Killed in Action
Wounded in Action
Missing in Action
Prisoners of War
President Barack Obama has lifted the decades-long U.S. arms embargo against Vietnam, allowing sales of deadly weapons to a government that killed or wounded more than 200,000 Americans.
The final surrender is very good for big business, lobbyists and campaign contributors to politicians. The decision is also a desecration of American lives lost, soldiers maimed, families destroyed.
Obama, with graceful gestures reminiscent of Jane Fonda, announced his latest U.S. capitulation, standing by Vietnamese President Tran Dai Quang in Hanoi.
The president said the move was intended as a step toward normalizing relations with the former enemy and to eliminate a “lingering vestige of the Cold War.”
Why did this happen?
Obama and Quang earlier had attended a signing ceremony for a series of new commercial deals between U.S. and Vietnamese companies valued at more than $16 billion.
The deals included U.S. engine manufacturer Pratt & Whitney’s $11.3 billion agreement to sell 135 advanced engines to Vietnamese air carrier Vietjet, and Boeing’s plans to sell 100 aircraft to the airline. These engines can be used for commercial or military planes.
U.S. lawmakers and experts on the communist dictatorship had urged Obama to press for greater human rights freedoms in the one-party state before lifting the embargo. Vietnam holds about 100 political prisoners and there have been more detentions this year.
Obama, like Secretary of State John Forbes Kerry, seems doomed to make deals that only benefit the other side,
“In one fell swoop, President Obama has jettisoned what remained of U.S. leverage to improve human rights in Vietnam — and has basically received nothing for it,” Phil Robertson, with Human Rights Watch, said.
China, currently under restrictions on weapon sales, is happy with the deal. In Beijing, China’s Foreign Ministry outwardly praised the move, with a spokeswoman saying China hoped “normal and friendly” relations between the U.S. and Vietnam would increase regional stability. The deal also allows Vietnam to buy U.S. weapons and send them to its close ally, China.
Prior to the press conference on lifting the arms emargo, the two leaders shook hands in front of a large bronze bust of Vietnamese communist revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh inside the Presidential Palace. Without mentioning the lives lost by Americans fighting Vietnam, Obama boasted:
“At this stage both sides have developed a level of trust and cooperation, including between our militaries, that is reflective of common interests and mutual respect.”
No surprise. Obama also urged Vietnam leaders to approve the 12-nation (which includes Vietnam) Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement. Called “NAFTA on steroids”, TPP will move even more jobs and factories to Asia from the U.S.
January 20, 2017 cannot come too soon.