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America and Vietnam: The Unending War

Courtesy Reuters

By God, we've kicked the Vietnam syndrome once and for all!" So said President George Bush in a euphoric victory statement at the end of the Gulf War, suggesting the extent to which Vietnam continued to prey on the American psyche more than fifteen years after the fall of Saigon. Indeed the Vietnam War was by far the most convulsive and traumatic of America's three wars in Asia in the 50 years since Pearl Harbor. It set the U.S. economy on a downward spiral. It left America's foreign policy at least temporarily in disarray, discrediting the postwar policy of containment and undermining the consensus that supported it. It divided the American people as no other event since their own Civil War a century earlier. It battered their collective soul.

Such was the lingering impact of the Vietnam War that the Persian Gulf conflict appeared at times as much a struggle

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