After 50 years of safeguarding against arms trading to Vietnam, President Obama has lifted the embargo this week. He cited the need for the Vietnamese to protect themselves as the catalyst in ending the ban. Obama claims the move is not intended to embolden Vietnam against the Chinese.
Was this the right thing to do? Vietnamese human rights activists set to meet with President Obama were blocked from doing so by the Hanoi government. Police surrounded the house of several activists the Hanoi government did not want speaking out against them. American activists decried the Obama administration for not winning concessions from the Vietnamese government on human rights before ending the weapons embargo on the country.
Obama himself seemed unclear on the future of Vietnam’s human rights citing a need “to abandon its authoritarian past.” Will the one-party Asian state take his words into consideration now that it is a full trade partner with the U.S. and the international community? Or has the Obama administration played its last card with nothing left to leverage against the autocratic government?
The real winners of the agreement are likely to be large corporations like: Boeing, which manufactures “maritime surveillance aircraft” and Northrop Grumman, a dominant drone-maker.
Many United States Vietnam Veterans also support this grandiose change. Vietnam veteran Ned Foote made the claim that Americans forgave Germany and Japan for WWII long long ago and that it was about time that we did the same with Vietnam.
Bernard Edelman, director of government affairs for the Vietnam Veterans of America simply stated,
“The war is over”.