promised South Vietnam that he would provide military support to them in the event of a crumbling military situation, Congress voted down any further funding of military actions in the region. Nixon was also fighting for his political life in the growing Watergate scandal, so none of the promised military support to defend the South Vietnamese government was forthcoming. Although some small amounts of economic aid continued, most of it was siphoned off by corrupt elements in the South Vietnamese government and little of it actually went to the war effort. The 94th Congress eventually voted for a total cut off of all aid to take effect at the beginning of the 1975-76 financial year (July 1, 1975). At the same time aid to North Vietnam from the USSR and China began to increase, as with the Americans out, the two countries no longer saw the war significant to their US relations. The balance of power had clearly shifted to the North. In early 1975 the North invaded the South and quickly consolidated the country under its control. Saigon was captured on April 30, 1975. North Vietnam united both North and South Vietnam on July 2, 1976 to form the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Saigon was re-named Ho Chi Minh City in honor of the former president of North Vietnam. Hundreds of supporters of the South Vietnamese government were rounded up and executed, many more were imprisoned. Communist rule continues to this day. On January 21, 1977 American President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all Vietnam War draft evaders. Casualties Estimating the number killed in the conflict is extremely difficult. Official records are hard to find or nonexistent and many of those killed were literally blasted to pieces by bombing. For many years the North Vietnamese suppressed the true number of their casualties for propaganda purposes. It is also difficult to say exactly what counts as a "Vietnam war casualty"; people are still being killed today by unexploded ordinance, particularly cluster bomblets. Environmental effects from chemical agents and the colossal social problems caused by a devastated country with so many dead surely caused many more lives to be shortened. In addition, the Khmer Rouge would probably not have come into power and committed their slaughters without the destabilization of the war, particularly of the American bombing campaigns to 'clear out the sanctuaries' in Cambodia. The lowest casualty estimates, based on the now-renounced North Vietnamese statements, are around 1.5 million Vietnamese killed. Vietnam released figures on April 3, 1995 that a total of one million Vietnamese combatants and four million civilians were killed in the war. The accuracy of these figures has generally not been challenged. 58,226 American soldiers also died in the war or are missing in action. Australia lost almost 500 of the 47,000 troops they had deployed to Vietnam and New Zealand lost 38 soldiers. In the aftermath of the war many Americans came to believe that some of the 2,300 American soldiers listed as "Missing in Action" had in fact been taken prisoner by the DRV and held indefinitely. "Missing in Action" is a term applied to missing soldiers whose status cannot be determined through eyewitness accounts of their death, or a body. While little credible evidence has been shown for this, images of tortured, emaciated prisoners of war (notably in the sequel to Rambo) continue to evoke anger among many Americans. The Vietnamese list over 200,000 of their own soldiers Missing in Action, and MIA soldiers from World War I and II continue to be unearthed in Europe. Both during and after the war, significant human rights violations occurred. Both North and South Vietnamese had large numbers of political prisoners, many of whom were killed or tortured. In 1970, two American congressmen visiting South Vietnam discovered the existence of "tiger cages", which were small prison cells used for torturing South Vietnamese political prisoners. After the war, actions taken by the victors in Vietnam, including firing squads, torture, concentration camps and "re-education," led to the exodus of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. Many of these refugees fled by boat and thus gave rise to the phrase "boat people." They emigrated to Hong Kong, France, the United States, Canada, and other countries, creating sizable expatriate communities, notably in the United States. Many effects of the animosity and ill will generated during the Vietnam War are still felt today among those who lived through this turbulent time in American and Indochinese history. Analysis The Vietnam war had many long term repercussions, especially for the American society and foreign policy. Firstly, the war was America's first significant military defeat. This was very damaging for America's reputation as a global superpower, which had previously seemed almost invincible. The massive American casualties and lack of a decisive victory also created a great distaste for foreign wars among the American public. Indeed, not until the Gulf War, nearly 15 years later, would the United States commit comparable amounts of troops to fight in a foreign country. Politically, the war's poor planning and "blank check" legislation led to Congress reviewing current terms of war, and passing new legislation to guarantee themselves a larger, and more clearly defined role in the planning of any future Vietnam-style conflicts. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 greatly curtailed the President's ability to commit troops to action without first obtaining Congressional approval. The use of the defoliation agent known as Agent Orange, designed to destroy the hiding places of the Viet Cong, has caused many health maladies and birth defects to this day. From a social point of view, the war was a key time in the lives of many younger Americans, especially the so-called baby boom generation. Protestor and soldier alike, the war created many strong opinions in regards to American foreign policy and the justness of war. As a result, the Vietnam was also significant in showing the degree that the public can influence government policy through mobilization and protest. Service in the war, though initially unpopular, soon became respected even though the war itself was not. Past service in Vietnam became important to the election of many future American politicians; for example, it was a factor in the election of John McCain, a former Vietnam POW, to the US Senate. The fact that President Bill Clinton had avoided service was a major source of controversy during his election campaign. After taking office, Bill Clinton announced his desire to heal relations with Vietnam. His administration lifted economic sanctions on the country in 1994, and in May 1995 the two nations renewed diplomatic relations, with the US opening up an embassy on Vietnamese soil for the first time since 1975.