COVID perspectives from abroad

Why Have We Forgotten Vietnam So Easily?

Three failings of America in fighting invisible enemies (both then and now)

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“Hello! Where are you from?” he asked, his expression warm.

“How are things in your country?” my new friend asked, looking genuinely concerned.

“Capitalism and communism are very different,” he commented. “They both have positives and negatives. Capitalism is good for many things but not for war.”

While the moral context of America’s war with Vietnam and its war with COVID-19 are very different, there are three similar failings from both conflicts that are telling:

1. America’s lack of leadership:

“As American casualties mounted and news filtered back home that the war was not going nearly as well as the White House had been claiming, the public’s faith in [the president] began to wane. Politicians and journalists described a “credibility gap” — the space between the president’s assertions and the facts on the ground. Skepticism eventually gave way to disillusionment with the presidency itself.” — Ken Burns & Lynn Novick

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Source

“If fighting COVID-19 has been a war, then we have won the first round but not the entire war because the situation can be very unpredictable,” — Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Vu Duc Dam

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“We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work… but they get better” — President Donald Trump

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Graphic created by the author

2. America’s lack of understanding:

“With experience gained from dealing with the 2003 SARS and 2009 H1N1 pandemics, Vietnam’s government started organizing its response in January — as soon as reports began trickling in from Wuhan, China… The country quickly came up with a variety of tactics, including widespread quarantining and aggressive contact tracing.” — NPR

“If phased reductions of social distancing measures are not carried out, there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak you may not be able to control… It would almost turn the clock back rather than going forward.” — Anthony Fauci, MD

3. America’s lack of unity:

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Vietnam War protests — Source
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COVID-19 protests — Source

“In battle, it is good to have one voice, one leader,” my friend explained. “People have to stick together because they have no other choice.”

The biggest difference between the two wars

“I hope things get better for your country soon,” my wise friend said before moving onto his next lap around the track.

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