February 12, 2006
Written by C.N.
A recent article from the Christian Science Monitor describes bilateral efforts between the U.S. and Viet Nam to strengthen not only economic, but also military ties between the two former enemies, mostly in an effort to offset the rise of China as a global superpower:
Vietnam has agreed to send Army officers on a US training program, and has hosted US warships at its ports. Last year, after Prime Minister Phan Van Khai made a state visit to Washington, the two sides agreed to share intelligence on terrorism, drugs, and other transnational threats.
Vietnam is also considering joining UN peacekeeping operations as a prelude to seeking a non-permanent seat on the security council. Hanoi last year sent a joint military-civilian delegation to Haiti to observe the UN mission there, according to a senior Western diplomat, and has agreed to commit to international peacekeeping “when circumstances allow.” . . .
“For Vietnam to step forward [on security cooperation], they have to step forward in two directions. They don’t want to be roped into a US containment policy towards China…. They want the US to remain engaged [in Asia], but they don’t want to get too close,” says Carl Thayer, a veteran Vietnam-watcher at the Australian Defense Force Academy.
Vietnam’s balancing act is echoed by other Southeast Asian countries that want to share in the benefits of China’s economic rise without losing sight of the disquiet it provokes among US policymakers who are suspicious of Beijing’s military buildup.
International geo-politics at its best — the U.S. and Viet Nam both “using” each other to offset China’s increasing power and potential for domination on the international stage. Whatever the motivations, I can see how this developing relationship might result in positive outcomes for both sides, and for Asian Americans.
That is, the U.S. gets another “friend” in Asia and trade continues to grow between the two countries, which will hopefully serve to improve the overall quality of life in Viet Nam. Viet Nam gets to elevate its global status somewhat and in the process of participating in more regional and international activities, may actually facilitate less political repression at home.
And finally, warmer relations between the two countries may reflect well on Vietnamese Americans (and by implication, many Asian Americans) as allies within the U.S. That being said, international relations can be prone to sudden changes and instability, so nobody should take anything for granted at this point.
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Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Closer Ties Between U.S. & Viet Nam" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2006/02/closer-ties-between-us-viet-nam/> ().
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