Vietnam-US relations: Towards partnership?


Jul 5, 2008
Earlier this month an interesting little thing happened: American warships docked at Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. It is the first visit by American warships to the old American (and Soviet) base since 1975. The visit by US warships broadly coincides with the start of the seventh iteration of a joint "Naval Engagement Activity" (read: exercise) between Vietnam and the United States.

Now, this occurrence would be somewhat of a symbolical milestone in and of itself, but it is notable for the context within which it is taking place. In May of this year the Obama administration announced the full lifting of a decades old arms embargo against Vietnam. Such a step is a significant development in US-Vietnamese defense relations. It may be a while before this development starts to have an impact, but it does allow Vietnam to acquire means for its defense from the United States. This is not the only point where the Vietnamese and American defense ties are changing. In March of this year it was made clear that the United States would soon be implementing the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative. In essence this initiative comes down to the strengthening of the maritime capabilities of the countries involved. Aside from American treaty allies (Thailand and the Philippines) it also involves Vietnam, Malaysia and Indonesia. What it means in practice for Vietnam is that the United States is assisting in the construction of a coast guard training center. In the NDA Act for 2016 there are specifically authorized elements of assistance for the aforementioned countries include equipment, supplies, training and small-scale military construction. More might thus be to come.

What might not be to come is an American military base in Vietnam itself or a Vietnamese-American alliance. This would contravene longstanding Vietnamese policy against alliances and foreign military bases on its soil.

The elephant in the room that has not been mentioned thus far is Vietnam's participation in TPP. While that particular treaty is quite controversial right now in the United States it is interesting to note the participation of Vietnam.

These developments are, of course, taking place with Vietnam's strained relationship with China in the background. As you might be aware, China and the Vietnamese are engaged in some maritime territorial disputes. These disputes are relatively similar to the disputes existing between the Philippines and China. It would seem to me that Vietnam's relationship with China seems to be creating some form of partnership with the United States. Which, if correct, would be a very interesting development given the history of these two states.

US, Vietnam Boost Naval Cooperation with NEA 2016 | The Diplomat
Why Obama
U.S. Warships Make First Visit to Vietnam Base in Decades - Bloomberg


Well-known member
May 5, 2007
The US had a close relationship with the old "South Vietnam" state. This state was fairly corrupt and was basically a US run pupppet.
Interesting what US Vietnam veterens think of this- John Kerry is one. Also this must affect the old Viet Cong militia members also..

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