Why Vietnam is Important
Vietnam is a country in Southeast Asia that became a focus of world attention during the 1960s and 1970s when two Vietnams were at war. This war was part of the global Cold War between the Communist and the anti-Communist camps. At the same time, it was a civil war between the North Vietnamese and the South Vietnamese over different visions of the societies they wanted to build for themselves and their children. This war re-shaped not only the lives of Vietnamese but also influenced perceptions that both Americans and other peoples in the world held of the United States and of its role in the world. But this war did not ultimately define the country that is called Vietnam. I will discuss historical examples in contexts during many centuries to demonstrate the importance of the Vietnamese people in regional Southeast Asian and East Asian histories, and how the various incarnations of Vietnam as a country reflect a diversity of national formations. I will demonstrate that the name aim to debunk several myths that have for a long time propagated fashionable and widespread understandings of the country.