|"Suspected communists" - Wikipedia|
I've used a lot of quotation marks to point out that the way in which we talk about the "Vietnam war" shapes its meaning for us. To clarify:
There was no North and South Vietnam. There was Vietnam, and a make believe part of it controlled, more or less, by US proxies.
We talk about North Vietnamese Communists and their "allies" in South Vietnam, the "Viet Cong." That's all fairy dust. There was the Vietnamese people, with a legitimate socialist government. There were Vietnamese opportunists, used earlier by the French to run their colonial government and later by the US to try to overthrow the legitimate socialist government.
There was no war, really. There were imperial projects of Capitalists, led first by successive French governments and later by successive US governments, that sought to steal the resources of the Vietnamese people on behalf of western Capitalists. What we call the "War in Vietnam" was simply the Vietnamese people trying to get the Westerners to leave and to get rid of the opportunists.
The "Vietnam" War, As Opposed To?
The US government of course has gone on to wage many wars in the 40 years since. It's now starting them more and more often, so most of them are ongoing. We're not debating those wars, or the underlying crises in Capitalism causing them to be spouting up like weeds, or any of the other wars the US or anybody else has fought on behalf of the rich people who benefit from Capitalism or benefited from the systems that evolved into Capitalism.
All the arguments, the Vietnam syndrome, the ways politicians like Ronald Reagan and George W Bush overcame it, all the labels, all of it, simply serve to obscure what's really going on. This is what happens when you let the rich, and therefore powerful, get in charge of a government or an economy.
Note: The long Wikipedia article "Vietnam War" suffers from the same myopia, caused by rehashing conventional wisdom with an overwhelming Western bias. If you scroll down to the end section Aftermath it's like reading the New York Times articles I write about here, only worse. However, it does have a lot of photos, many of which I've never seen before, that, inadvertently or not, do a pretty good job of telling the other side of the story, the Vietnamese people's side.