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U.S. Navy Capt. David Bretz (right) shakes hands with Vietnamese military officials during the arrival of the USNS Mercy in Nha Trang in central Vietnam on May 17, 2018. LINH PHAM/AFP via Getty Images

Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh is making his first visit to the United States later this week for the U.S.-ASEAN Special Summit. Since the mid-1990s, when U.S. President Bill Clinton and a cohort of bipartisan allies reestablished relations with Vietnam, the two countries have achieved remarkable things. Hanoi is now one of Washington’s top trading partners in the region, and the United States has invested billions of dollars in Agent Orange remediation and other remaining war legacy issues, showing how, with persistence and trust, former adversaries can turn into partners.

U.S. officials, including most recently U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam Marc Knapper, are calling for an official upgrade to a “strategic partnership” from the current status of “comprehensive partnership” to recognize the remarkable success of the relationship.…  Seguir leyendo »

Hang Ma Street in Hanoi, last month. Credit Linh Pham/Getty Images

Within days of China’s announcing the first case of Covid-19, Vietnam was mobilizing to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Using mass texts, TV ads, billboards, posters and loudspeakers, the government exhorted the nation’s 100 million citizens to identify carriers and trace contacts, contacts of contacts, even contacts of contacts of contacts. Rapid isolation of outbreaks has kept Vietnam’s death rate among the four lowest in the world — well under one death per million people.

Containing the pandemic allowed Vietnam to quickly reopen businesses, and it is now expected to be the world’s fastest growing economy this year. While many nations are suffering enormous economic contractions and running to the International Monetary Fund for financial rescues, Vietnam is growing at a 3 percent annual pace.…  Seguir leyendo »

La estrategia de bajo costo de Vietnam contra el COVID-19

En tanto el COVID-19 se vaya expandiendo por todo el hemisferio sur, los gobiernos tendrán mucho que aprender de la estrategia de Vietnam. Una comunicación clara y una cooperación entre el gobierno y los ciudadanos apalancada en la tecnología son las principales razones por las que el país ha tenido relativamente pocos casos.

Se ha prestado mucha atención a otros modelos en Asia. Las autoridades de salud taiwanesas investigaron casos de neumonía reportados en Wuhan antes de que ocurriera la transmisión comunitaria. Corea del Sur instaló un sistema de respuesta de emergencia ininterrumpido para escanear a todos los viajeros que ingresaban al país provenientes de Wuhan a comienzos de enero.…  Seguir leyendo »

En Hanói, Vietnam, Kim Jong-un, el líder norcoreano de 35 años, se reunirá en su segunda cumbre con el Presidente estadounidense Donald Trump. No solo buscará un acuerdo sobre el tema nuclear, sino que apuntará a un objetivo de más largo plazo: sacar a su país del aislamiento diplomático, mitigar la presión de años de sanciones económicas internacionales y reformar el “reino ermitaño”, sumido en la pobreza, para afianzarse en el poder en las décadas futuras.

A medida que Kim prepara el rumbo futuro de su país, tal vez advierta que el propio historial de Vietnam en las últimas tres décadas es el modelo más útil de imitar.…  Seguir leyendo »

La militante des droits de l'homme Tran Thi Nga comparaît le 22 décembre 2017 devant un tribunal populaire de la province d'Ha Nam (nord du pays). Elle a été condamnée à neuf ans de prison. Photo Vietnam News Agency. AFP

Ce mardi, jour du Têt, le Vietnam célébrera son entrée dans une nouvelle année. Il est fort à craindre que 2019 soit placée sous le signe d’une répression accrue par les autorités, qui s’acharnent à terrasser toute opposition dans le pays.

Depuis 2016, l’étau se resserre sur les défenseurs des droits humains vietnamiens, avec une accélération des arrestations et des condamnations lourdes. Cette évolution concorde d’une part avec l’arrivée au pouvoir d’une frange de dirigeants conservateurs et prochinois et d’autre part avec le retrait du partenariat transpacifique par Donald Trump à son arrivée au pouvoir  – partenariat qui, en incluant un volet «droits de l’homme», constituait un certain levier de pression sur les autorités vietnamiennes.…  Seguir leyendo »

A war veteran places incense on graves in Hanoi on the national Day for Martyrs and Wounded Soldiers. Credit Hoang Dinh Nam/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On July 27, the day a collection of remains believed to be those of American soldiers lost in the Korean War were flown out of North Korea, I was driving from Hanoi to Vietnam’s rural northern province of Yen Bai. My host that morning was Ngo Thuy Hang, the 42-year-old vice director of Marin, a local nonprofit devoted to helping Vietnamese families locate the remains of their loved ones.

