News You Really Need To See: “In China’s Shadow, U.S. Courts Old Foe Vietnam”

“In China’s Shadow, U.S. Courts Old Foe Vietnam”

The New York Times, August 17, 2014, p.A4

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, courted Vietnam over the past several days.  He was the first chairman in more than 40 years to visit the old enemy of Washington, now envisioned as a new partner that will acquire American weapons and help offset the power of China.  General Dempsey, who graduated from West Point as the Vietnam War was winding down, never served here, but his visit capped a vibrant effort by the United States and Vietnam to reconnect.  A longstanding embargo on lethal weapons sales by the United States is likely to be eased, he said, and Washington would then begin discussions on what equipment Vietnam would buy, most likely in the field of maritime surveillance.  Vietnam has suddenly become more important to Washington as the United States and China are increasingly at loggerheads over the South China Sea, one of the world’s most vital trading routes.  Vietnam is crucial because of its strategic position bordering China, its large population of nearly 100 million and its long coastline on that sea.”

Quickie Analysis:  In the last 40 years, Vietnam has gone from implacable foe to “most favored nation” trading partner.  Both sides would certainly prefer to see China contained in the South China Sea.  Why not cooperate?

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