Vietnam Strengthens Naval Capabilities, But It’s Still Not Enough
It has been long overdue, but the Vietnamese government is finally looking to strengthen its own military capabilities. According to Blog Critics Politics (August 31, 2011), Vietnam has recently acquired a new Gepard class frigate from Russia, with additional orders placed on six new Project 636 Varshavyanka kilo-class submarines. The newly acquired Gepard class warship will be the most capable of Vietnam’s fleet, leading the way for the new development and modernization of Vietnam’s naval forces.
Modernizing the military for the purpose of defending Vietnam’s sovereignty against foreign aggression is a respectable endeavour. The new weapons purchased from Russia will surely add some much needed muscle to the Vietnamese military, but even so, it will be far from enough. Last year, the People’s Republic of China spent about $91.5 billion on their defence budget, investing heavily in their naval capabilities, using advanced nuclear weapons technology. If Hanoi wanted to challenge Beijing, there is still much work that needs to be done. Not only will Vietnam need to order weapons from Russia, but they must look to the United States for support as well.
Currently, the U.S. is prohibited from selling weapons to Vietnam, as part of an arms embargo put in place since 1984. However, there are many in the U.S. who are considering on lifting the ban of selling weapons to Vietnam. However, the Vietnamese government’s constant abuse of human rights and freedoms still provides an obstacle. There are many in the United States who want to help Vietnam, the only thing standing in the way is their dictatorial style of governing. If Vietnam were to take a stand on corruption and human rights, it is certain that the U.S. will support this change with open arms. There is an easy way to push Beijing back, and it’s as easy as playing by the rules.