More than 300,000 Vietnamese soldiers are still missing from the war with America, a heartbreaking statistic that reverberates across thousands of Vietnamese families, mostly in the north. And though Vietnam’s government has made scattered efforts to search for remains, the resources devoted to finding the missing Vietnamese are a small fraction of those devoted to recovering the 1,600 Americans still listed as M.I.A.…  Seguir leyendo »

Last year, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg said: “Our job at Facebook is to help people make the greatest positive impact while mitigating areas where technology and social media can contribute to divisiveness and isolation”.

As a Vietnamese musical artist who grew up in a totalitarian society, I can attest to the positive impact Facebook can make. In the past, there was nowhere the Vietnamese people could go to express ourselves freely. Government control extended to every aspect of our social life. The advent of social media changed that. It provided a space where we could speak our minds, access uncensored information and organize peaceful protests.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Chinese coast guard vessel sails near an oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea in 2014. Photo: Getty Images.

Vietnam has lost another sea battle: a $200 million oil and gas development project — known as the ‘Red Emperor’ development — off Vietnam’s southeast coast has been suspended, possibly cancelled. Hanoi’s hopes of a hydrocarbon boost to its stretched government budget have been dashed. And the culprit is Vietnam’s ‘good neighbour, good comrade and good friend’ to the north.

The project, many years in the making, was a joint venture between Repsol of Spain, Mubadala of Abu Dhabi and the state-owned energy company PetroVietnam. Commercial drilling was due to begin this April and oil and gas were expected to flow for at least 10 years.…  Seguir leyendo »

El puertorriqueño Rafael Matos es un veterano de la guerra Vietnam. Durante 1967 fue un médico militar. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Los médicos militares nunca lo olvidan: la apariencia, el olor, la textura de la sangre que fluye. Las extremidades mutiladas. Observar con impotencia el momento en que la vida se transforma en muerte. Cincuenta años después, los recuerdos aún se filtran en mi alma, como si una sonda intravenosa los liberara y me veo esperando, herido, a que inicie la evacuación en un paraje vietnamita.

Entonces, en 1967, en Puerto Rico, mi país de origen, no tenía idea de en qué me había metido cuando decidí enlistarme en el ejército de Estados Unidos en vez de esperar a que me reclutaran.…  Seguir leyendo »

The USS Carl Vinson pulls into port in Danang on 5 March. Photo: Getty Images.

The United States is sending one of its largest ships, the USS Carl Vinson, to Vietnam this week. It will be the first aircraft carrier to dock in the country since the end of the war in Vietnam, over 40 years ago.

In some respects this is a routine event: other US warships have been visiting Vietnamese ports since 2003. But it is also a symbolic moment. Previously, Vietnamese governments kept aircraft carriers at arm’s length – officials have only visited them far offshore. By welcoming the USS Carl Vinson into the harbour at Danang, the country’s third city, and the one closest to the disputed Paracel Islands, Vietnam is clearly sending out some strong messages.…  Seguir leyendo »

Vietnamese authorities have harped of late on the urgency of fighting cybersecurity threats and “bad and dangerous content.”

Yet the fight against either “fake news” or misinformation in Vietnam must not be used as a smoke screen for stifling dissenting opinions and curtailing freedom of speech. Doing so would only further stoke domestic cynicism in a country where the sudden expansion of space for free and open discussion has created a kind of high-pressure catharsis online.

Other countries, including democratic states, are also scrambling to rein in toxic information online. But while Germany, for example, specifically targets hate speech and other extremist messaging that directly affects the masses, Vietnamese leaders are more fixated on content deemed detrimental to their own reputation and the survival of the regime.…  Seguir leyendo »

Elizabeth Becker’s press card

This year Australia put the journalist Kate Webb on a stamp to commemorate the country’s Veterans Day. It is a reproduction of a famous photo of Kate wearing a safari shirt, holding open her notebook while looking intently at the subject of an interview.

By recognizing Kate, who covered the Vietnam War for United Press International, as a “woman in war,” the stamp quietly acknowledges what has been glossed over in the annals of the conflict. Female reporters covered that war, rewriting the rules so that the phrase “woman war correspondent” would never again be an oxymoron.

Reporters like Kate and me didn’t go to Vietnam because of enlightened decisions by newsrooms; in the 1960s, news organizations weren’t sending women to cover the most important story of our generation.…  Seguir leyendo »

From left: Gen. Earle Wheeler, Gen. William Westmoreland, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara and President Lyndon Johnson at the White House, July 1967. Associated Press

President Lyndon Johnson surely felt a bitter sense of recognition when he opened The Washington Post on Aug. 1, 1967. There, on Page A12, appeared a political cartoon — the latest by the brilliant cartoonist Herbert Block, better known as Herblock. The sketch showed a beleaguered Johnson flanked by two female suitors. To his right stood a voluptuous seductress bedecked with jewels and a mink stole bearing the words “Vietnam War.” To his left was a scrawny, disheveled waif labeled “U.S. Urban Needs.” The Johnson figure reassured them, “There’s money enough to support both of you,” but readers could hardly fail to grasp the president’s hesitation.…  Seguir leyendo »

On Sunday, PBS debuted “The Vietnam War,” Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s long-awaited, 18-hour documentary on the conflict and its legacy. As engrossing as the film is, just as noteworthy has been the commentary about it, both critical and in praise. And this, I am sure, is one of the filmmakers’ goals: to jumpstart a conversation about a conflict that deepened divisions within America, opened new ones and redefined the country’s role in the world — with repercussions that are still felt today.

