More than 60 years after the start of the Vietnam War, Vietnam remains stuck between the same two major super powers that previously tried to take advantage of it. In the story “Vietnam ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ as US-Russian rivalry deepens” by An Dien in Thanh Nien News March 25, 2015, Dien describes the new angle of the old problem. Dien explains that on March 11, 2015 the “US had asked Vietnam to stop letting Russia use the strategic Cam Ranh Bay to refuel nuclear-capable bombers”. The story continues to describe how the US had be increasingly interested in the area since China had moved an infamous oil rig into the waters last May. In 2011 the Obama administration had announced “vaguely assertive plans” for a “pivot” towards the Asia Pacific region and wanted greater access to the Cam Ranh Bay as part of this pivot.
Dien goes on to point out that when other Asian countries tried to “benefit from enhanced military relations with the US” they found themselves “drawn deeper into the web of regional and global rivalry and geopolitics”. Experts believe that the US will more likely request strategic assistance of Vietnam rather than provided it as “the US-China and the US-Russia ‘competition’ deepen”.
The Russian Ambassador declares that Vietnam and Russia are “independent sovereign states that ‘do not need any instructions or recommendations from anyone, and [they] do not intend to listen to requirements”. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) claims its members must stay strong and not be forced to pick sides for the “benefit of their own relationships with big powers”. However, a maritime security researcher admits that there is a “marked lack of strategic trust between the major powers” that leaves countries like Vietnam “caught up in the web of strategic distrust” and this competition has “intruded into the politics of the South China Sea”.
The power struggle playing out today is reflective of the same struggle during the Vietnam War as depicted in Uwe Siemon-Netto’s Duc: Triumph of the Absurd A Reporter’s Love for the Abandoned People of Vietnam. The Vietnamese are wise not to pick sides and look out for their own best interest, as quoted by Siemon-Netto “[t]he enemy… does not possess… the psychological and political means to fight a long-drawn-out war” (140), nor do they want to. The US is protected by distance and should not believe that they can make demands of other countries. Vietnam was already poised in a struggle between these two super powers and they were eventually deserted and left to pick up the pieces on their own. Siemon-Netto claims “it was a political movement with this blood-curdling history that the Congress of the United States delivered to South Vietnam when it voted to stop almost all further military aid” (249). The US helps out of convenience to themselves as any country would; therefore, Vietnam is better off depending upon only themselves and to act as they wish without taking sides in a controversy between the powers that helped to ravage their country and then left them to clean up the mess.
Dien, An. “Vietnam ‘caught between a rock and a hard place’ as US Russia rivalry deepens.” Thanh Nien News. Web. 25 March 2015.
Siemon-Netto, Uwe. Duc Second Edition: Triumph of the Absurd A Reporter’s Love For the Abandoned People of Vietnam. Uwe Siemon-Netto, 2014. Print.