The socialist republic of Vietnam had a war within its borders, putting its north against south. The north eventually won it in 1975, but at the time, the country was already politically isolated. However, following efforts by the government to institute both political and economic reforms since 1986, the country has made important milestones in this endeavor.

Vietnam is a one-party state where the government has an official commitment to socialism although it seems to be shifting to capitalism. The United State’s, in an independent audit into Vietnam in 2004, classified its human rights record as ‘poor’. In addition, the country is ranked 128 in terms of democracy by world audit and 133 in terms of press freedom. Out of the 150 countries ranked, Vietnam is considered among the least democratic countries.

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The major economic activity for Vietnam is agriculture and particularly the growth of wet rice. The government operated a planned economy for farmers which began with the collection of farms under a government program. After a decade under this program, little had been achieved as it was plagued by corruption and inefficiency. It also suffered due to the embargos against it placed by development partners.

The country’s GDP had been growing at 8% between 1990 and 1997, then at 7% between 2000 and 2005, owing the growth in a shift to a free market economy whose emphasis was on private ownership of agricultural, commercial and industrial firms. This kind of growth, which is one of the highest in the world, according to the statistics, could only be realized with minimal government control of the economy.

However, government control does not always limit development. In china, a developed country, the government operates a centrally planned economy with good results. On the other hand a study of Myanmar’s economy asserts that it has largely been curtailed by the reluctance of the government opening the doors to free the market (Okamoto et al 3).

Draper and Ramsey (7) define a good society as “one that satisfies the greatest good for the greatest number”. According to Nobel laureate Amartya Sen and Martha Naussbaum, meeting physical needs, physical safety insurance, informed decision making and presence of political and civil rights are the major factors for consideration in deciding whether human life is good or otherwise. A ‘good’ human life, they claim, is the cornerstone to a good society.

In determining whether Vietnam is a good society or not, several factors have to be considered. The most important of these factors is Human Development. A transformational index study done by Stiftung in 2010, puts Vietnam at position 114 out of the 128 surveyed in terms of democracy, 59 in the market economy category and 66 using the management index. On average, the country was position 78 out of 128. On a scale of 1 to 10, therefore, Vietnam ranks 4.

While Vietnam performs well in her economic endeavors, improvement in democracy is needed. The government would do well by adhering to the recommendations made by UN member states that require it to cease detention and mistreatment of democracy advocates, certain religious groups, human rights activists and the use of capital punishment and torture on government critics.

Other recommendations rejected by the Vietnamese government include the lifting of a ban on internet controls, legalizing privately owned media houses, allowing peaceful displays of dissent, reviewing the clauses on religious freedoms and abolishing the death sentence. These are the impediments which curtail the progression of Vietnam and its assimilation into the existing global village.

On the same scale, Nigeria ranks 5 and Iran ranks 3. This is because Nigeria scores averagely both in terms of its economy and democracy, according to the same study whereas Iran is subject to many international barriers due to their insistence on having a nuclear program.


For a country to constitute a good society, its citizens must find it easy to live in it rather than somewhere else. Political institutions which are the major policy makers must therefore formulate policies which are favorable for the easy transaction of business otherwise the country is doomed to fail and subject itself to barriers which the international community will erect for it.

Works cited

Draper, Alan and Ramsay, Ansil. The Good Society. New York: Longman Publishers, 2008

Okamoto, Ikuko, et al. Rich periphery, Poor Centre: Myanmar’s Rural Economy under Partial Transition to Market Economy. Tokyo: Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University, 2003

Stiftung, Bertelsmann. “Vietnam Country Report”, Strategies of Development and Transformation (2010). April 12, 2011


In the early 1960s, North Vietnam wished to unify North and South Vietnam
through military force. Since the United States feared the spread of communism in Asia,
John F. Kennedy provided economic and military aid to South Vietnam to prevent the
takeover by North Vietnam. At this time, this was still a civil war. The United States
were not yet officially involved.
The North Vietnamese resented this intervention by the United Sates and so, three
Vietnamese torpedo boats fired on the U.S. destroyer, Maddox on August 2nd, 1964.

