1994 and a few lessons from lifting the Vietnam trade embargo

It was 21 years ago today that President Clinton and the US Congress lifted the Vietnam trade embargo:

“President Clinton lifted the embargo primarily to encourage cooperative efforts between the U.S. and Vietnam to discover the fate of American prisoners of war (POWs) and missing in action (MIA) who had remained unaccounted for after the war.

He also believed that improved business relations between the U.S. and Vietnam would benefit the economies of both nations.”

It’s a mixed record on the MIAs and terrible on the economy.

Vietnam is still a very poor country.   It is a basically a destination for large companies looking for very cheap labor.  “Made in Vietnam” means something made by a poor soul earning nothing while some party leader “wines & dines” with a foreign CEO!

Vietnam’s human rights record is dismal, as reported by the US State Department:

“The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party,the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV), led by General Secretary Nguyen PhuTrong, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, and President Truong Tan Sang. The most recent National Assembly elections, held in 2011, were neither free nor fair.

Authorities maintained effective control over the security forces. Security forces committed human rights abuses.

The most significant human rights problems in the country continued to be severe
government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to
change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and
corruption in the judicial system and police.

Specific human rights abuses included continued police mistreatment of suspects
during arrest and detention, including the use of lethal force as well as austere
prison conditions; arbitrary arrest and detention for political activities; and denial
of the right to a fair and expeditious trial.

Political influence, endemic corruption, and inefficiency continued to distort the judicial system significantly.

The government limited freedoms of speech and press and suppressed dissent;
increasingly restricted internet freedom; reportedly continued to be involved in
attacks against websites containing criticism; maintained surveillance of dissidents;
and continued to limit privacy rights and freedoms of assembly, association, and

How do you say “Comite de la Defensa de la Revolucion” in Vietnamese?

The Vietnam experience confirms one thing.  You won’t bring freedom or prosperity as long as you maintain a communist party elite running the country or doing business with foreign investors.

Lifting the Vietnam embargo was great for the few in power in that country.   It has not helped or been very helpful for the people in that enslaved country.

Let’s remember that when we hear that “tourists” and “dollars” are going to help the people of Cuba.