Vietnam Arms Embargo to Be Fully Lifted, Obama Says in Hanoi – The New York Times

HANOI, Vietnam — The United States is rescinding a decades-old ban on sales of lethal military equipment to Vietnam, President Obama announced at a news conference in Hanoi on Monday, ending one of the last legal vestiges of the Vietnam War.

The United States has long made lifting the embargo contingent on Vietnam’s improving its human rights record, and recently administration officials had hinted that the ban could be removed partly in response to China’s buildup in the South China Sea.But Mr. Obama portrayed the decision as part of the long process of normalizing relations between the two countries after the Vietnam War.“The decision to lift the ban was not based on China or any other considerations,” he said, with the Vietnamese president, Tran Dai Quang, standing stiffly by his side. “It was based on our desire to complete what has been a lengthy process of moving toward normalization with Vietnam.

”Mr. Obama insisted that the move should not be interpreted as carte blanche for weapons sales to Vietnam and that the United States would review future arms sales to “examine what’s appropriate and what’s not,” as it does with any country.

As for human rights, he said, “this is an area where we still have differences.”Human rights advocates, who had asked Mr. Obama to hold off on lifting the ban until Vietnam had released some prominent political prisoners and promised to stop the police beatings of protesters, condemned the decision.“President Obama just gave Vietnam a reward that they don’t deserve,” said John Sifton, the Asia policy director of Human Rights Watch.Mr. Quang defended his country’s rights record.“The consistent position and viewpoint of the Vietnamese government is to protect and promote human rights,” he said, adding, “Those achievements have been highly recognized and appreciated by the international community.

”American officials have portrayed lifting the embargo as part of a strategy to help Vietnam defend itself against an increasing threat from China in the South China Sea. Analysts have speculated that in return, Vietnam would grant the United States access to the deepwater port at Cam Ranh Bay.While there were no statements about such a deal on Monday, Mr. Obama did announce new commercial agreements worth more than $16 billion, including one in which Boeing will sell 100 aircraft and Pratt & Whitney will sell 135 advanced aircraft engines to VietJet Air, a privately owned low-cost airline.

Source: Vietnam Arms Embargo to Be Fully Lifted, Obama Says in Hanoi – The New York Times

Posted in: Vietnamese Foreign Policy

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Access to Bay Adds Enticement as U.S. Weighs Lifting Vietnam Embargo, By Jane Perlez – The New York Times

“CAM RANH BAY, Vietnam — The ghosts of the Vietnam War have finally faded at the strategic port of Cam Ranh Bay. More than 40 years ago, United States forces left this massive base where Marines landed, B-52s loaded up for bombing raids, and wounded American soldiers were treated.Now, some Vietnamese say they are yearning for the American military to return.“

On Facebook, there was a question recently: What do you want from President Obama’s visit?” said Vo Van Tao, 63, who fought as a young North Vietnamese infantry soldier against the United States. “Some people said they wanted democracy. I said I wanted the Americans to come back to Cam Ranh Bay. A lot of people agreed with me.”

Mr. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Vietnam on Sunday, the third visit by an American president since the war ended. The big question he is expected to answer is whether Washington will lift a partial arms embargo and allow Vietnam to buy lethal weapons from the United States. The Communist government has long asked for the ban to be revoked, and American access to Cam Ranh Bay could be part of the payoff.For the White House, the decision on lifting the embargo has come down to a debate over trying to improve Vietnam’s poor human rights record versus enabling Vietnam to better defend itself against an increasing threat from China in the South China Sea.”

Source: Access to Bay Adds Enticement as U.S. Weighs Lifting Vietnam Embargo – The New York Times


My comment to the NYT:

David Lindsay

Hamden, CT

Excellent article. I agree with Secretary Ashton Carter, that the US should lift the arms embargo for Vietnam, without requiring them to change their totalitarian ways. We Americans live in a glass house. We have more of our people imprisoned than almost anyone on earth, including the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese need us, and we need them. They have repelled Chinese invasions at least seven times before the 20th century, when they repelled another Chinese invasion in about 1979. Since 937 AD, the Vietnamese have repeatedly contained China from colonizing Southeast Asia.

David Lindsay is about to publish “The Tay Son Rebellion, a historical fiction of Vietnam, 1770-1802.” He also blogs at

Posted in: David Lindsay, Vietnamese Foreign Policy

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Vietnam’s Battle With Tuberculosis – The New York Times

HANOI, VIETNAM — Dr. Bui Xuan Hiep, the head of tuberculosis control in this city’s Hoang Mai district, paged proudly through a large handwritten patient log.“This district’s cure rate averages 90 percent,” he said. Still, Dr. Bui could see problems.Seven patients had turned up with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis; four had been cured, two had died — and one had simply disappeared.It’s a story repeated throughout Vietnam. The nation was once racked by a tuberculosis epidemic, one of the worst in which H.I.V. was not the driving force. But officials fought back fiercely.Twenty-five years ago, battered by the aftermath of a long war, chronic poverty and a heavy-handed government isolated from much of the world, Vietnam had nearly 600 cases of tuberculosis for every 100,000 residents. Today, it has less than 200.