The Maddox had been in the Gulf of Tonkin ( international waters ), thirty miles off
the coast of Vietnam. On August 3rd, 1964, President Johnson gave the right to attack
with the objective of destroying attacking forces . Retaliation air attacks began on
August 3rd. Their aim was to destroy North Vietnam’s gunboat capability. As two more
United States destroyers were supposedly sunk, more air and sea forces were sent. Up
until now, the U.S. had refrained from direct combat. This is when the United States
formally entered the Vietnam War. The U.S. did this for two reasons. We wished to
maintain the independence of South Vietnam and we had to prove to allied nations that
we would help them resist Communist takeover. As Congress was about to vote whether
or not to allow the combat to move into North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese attacked a
major U.S. airbase at Bein Hoa. On February 7th, 1965, Johnson ordered retaliation
bombing on North Vietnam. Rolling Thunder was the name of this operation. It’s purpose
was to put pressure on Hanoi and convince them that Communism could not and would
not win.

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At the end of 1965, one hundred and eighty thousand Americans were in South
Vietnam under General William S. Westmoreland. The U.S. mainly depended on
superior firepower and helicopters. The Viet Cong and North Vietnamese depended on
surprise attack and concealment.

The United States soldiers realized that the war would last for many more years
and wondered if the U.S. war effort could succeed. At the end of 1968, The number of
American troops in South Vietnam reached it’s peak of 542,000 men. The Viet Cong and
North Vietnamese launched a major invasion against the United States called the Tet
offensive from January 30th to February 25th, 1968. At the Khe Sanh U.S. firebase, there
was a major ground battle. There was a siege from January 21st to April 14th. It was
thought to be the American Dien Bien Phu . The United States turned it around
however, with their victory at Hue. By 1969, combat decreased rapidly and American
troops began to return home.

The role of Communism was extremely important in this conflict. Communism
was one of the main reasons of why the United States entered the war in the first place.

The U.S. had to enter the war to stop the spread of Communism in Asia since North
Vietnam was Communist. Had North Vietnam succeeded in converting Vietnam into a
Communist country, it could become very powerful and go on to persuade other
countries to become Communist. The U.S. believed that Vietnam could become
powerful. They were amazed that France, an Allied power, had been beaten by the

North Vietnam was a Communist country. The man who had proclaimed
Vietnam independent, Ho Chi Minh, was a Communist. During the war with the French,
Ho Chi Minh took refuge in northern Vietnam and settled there with his followers. He
founded the Indochina Communist Party and the Viet Minh. He became the president of
North Vietnam from 1945 to 1969. North Vietnam was a poor area and was cut off from
the agricultural benefit of South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh was forced to ask assistance
from major Communist allies – the Soviet Union and China. Both aided North Vietnam
before and during the war.
The North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam. They wanted to use military
tactics to force unification. The United States did not allow their unification. The U.S.

knew that the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese wished to establish one ruling
government, the Communist Party. This led to the Vietnam War and U.S. intervention.

On January 27th, 1973, South Vietnam Communist forces ( Viet Cong ), North
Vietnam, South Vietnam and the United States agreed on many things during the Paris
peace talks. The talks lasted over two years before any agreements were made that suited
all of them. The forces involved agreed that U.S. troops would gradually withdraw from
Vietnam and all prisoners of war would be released. They also agreed that South
Vietnam had the right to choose their own future, whether or not to unite with North
Vietnam. North Vietnamese troops were given the right to remain in South Vietnam but
they could not be reinforced. President Nixon finalized the accepted treaty and began to
remove United States troops.

After the peace talks, fighting continued between the North and South
Vietnamese. North Vietnam went against all that was outlined at the peace talks after the
majority of American soldiers left.

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