What do you think of the documentary? Discuss it by clicking here and going to the comments section.…  Seguir leyendo »

A solidarity rally with United States and South Vietnam officials in Saigon in 1964. Credit Larry Burrows/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images

In August 1965, a resolute President Lyndon Johnson said: “America wins the wars that she undertakes. Make no mistake about it.” But the strategy on which he committed America to its ill-fated intervention in Vietnam that year did not aim at winning, but at not losing. McGeorge Bundy, Johnson’s national security adviser, later admitted as much to a biographer, saying that he had personally approved a strategy that used just enough military pressure to achieve a battlefield stalemate, which “would eventually compel the Vietnamese Communists to compromise their objectives,” forcing them to the negotiating table or to a Korea-style armistice.

Bundy added that his strategy rested, in hindsight, on “little more than an unexamined assumption.”…  Seguir leyendo »

Students marching in an anti-American protest in South Vietnam, in 1965. Credit Associated Press

The year 1967 was a watershed for antiwar protest in the United States, from bold statements like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Riverside Church speech in April to the March on the Pentagon in October. Equally noteworthy, but less well known, is the student protest movement that emerged in South Vietnam. Vietnamese youth, of all political orientations, played an active and critical role in the politics of South Vietnam, at times acting like the official opposition with the ability to shape events on the national stage. And just like in the United States, 1967 was a momentous year for the movement.…  Seguir leyendo »

Phan Thanh Hung Duc, 20, a patient at the Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last October. Credit Richard Hughes

Phan Thanh Hung Duc, 20, lies immobile and silent, his midsection covered haphazardly by a white shirt with an ornate Cambodian temple design. His mouth is agape and his chest thrusts upward, his hands and feet locked in gnarled deformity. He appears to be frozen in agony. He is one of the thousands of Vietnamese victims of Agent Orange.

Pham Thi Phuong Khanh, 21, is another such patient. She quietly pulls a towel over her face as a visitor to the Peace Village ward in Tu Du Hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, starts to take a picture of her enlarged, hydrocephalic head.…  Seguir leyendo »

People gathered for a concert in Tompkins Square Park in 1967. Credit Meyer Liebowitz/The New York Times

In June 1967, in the freewheeling spirit of the times, I dropped out of Antioch College, in Ohio, and hitchhiked to New York. I was 19, mildly though not madly political. In junior high, I had joined civil rights demonstrations. Now I opposed the Vietnam War. But my ideology was simply the counterculture’s: peace and love, plus anything fun that could undermine convention.

I floated into that summer in a luminous haze of artistic impulse, magical thinking and pot smoke. But by September, things were darkening. Reality — menace — began to intrude. I found a focus. I joined the staff of Students for a Democratic Society, the principal organization of the New Left; I became an organizer.…  Seguir leyendo »

Walt Rostow, third from left, speaking to Lyndon Johnson in the Oval Office in 1967. Between them, in the background, is Robert McNamara. Credit LBJ Presidential Library

As Gen. H. R. McMaster, the national security adviser, wrote in his book “Dereliction of Duty,” the early stages of the Vietnam War caught America’s military leaders flat-footed. Having gone through World War II and Korea, they were all ready for a conventional war. But insurgencies and unconventional warfare were something else. As a result, they were inordinately acquiescent to the wishful thinking of their civilian overseers — and no one thought more wishfully about the war than Walt Whitman Rostow.

A Yale Ph.D. and a Rhodes scholar, Rostow left his academic perch at M.I.T. to join the State Department under John F.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of a forest land clearing in South Aceh, Indonesia. Photo: Getty Images

Illegal logging and the associated trade is a major cause of deforestation and forest degradation and accounts for a large proportion of forest sector activities around the world. Trade in illegal timber can be highly lucrative and involves the buying and selling of timber which may have been harvested, transported or processed illicitly.

This year, Vietnam became the seventh country to conclude negotiations with the European Union for a Voluntary Partnership Agreement (VPA). The agreement aims to tackle illegal logging, improve forest governance and promote trade in verified and licensed legal timber products from Vietnam to European and international markets. Earlier in 2017, Indonesia – one of the world’s largest timber exporters – became the first country to officially issue licensed timber under the agreement.…  Seguir leyendo »