Nora prognosticates: US bases in Vietnam coming soon
Some day people are going to look back at this blog (assuming the memory storage facility is not flooded thanks to rising oceans or zapped thanks to a depleted ozone) and say, "Gee, that Nora really knows her $#!+."
Either that or I will be dismissed as another whacko who didn't know what the hell was going on.
So on that note, Nora the Prognosticator goes out on yet another limb: Within the next decade, possibly even the next five years, there will be a U.S. military base in Vietnam.
What?! you may ask incredulously, the same Vietnam that bled us to death with a thousand paper cuts (right-wing version), the same Vietnam that became the first country to ever defeat us in war (left-wing version), the same Vietnam that fought us relentlessly for a decade just to keep us out of their country? That Vietnam is willingly going to invite the United States military to set up a camp somewhere within its territory?! That Vietnam?!
Yep. That Vietnam.
The same Vietnam whose prime minister was recently the first-ever post-Vietnam War leader of that country to visit the White House. The same Vietnam that has seen the US as a trading partner of increasing importance.
The same Vietnam that is still working out land-based territorial disputes with China. The same Vietnam that is embroiled in maritime territorial issues centered on the Paracel Islands (along with Taiwan) and the hotly contested Spratly Islands (along with Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and possibly Brunei). The same Vietnam that was partly invaded and briefly occupied by China during the Sino-Vietnamese War in 1979.
The Vietnamese can feel confident in the "knowledge" that they kicked the Americans' asses out of their country, so the absence of han-like seething resentment has allowed old wounds to heal. Plus the fact that (as seen in the Philippines) the US military as an invited military guest will leave if asked. That all adds up to one thing: the US seems a less fearful nation to side on than China when it comes to security issues.
Vietnamese PM Phan Van Khai's visit was wildly popular back home, seen as a boost to Vietnam's social and economic status. According to the BBC, state-run media have been reporting on how important it is for Vietnam to tap into the US market, and the mood of optimism has people talking of a "new era" for Vietnam. One person wrote this:
I trust that the visit will help improve relationships with the United States in order to bring in more foreign investment and lessen China's influence in the region.Did you catch that? Lessen China's influence in the region.
So it's clear that the Vietnamese want greater economic ties with the US to counter China, but what's in it for the US?
Days after meeting with a North Korean dissident whose book laid out the inhumanity of the communist regime in Pyongyang, President George W. Bush met with the leader of another communist regime in Hanoi that has problems with human rights, which is why the visit was met with large protests.
Protesting Phan's visit in Orange County's Little Saigon
In Bush-loving Orange County, where the Republican-leaning Vietnamese-American community is centered in Little Saigon, many people are not happy. No wonder, given that they or their parents risked their lives fleeing the same communist regime. And the theocons aren't particularly happy that Bush is breaking bread with the head of a country that still strongly suppresses religious freedom.
Families in Orange County protest visit
But the Bush administration assures us that Vietnam has been improving in this area (in April several religious dissidents were released). Maybe they have, maybe they haven't, but the US has a long-standing tradition of holding its nose when it comes to "allies," and Vietnam could be no different.
That's right... Vietnam could become another ally in the effort to keep Beijing boxed in, lest it ever get the idea to militarily expand, as it was once wont to do.
And don't forget, you heard it first at nora knows nada?.