“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:
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
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
“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
“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.