The portrayal of the Americans as guilty of war crimes at the war remnants museum was not surprising to me at all and was something that I had prepared myself for. I fully understand and accept that people have that point of view, and I do not blame them for having it. I felt very angry during my tour of the museum at the sheer arrogance of the American policy makers who decided to send America to war. They had such faith in themselves, their ability to predict the future and in their ability to know what was best for the Vietnamese and the United States. There were of course a myriad of domestic political factors which add a layer of complexity to their decision, but the decision to wage such a costly war with no regard for the people of Vietnam is very frustrating.
One of the surprising parts of the museum was that the Vietnamese people see the atrocities and remnants of the war yet still hold such a high opinion of the United States. There are surely Vietnamese who dislike America as there are in every country, but the vast majority of Vietnamese I interact with and the businesses I have seen show a deep admiration and respect for America despite all the atrocities of war. The welcome attitude of the UEF towards Americans is well understood by all on this trip, but the admiration of Vietnamese in general can be seen on the streets with United States businesses, clothing, and other aspects of American culture all over the place. The McDonalds that we went to for lunch was a good example of their admiration for American culture, especially because of the enthusiasm the Vietnamese had for the opening day of the McDonalds.
Why the Vietnamese have this view is confusing and I hope to discover more about it as the trip continues. One guess is that they view the American people and culture as separate from their government, and blame the US government for the war, but not its people. The extensive amount of coverage of the Vietnamese war protests in America at the museum, particularly the dead college student at the Kent State protest, might convince the Vietnamese that the American people were on their side the entire time and that it was just the government waging war.