Forty years after the US military killed millions of Vietnamese people in a brutal war, the belligerent in that fight, Washington, has lifted a ban on arms sales to Hanoi. Sputnik discussed with political analyst Eric Draitser if President Obama’s visit to Vietnam marks an attempt to come together against China, and if such a union is viable.
Talking to Radio Sputnik’s Loud & Clear host Brian Becker, Draitser said that the US President’s visit to Vietnam, a country still experiencing the consequences of a war on its own soil with the most powerful nation on Earth, including thousands of pieces of unexploded ordnance on the ground and generations of citizens poisoned by US defoliation, is an indication of the “power that imperialism has.”
“Despite all that, the US remains a hegemon, an imperial power, a dominant power, wielding influence that we see on display with regard to Vietnam today.”
Vietnam is seen by the US, according to Draitser, as an interim step to get closer to China. Washington, he asserts, is attempting to prevent the member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) from collaborating with China. Vietnam is integral to this equation, due to its geography and politics. The country has a long history with China, he said.
According to Draitser, Vietnam today is an “independent country that is walking a line between” Washington and Beijing.
“When we look at Vietnam today we should not see it as a US puppet, nor should we see at as a vanguard of Chinese communism in the region,” he said. “While we see Vietnam opening its economy to western investments, western travellers and western tourists, it also has a very strong element that is pro-Chinese, that is pro-Communism. So there are competing ideologies.”
As regards the ongoing South China Sea dispute, Washington is attempting to create a network of non-Chinese states with interests in the region to act as a counterweight to Beijing’s territorial claims.
“The US power in the region rests on its ability to prevent China from having positive relations with its neighbours in the region. As usual, human rights and democracy created a pretext for the preconceived US strategy for the region. It’s about preventing these countries from making their own decisions.”
Washington seeks to prevent in Southeast Asia what occurred in Latin America some fifteen years ago, as the region began to break away from Western political influence.
Draitser suggested that the US today is attempting to influence multilateral blocs, including ASEAN, which historically the US has dominated, to assert Washington-centric policies in the region. But during a recent ASEAN meeting in California, US anti-China rhetoric aimed at delegates did not bear fruit.
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