Home Institution

Lehigh University

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development


Talking about, and learning lessons from The American War in Vietnam can be a process whose genuine engagement requires a suspension—even if temporary—of moral and cultural biases that are embedded in the Western mindset. This research project is one that composes military strategy, government rhetoric, and very human accounts of war in Vietnam in order to understand how people in Hanoi experience and talk about war, with an ultimate aim of making some of these stories and lessons digestible to a Western audience.

My findings discuss some key components of the North Vietnamese mindset towards the American War in Vietnam: the relevant historical context regarding foreign occupation, patriotism and unity, duty and defense, and some overall effects of attacks and bombs, with a deeper focus on what I found to be the most important aspect: unity. I then compare the picture of this mindset with some respective elements of the U.S American wartime mentality. The ultimate pursuit of this research is increased understanding and diplomacy between nationalities and philosophies, as well as advocacy for human-oriented analysis of international conflicts in general.

This is a project oriented towards epistemology and constructivism. A constructivist approach to studying war is a human approach to studying war, and it is one that helps us to understand the true impact of governmental decisions that might seem distant to us. Analysis of war without adequate attention to the human dimension, at its worst, risks uninformed policy decisions and inaccurate historical analysis.


Asian Studies | International Relations | Military, War, and Peace | Politics and Social Change | Regional Sociology | Social and Cultural Anthropology


Article Location