Who would have thought that two nations that killed thousands upon thousands of the others’ citizens could reach this point?
The United States has lifted its 50-year-long arms embargo against Vietnam.
My initial reaction: Wow!
President Obama went to Hanoi over the weekend and announced the lifting of the embargo. He’s thinking strategically, of course. Vietnam has grown quite concerned about China’s increasing aggressiveness in Southeast Asia. For that matter, U.S. officials are concerned as well.
So, the arms embargo will enable U.S. manufacturers to sell weapons to Vietnam, giving that country some needed assistance in case China decides to take its aggressiveness to another, more dangerous level.
Forty-one years ago, North Vietnamese tanks and other armored vehicles rolled into Saigon, stormed the presidential palace in what was then South Vietnam. Troops struck the South Vietnamese flag and ran up the communist flag in its place.
The war ended right then.
However, it has continued to simmer at some level in the hearts of many Americans.
Frankly, I am one who is glad to see this relationship take the next logical step. We’ve already restored diplomatic relations with our former enemy; that rapprochement took 20 years since the end of the shooting.
The president has opened the door to Cuba, another nation with which we had zero relations for more than five decades. You’d have thought, listening to critics of that deal, that Obama had signed a pact with Satan himself.
However, we never went to all-out war with the Cubans. We did go to war with the Vietnamese and it cost both nations dearly.
Does this shore up our alliance structure in a part of the world that President Obama has placed greater emphasis? One can hope so.
It also sends a clear message to China, with which Vietnam also has gone to war in recent years.
It’s far better to have the Vietnamese on our side in this dicey world of geopolitical maneuvering.