The Vietnam War: From the View Point of Realist

Do you know much about what had been going on during the Vietnam War? As many of you know, there were a lot of people who died from this war. As we have learned that it is difficult to collect the data, it is estimated that the total number of the casualties ranges from 1.3 millions to 3.9 millions people. Though the damages of United States were small if you compare with the ones of Vietnam, it still paid a lot of cost for them, for example the less credibility of United States in the role of international world. In this post, I am briefly going to elaborate on why United States came to involve in the Vietnam War and my evaluation about it.

Map: Vietnam after 1954 accords

Even though United States did not seem to have any interest in Vietnam, it persisted in involving in Vietnam War after French retreated from Vietnam. Why did they want to involve the Vietnam War? The answer seems to be easy, because the policy makers in United States was afraid of spreading the Communism. Let’s think about the historical context. In this age, so called the age of “the Cold War”, the international world was a bipolar system, which means that there were two superpowers, United States and Soviet Union, in the world and most countries belonged to each side of polar. Especially, some developing countries seeking the decolonization and the independence from the Western countries, like Vietnam, were divided into 2 groups, people who wanted to adapt Capitalism or Communism, the Republic of Vietnam and Democratic Republic of Vietnam. In terms of the Realist view, United States and Western countries feared the spreading of Communist because they thought their life would have been unsecured if the idea of Communism had spread within the developing countries. If you think from the viewpoint of Realism, it is quite reasonable that United States started the Vietnam War even if they had had to pay a lot of cost.

However, in my opinion, the explanation from Realist is not enough. One of the reasons is that there must have been interactive effects not only of United States to Vietnam, but from Vietnam to United States. For example, it is often stated that Superpowers formed proxy states not to move to another ideology, but it could be said that both groups in Vietnam used the proxy states to topple the other group. In the complexity of the international world, many factors, like their contribution in UN, economies, and the development of technology, should be considered and it is almost impossible to interpret it from one viewpoint.


4 thoughts on “The Vietnam War: From the View Point of Realist

  1. I defiantly agree with your opinion. The realist point of view on the war in Vietnam does not take other factors into consideration. The US could not have only went to Vietnam due to the fact it felt threaten by the spread of Communism.


  2. I agree with your idea that the realist theory by itself is not enough to explain the Vietnam war. As you have written, the one thing we also need to notice is that there is no perfect theory that can expound every circumstance in international politics.

    Anyway, I think it was the Vietnam matter whether Vietnam chose Communism regime or Capitalism, so it was kind of ridiculous for two exterior superpowers to compete with each other so vehemently. We must understand the “peace” during the cold war lay at the sacrifice of other small nations.


  3. I also agree with the idea that realist cannot be stand alone for explaining Vietnam war. In the middle of 19th century, United States and Soviet Union had almost equal power. I can understand the situation that how U.S. was afraid about spreading of communism to not losing their power and Soviet Union wanted spread it to increase their power.


  4. I really like how you are questioning the realist view, stepping outside of expectations for your post. There could have been various reasons for the United States involvement in the Vietnam war and I think it Is important that we look at all of the factors. Your point of view on this is very logical.


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