Lessons From Vietnam the Concept of Cross-Cultural Essay

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Lessons From Vietnam

The concept of cross-cultural capability is a relatively new area of study in the academic world, even though we have known for years that a number of issues might have been better resolved with a greater understanding and sensitive towards other cultures. The term itself applies to human behavior in a number of dimensions -- psychologically, sociologically, certainly political, and cultural. This phenomenon of cultural misunderstanding was quite apparent in the post-World War II conflicts, particularly that of the regional conflicts in Vietnam post-1950 (Killick, 1999).

Many of the diplomatic and cultural issues surrounding the Vietnam Conflict were a result of a Cold War mentality. The Cold War, not really a war, but more a preparation for conflict, was the tensions between the U.S.S.R. And Allies (Warsaw Pact) and the U.S. And Allies (NATO). One side held that America was economically and militarily aggressive after World War II. America, having not been invaded, was economically poised for rapid growth. On the other, many in the West saw the desire for China and the Soviet Union to export world communism as a direct threat to democracies globally. While some believed that the United States wanted to continue the policy of friendliness to the Soviets, negotiating any differences in the United Nations, there was also a clear message sent to the world in 1947, thereafter called the "Truman Doctrine," in which the U.S. policy was set to support the "free" peoples of the world -- and the definition of such be American style democracy (Belmonte, 2010). The 1950s were perhaps the decade filled with the most change for America. America was "rich," and expected to help other countries, but was going through its own crises
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and growing pains socially and economically. Several large trends occurred during the 1950s, the Cold War between the United States and the U.S.S.R. developed, Africa began to be decolonialized throwing the economic and political situation out of balance, the Korean War brought the United States into another global conflict, tensions heated up in Egypt (the Suez Canal Crisis) and Cuba (Castro and the Cuban Revolution), and America went through a turbulent time with Anti-Communist feelings and Senator Joseph McCarthy's accusations and focus on "reds in the State Department" (Hanson, 1998).

In 1950, Communist China and the Soviet Union recognized Hanoi's North Vietnam as the official government for Vietnam. NATO and the U.S. recognized Saigon's South Vietnam. Thus, the line was drawn between the communist supported north and the U.S. supported south. U.S. policy held that every country allowed to "go red" would domino into other countries. Once tensions rose in Korea, the idea of "going red" became even more of a foreign policy issue (Damms, 2002).

This Domino Theory was the major foreign policy focus throughout the 1950s. The President and State Department believed that it was simply a matter of time before the rest of Southeast Asia became puppet states of China and the U.S.S.R. This would, of course, put Japan, India and Oceania at risk (Davidson, 1991). The North was more populist than the South, which had leaders that were corrupt and elitist, in power only because of the West. Add to this the disagreements between President Kennedy and Soviet Premier Khrushchev, and America was poised to send in Special Forces to quell the "brush fire" in Vietnam. Continued escalation and misunderstanding, more and more troops and military buildup kept escalating throughout the 1960s until the final fall of Saigon in April, 1975 -- and the eventual unification of the country under communist rule ("The Vietnam War," 1996).

There are many commonalities between the cultural misunderstanding in…

Sources Used in Documents:


The Vietnam War. (2006). The History Channel. Retrieved from: http://www.history.com / topics/vietnam-war

Belmonte, L. (2010). Selling the American Way -- U.S. Propaganda and the Cold War. Pittsburg, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.

Damms, Richard, (2001), The Eisenhower Presidency, 1953-1961, New York: Longman.

Davidson, P. (1991), Vietnam At War: The History, 1946-1975. New York: Norton.

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