Vietnam & Cambodia Interim
Legacy of Empire and War
Prof. William Van Vugt will be traveling with students to the main cities and sites where French colonialism and the war with the United States made their deepest impact, including Hanoi, Hue, Hoi An, My Son, Ho Chi Minh City, the Mekong Delta, Phnom Penh, and finally the magnificent site of Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
Besides touring the main historical sites (and taking in the beauty of Vietnam's scenery and culture), students will talk with victims and participants of the conflicts, asking hard questions, and coming face to face with the tragic history of French colonialism and America’s Vietnam War.
Among the questions that students will think about, write about, and discuss in meetings with the Vietnamese and among themselves are—
How did Western culture, including religious and economic institutions, influence Vietnam, and how did that influence contribute to the conflicts?
Was the Vietnam War “winnable”? If the Americans had “stayed the course” and used more military power, would South Vietnam be “free” today? And what would that mean? Was it a “tragic mistake” or a “noble effort”? Does it stand the test of a just-war theory?
To what extent does the Vietnam War offer lessons that might be applied to the current situation in Iraq and Afghanistan? If it does, then what are these lessons?
Do the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq tell us anything about the history and culture of the United States?