Left Behind:

Cinematic Revisions of the Vietnam POW


   In 1994 former President William Clinton lifted the trade embargo against Vietnam and in 1995 he established diplomatic relations with Hanoi. Warren Christopher undertook the first official visit by a United States Secretary of State since 1970. trade deal 2000 Former President William Jefferson ClintonFocusing on U.S.-Vietnam trade relations, the White House stated "that the decision to pursue the trade agreement was made after Vietnam had established a record of cooperation in accounting for the POW-MIA in 1998." Clinton, the draft dodger, will be likely to go down in history as the U.S. president to have closed the last symbolic chapter of the Vietnam War. On July 13, 2000 the United States government announced it would be giving 1.7 million in aid to Vietnam. Clinton stated that "from the bitter past, we plant the seeds of a better future" in his press conference outlining the US-Vietnam bilateral trade agreement.

   Over the past twenty-five years POW films have reflected America's need to heal from a war that included so much government duplicity. The contemporary film portrayals of POW and MIAs provided a way for Americans to re-write the outcome of the war. Somehow rescuing POWs in film meant that we had symbolically won the war. Since 1992 and the end of the United States Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs, POW films have been practically non-existent. Hollywood has gone on to other "hot" topics. The lack of films reflects the lack of cultural interest in this issue. We moved from fearing the former POW to cheering Rambo to seeing what "really" happened to POWs in prison.

    Now it was to time to listen to the Senate Select Committee's final statement and move on, some would say. The final step of normalizing relations with Vietnam will help us finally let go of the old war wounds. The government is trying to leave this all behind us as a nation and let us finally heal. But others say that for former President William Clinton to open the door on one economic opportunity, he had to close the door on getting any final accounting.