With the standoff between China and Vietnam at the disputed Vanguard Bank ended, it makes sense to take stock of how Hanoi's security strategy fared in countering Chinese coercion. It may be time for Vietnam to consider a careful recalibration to allow for more “struggle” and less “cooperation.”
What can Vietnam do now to make Chinese assertiveness against it less likely going forward? Although deepening the U.S.-Vietnam defense partnership in the short-term may be contributing to trouble with China, closer cooperation in the long-run could serve to deter China. Enhancing cooperation with Vietnam's other defense partners—namely Australia, Japan, and India—could help to deter Beijing as well.
President Trump's second summit with Kim Jong Un prompted voluminous commentary about whether Pyongyang might adopt the “Vietnam model” of economic reform and opening up, known as doi moi. Some version of doi moi is not impossible in North Korea, but it will likely be more difficult than it was in Vietnam and made all the more so by Kim's reluctance to risk losing absolute control.
China's last major war experience gave it virtually zero lessons to apply to future armed conflict. At some point the People's Liberation Army (PLA) will need to test its new capabilities and the training it has honed over time. There are at least three reasons why Vietnam is likely in the PLA's crosshairs.
Vietnam has sought to balance China's expanding presence in the South China Sea through diplomacy and military modernization. The Vietnam People's Army has acquired many useful weapons, but unfamiliarity with combat in the sea and air will test its evolving military doctrine.
Vietnam in March very publicly engaged in a string of activities to strengthen deterrence against China in the South China Sea. But Hanoi's push to deepen external defense ties with states that can help its cause will not necessarily translate into greater risk-taking in the region.
In reviewing Jack Walker's book about his coming of age in Vietnam, Dan Grunfeld says the story is “powerful, thoughtful and engaging. ... The hard and expensive lessons of Walker's youth led to a big-hearted life, full of wisdom and generosity that touched so many.”
In 1967, the first major documentary about the Vietnam war appeared as a CBS News Special Report featuring a film by French director Pierre Schoendoerffer. It introduced key features of the war told through the filming of an American platoon, and provided texture and background so a viewer could gain a sense of what was happening there.
China has probably tolerated Vietnam's South China Sea construction activities because it feels confident in its military position in the region. Chinese leaders might change their stance if they believe Vietnam is trying to enlist the support of the U.S. or other partners to settle bilateral disputes.
The lifting of the arms embargo needs to be understood as part of the long process of normalizing relations with a former U.S. enemy and building toward a more cooperative, economically dynamic, and strategic future-oriented relationship.
Tensions are rising in the South China Sea, where China moved a state-owned oil rig, reportedly accompanied by six warships, into disputed waters last month, triggering anti-Chinese demonstrations in Vietnam that resulted in four deaths. Beijing has denied reports indicating the presence of Chinese warships in the region, while Hanoi has threatened legal action.
The passing of Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap marks the end of an era for Vietnam — and for giants of the twentieth-century anti-colonial movement throughout the world. As commander of the Viet Minh and the Vietnam People's Army, his strategies led to successes against France and the U.S. that were regarded as among communism's finest military moments.
The Vietnam negotiations arose from a U.S. initiative, in response to domestic political imperatives and over repeated objections from the Saigon regime. By contrast, the incipient Afghan process has its roots in that society, not ours, writes James Dobbins.
Now that U.S. involvement in Iraq has begun to require fewer resources, Afghanistan is the new focus of American and European anti-war sentiment, and increasingly Obama's critics are drawing on the analogy of Vietnam, writes James Dobbins.