“U.S. will have to work hard to win over Vietnam’s conservatives”

Anti-American sentiments remain entrenched among certain groups.

Winning over “Vietnam’s conservatives” would not be in the best interests of Viet Nam. In fact, the country’s foreign policy is characterized by independence and openness. Here’s an excerpt from the description on the website of the Embassy of the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam in the US:

Implement consistently the foreign policy line of independence, self-reliance, peace, cooperation and development; the foreign policy of openness and diversification and multilateralization of international relations. Proactively and actively engage in international economic integration while expanding international cooperation in other fields. Viet Nam is a friend and reliable partner of all countries in the international community, actively taking part in international and regional cooperation processes.

In other words, it is not a foreign policy that plays favorites but rather looks for mutual benefit in every binational relationship.

As someone who used to work for a quasi-governmental US NGO and who knows a thing or two about US foreign policy, I read this Nikkei Asia article with interest. The author is Dien Luong, who is currently a visiting fellow at the ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute in Singapore and a non-resident research associate at the Harvard Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation. He was a Fulbrighter in the journalism program at Columbia University.

Here are a couple of key quotes followed by my reaction:

The conservative faction has harped on about the threat of a ‘peaceful evolution,’ which alludes to perceived U.S.-led backing of pro-democracy dissidents and the promotion of human rights values in order to undermine or even topple the Vietnam Communist Party, to sow suspicions of closer ties with Washington.

MAA: The notion of “peaceful evolution” is not a figment of the conservatives’ overactive and paranoid political imagination. It is real. Let me count the ways. (I have in previous posts and articles, including this one from 2011. This post contains the leaked US Embassy Hanoi diplomatic cable on which the article was based.)

Always beware of official US Americans bearing gifts and take their advice with a grain of salt. One of the goals of US foreign policy is to bring them into the red, white, and blue fold and mold them in the USA’s image for practical and ideological reasons.

Still, suspicions of the U.S. agenda by Vietnamese hard-liners are not utterly groundless.

MAA: I was pleased to see this nod to reality. Not “utterly groundless,” indeed. There is plenty of proof for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

According to the author’s definition, I must be a “conservative,” even though I’m not from “the defense-security-ideology wings of the party.” (Labels are essentially meaningless.) In fact, I’m not a member of any party and only carry a US passport because the world does not (yet) acknowledge people who are stateless, i.e., true global citizens.

Shalom (שלום), MAA

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