Source: Vietnam’s Battle With Tuberculosis – The New York Times

Posted in: Post War Problems in Vietnam

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In Search of Their Fathers: Seeking Redemption in Vietnam – The New York Times

HO CHI “MINH CITY, Vietnam — For nearly half a century, Margot Carlson Delogne had grieved over her father’s death. She battled alcoholism, wore a missing-in-action bracelet and deeply resented the Vietnamese who shot down his plane in 1966.From Our AdvertisersNow she stood at the end of a long table in a conference room here, facing six Vietnamese men and women who had lost parents in the same war, fighting for the other side. It was her fourth such meeting in eight days, and the emotional toll was catching up with her.“We wondered if our coming together would open old wounds, or if any of us would be angry or sad all over again,” she started. Then she began to cry. “We have been sad,” she said, “but we have found no anger.” ”

Source: In Search of Their Fathers: Seeking Redemption in Vietnam – The New York Times

Posted in: Travel in Vietnam, Vietnam-American War

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ISIS and Vietnam – Tom Friedman, 10/28/14, The New York Times

“In May, I visited Vietnam and met with university students. After a week of being love-bombed by Vietnamese, who told me how much they admire America, want to work or study there and have friends and family living there, I couldn’t help but ask myself: “How did we get this country so wrong? How did we end up in a war with Vietnam that cost so many lives and drove them into the arms of their most hated enemy, China?”

It’s a long, complicated story, I know, but a big part of it was failing to understand that the core political drama of Vietnam was an indigenous nationalist struggle against colonial rule — not the embrace of global communism, the interpretation we imposed on it.The North Vietnamese were both communists and nationalists — and still are. But the key reason we failed in Vietnam was that the communists managed to harness the Vietnamese nationalist narrative much more effectively than our South Vietnamese allies, who were too often seen as corrupt or illegitimate. The North Vietnamese managed to win (with the help of brutal coercion) more Vietnamese support not because most Vietnamese bought into Marx and Lenin, but because Ho Chi Minh and his communist comrades were perceived to be the more authentic nationalists.”

Source: ISIS and Vietnam – The New York Times

Posted in: Thomas Friedman, Vietnam-American War

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Common Ground for Vietnam and the U.S. – The New York Times

“Within the last two years, Vietnam has become the United States’ largest trading partner in Southeast Asia, with two-way trade totaling $35 billion last year. That trade is projected to grow to $57 billion by 2020.”

via Common Ground for Vietnam and the U.S. – The New York Times.

This writer thinks that the US should not demand too many concessions from Vietnam in exchange for more trade. The arguments for increasing relations with Cuba apply here. More successful exchanges with the West will move the Viets more than bullying by the US. Our mutual interest in containing China should make most smaller issues recede.

Posted in: An Nam to Vietnam

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“Last Days in Vietnam,” Great documentary film, very painful, and yet uplifting.

Last night, I watched again the movie, Last Days in Vietnam, which I’d just seen two weeks earlier at a Yale South East Asia Association viewing. Great documentary film, very painful, and yet uplifting. The North Vietnamese communists won, but as this piece below reflects, now they have to govern, and keep the hearts and minds of a new generation, while the population of Vietnam, like much of the world, has quadrupled. Vietnam has grown in population from 20 million to 80 million in just forty years.

While the government talks of its victory in 1975, the Vietnamese people talk of its failures today.|By Nguyen Qui Duc

Posted in: An Nam to Vietnam

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On the success of farming fish in Vietnam, Roger Cohen, NYT

My favorite comment regarding the piece below on the success of farming fish in Vietnam. Numerous commenters insult the Vietnames health standards, and low wages as dangerous to us.

New York Yesterday

Um – just to chime in: The minimum wage in Vietnam is $114-$146 USD – the variance reflects cost of living differences dependent upon location. The average income in Vietnam is currently $148/mo. in Ho Chi Minh City, $145/mo. in Hanoi – reflecting that the majority of Vietnamese earn minimum wage. Thus a $220/mo. income is considerably greater than the average Vietnamese worker earns.
Some commenters have questioned the quality of the fish – in 2001 a group of U.S. catfish farmers and processors traveled to Vietnam on a fact-finding mission. “We thought we’d find them growing fish in polluted water and processing them in crude plants,” says one processor who went on the trip. “But that’s not what we found. We came back scared to death.” The Vietnamese operations were vastly better than what we had expected.

Graves in the life-giving rice paddies along the Mekong Delta suggest the Asian gift for acceptance.|By Roger Cohen

Posted in: An Nam to Vietnam

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