Archive for U.S. Arms Embargo 1984

A Chance for Change: Vietnam and the U.S.

Posted in IV. Columns, Politics with tags , , , on September 8, 2011 by Ian Pham

During a conference in Hanoi on August 24, 2011, Senator Jim Webb talked about the possibility of lifting the weapons embargo against Vietnam, implemented by the U.S. since 1984.

Over the past year, the U.S. and Vietnam have held numerous political meetings and military exchanges, flourishing from skeptical optimism to an almost working partnership.  Vietnam’s affiliation with the U.S., a former enemy, has improved greatly since the countries normalized relations in 1995.  Truth be told, both countries are still very suspicious of each other due to their relationship in the past.  However, it is also true that both sides have a common interest in one another due to the current circumstances in world politics.  That is why it is time for the two sides to work out these differences and build on a relationship that has been cultivated for almost two decades.

It should be obvious by now that the U.S. has a national interest in Vietnam, mostly because of it potential as a counterbalance to the ever defiant and malicious People’s Republic of China.  The rise of China, who has become increasingly aggressive and belligerent in every realm of American politics, is now posing a problem for the United States.  China has directed its economic and military muscle at the United States on many occasions.  They will do anything in their power to keep the American economy in a state of recession and vulnerability.  Needless to say that China, regardless of what they say on the surface, is no friend to America.

As a country who has fought with China over and over for more than one thousand years, Vietnam has proven itself a formidable force against the northern giant.  The U.S. never understood this in the past, but after several painful lessons at the hands of both the Chinese and the Vietnamese through the decades, the lesson is finally clear.  Of all the countries in Southeast Asia, it has always been Vietnam who put China in their place.  Today, with an increasingly powerful military and ever growing economy, China is once again trying to bully, steal, and force its way to the centre of the political stage.  The U.S. is facing constant pressure from the Chinese as a result, exacerbating their need for someone capable of taking on this threat besides the U.S. themselves.

In Vietnam, the U.S. sees this potential, both in the country’s economy and its military.  The population in Vietnam has now surpassed 80 million people, well on its way to becoming a nation of over 100 million people in the coming decades.  This growing population is desperately searching for work, possessing the mental and physical capacity to fuel the Vietnamese economy.  Furthermore, the growing population is more than eager to defend the country against China, who has given Vietnam much more problems they have done to the U.S.  Vietnam has both the potential and the strength to make this happen.  What Vietnam lacks however, is the leadership, and the tools to realize their potential.

The U.S. understands Vietnam’s capability and would like to provide the means to reach that goal, the only thing that stands in the way is the country’s rampant corruption and totalitarian ways.  Several weeks ago, American Senator Jim Webb has expressed his interests on lifting the ban on selling weapons to Vietnam.  If the ban were lifted, the U.S. would be free to sell military technology to Vietnam, greatly improving the defensive capabilities of Vietnam.  However, there will be some guidelines that Vietnam would have to follow, which will undoubtably involve human rights. Even so, would that be such a bad thing?  It is such a no-brainer, win-win situation, yet the Vietnamese Communists still have to think about it.  Provide a better life for your people and receive stores of high-tech weaponry in return?  The benefits outweigh the gains so substantially, this shouldn’t even be a question.

Vietnam Strengthens Naval Capabilities, But It’s Still Not Enough

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , on September 5, 2011 by Ian Pham

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.