Current Events and U.S. Diplomacy
U.S. and Vietnam Relations after cold war to the present
The relationship between the United States and Vietnam has been tumultuous since time immemorial. This has been changing depending on the administration that is in power. The intervention of the United States in the Vietnam War became unpopular after American soldiers were massacred in enormous numbers (Dunne et al, 2007). This led to the Nixon doctrine that saw the withdrawal of the United States’ troops from the Vietnam. It is worth noting that the U.S.-Vietnam economic and diplomatic relations were virtually nonexistent for over 15 years after North Vietnam defeated South Vietnam in 1975 (Dunne et al, 2007). In fact, it maintained a trade embargo and even suspended foreign assistance to the Unified Vietnam. This was aimed at pressuring the Vietnam to withdraw from Cambodia (Manyin, 2012). Vietnam, on the other hand, was demanding that the United States provides money in postwar reconstruction aid, which Nixon administration had promised (Manyin, 2012).
However, the relationship between the two countries has been improving since the 90’s after president Clinton showed no opposition to the notion of Vietnam receiving financial assistance. In 1994, the relationship improved with the lifting of the trade embargo and the passing of the Foreign Relations Authorization Act, which expressed the chamber’s support for normalization of relations between the two countries. There was a tremendous improvement in the resumption of normal bilateral relations between the two nations under the Bush administration (Manyin, 2012).
Despite concerns pertaining to the Vietnamese human rights record, the US-Vietnam BTA was ratified in October 2001, which required that the United States reduce the imports tariffs on Vietnam while the Vietnam liberalized its markets. The relations have continued to improve under Obama’s administration especially after the formation of partnerships in the multilateral fora such as the Lower Mekong Initiative that comprised five countries. In addition, the United States has been involved tremendously in Vietnam’s quest for nuclear energy and assisted in drafting laws on the same. On the same note, the two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding Concerning Cooperation in the Civil Nuclear Field, designed to enhance cooperation in varied fields (Manyin, 2012).
Moreover, the US has heightened its assistance from about $1 million in 1991 to about $140 million in 2011 financial year. However, the financial aid may be jeopardized by the poor human rights record that the country continues to have (Manyin, 2012). Nevertheless, there has been an improvement or enhancement in the relations between these two countries on a military basis. In the 2009 financial year, the United States extended its foreign military financing for the Vietnamese government. The relations between the two countries have continued to improve and triggered cooperation on varied fronts. As much as the involvement of the US in the domestic politics of Vietnam has increased, it has adopted a hands-off style in the relationship (Manyin, 2012).
United States- China relations
Relationship between China and the United States, like the US-Vietnam relations, has been tumultuous. This was especially after the Second World War, which resulted in the emergence of two factions. These were the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the Republic Of China (ROC). The United States recognized and supported the ROC, in which case it worked with it against the other faction until the rapprochement in the Nixon and Kissinger administration (Manyin et al, 2012). During the Cold War, China and the U.S had a common enemy in the form of Russia. The United States provided China with a counterbalance to the soviets especially as concerning the border clashes. However, the fall of the Cold War meant that the two countries lost a common enemy, in which case their relationship became tense (Manyin et al, 2012). This was complemented by the development of the United States as the undisputed global hegemon. The tension between the two countries has been added by China’s rise into a global economic power, as well as its expansion of influence to areas rich with resources such as Africa. This has offered an alternative to the United States Model. Nevertheless, the trade relations between these two countries have heightened or improved after the opening of the Chinese economy (Manyin et al, 2012).
Comparison and contrasting
It is evident that the relations between the United States and the two countries have been triggered by its desire to defeat the Soviet Union. This explains why the relationships broke or seemed to be tense after the end of the Cold War. In addition, it is evident that the current or existing relationship between the US and the two countries is primarily based on the liberalization of their markets (Crockatt, 2006).
However, the relationship between the United States and the two countries seem to be extremely different. The United States and China relate as equals since they recognize each other as global powers. The same cannot, however, be said of the United States –Vietnam relations. The Vietnam recognizes the United States as its benefactor, which explains why Vietnam was grated conditional Normal Trade Relations under the Bilateral Trade Agreement in 2001. In this case, the United States was to reduce its tariffs on Vietnamese imports while Vietnam was to undertake varied market liberalization measures (Crockatt, 2006). This agreement was renewed in 2006. In addition, the United States still aims at checking the progress of China.
Going by the relationship between the United States and the two countries, it is evident that its diplomacy has mainly been based on the trade relations. In addition, the United States has stopped pegging its relations on the human rights records of countries rather, it pegs it on the trade opportunities (Crockatt, 2006). This is especially considering that China and Vietnam have the highest human rights violation rates (Crockatt, 2006).
Crockatt, R. (2006). The End of the Cold War & The Globalization of World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dunne, T., Kurki, M., & Smith, S. (2007). ‘International Relations Theories: Discipline and Diversity. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Manyin, ME. Daggett, S. Dolven, B, Lawrence , SV, Martin, M, O’Rourke, R, Vaughn, B (2012). Pivot to the pacific: the Obama administration’s rebalancing toward Asia. New York: congressional Research Service
Manyin, M. E (2012). US- Vietnam Relations in 2011: Current Issues and Implications for U.S Policy. New York: Congressional Research Service
(Manyin et al, 2012) (Manyin, 2012) (Dunne et al, 2007) (Crockatt, 2006)