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History Foreign policy

Nation-Building: A Forgotten Aspect of the Vietnam War

South Vietnamese Lt. General Ngo Quang Truong honors American soldiers. Image: tommy japan/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Defence-In-Depth on 8 December 2014.

While the debate over American strategy in the Vietnam War has been long and bitter, it has also been strangely constricted. This stems in part from the fact it has largely been an anguished dialogue among Americans searching for the reasons which underlay their nation’s defeat. This means that a lot of research into the Vietnam War ultimately seems to boil down to a search for villains – be they firepower-mad generals, feckless politicians, or corrupt and incompetent local allies.

Categories
International Relations Foreign policy

China’s “Historical Evidence”: Vietnam’s Position on South China Sea

Propaganda poster for Vietnam's maritime claim over the Paracel and Spratly Islands
Ngo Quang Minh/flickr

This article was originally published by RSIS on 27 August, 2014.

In their joint RSIS Commentary entitled “South China Sea Disputes: China has evidence of Historical Claims”, Dr Li Dexia and researcher Tan Keng Tat asserted that “China’s territorial claim is based on centuries of verifiable historical records, long-term use, treaties, international/customary laws plus records from the prodigious sea voyages of the Yuan and Ming dynasties”. I argue, however, that these evidences are unconvincing in the framework of international law.

Categories
International Relations Security

Friends in Many Places: Vietnam’s Diplomacy

Vietnamese President Truong Tan Sang and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala at the APEC 2011 meeting in Hawaii. Image: Wikimedia.

This article was originally published by FPRI on 9 May 2014.

Last Wednesday, Vietnam feted the 60th anniversary of its victory over French forces at Dien Bien Phu. But earlier that week, Hanoi lodged a protest against Beijing for allowing a Chinese offshore oil rig to drill in the waters near the Paracel Islands, which are disputed between China and Vietnam. Hanoi also complained that Chinese ships intentionally rammed two Vietnamese coast guard vessels which were dispatched to the oil rig site on Sunday. Several Vietnamese sailors suffered minor injuries.[1] Fortunately, the outcome of the incident was far less severe than Vietnam’s March 1988 naval clash with China in which 70 Vietnamese personnel were killed and three ships lost after Chinese forces fired on them near Johnson South Reef in the Spratly Islands.

Categories
Foreign policy Development Economy

Vietnam: New Thinking, New Risks, New Opportunities

Vietnam, Image: flydime/flickr

The Vietnam “story” has changed over time. First, it was a war story; then Vietnam became “a country” in the run-up to the normalization of US-Vietnam relations in 1995. Now the country is moving forward with a new narrative, a strategy of active and proactive international integration.

The country’s top foreign policy makers have decided it is time for Vietnam to fully launch itself into the international arena. In a conversation with the Council on Foreign Relations last year, Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh said, “This was a turning point in our foreign policy, because before we focused on economic integration, but now we also integrate in all areas such as not only economic but politics, diplomacy, security, defense, culture and social effects.”