Obama’s moral dilemma in Vietnam
By The Hanoist
As the United States deepens strategic ties with Vietnam in response to a rising China, a question now on many minds is how Washington will address Hanoi’s well-documented and continuing human rights abuses. The moral dilemma for the Barack Obama administration is how it can reconcile long-standing US support for democracy and human rights with its current realpolitik aims of winning friends and influencing states concerned by an overbearing Beijing.
These two often contradictory strands of American foreign policy were manifested in the media coverage surrounding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s presentations at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum held in Hanoi in July. Her public remarks before Vietnamese government leaders on upholding human rights dominated the first day’s headline.
On the following day, however, Clinton turned her focus to security matters. Her declaration that the US had a national interest in maintaining an open South China Sea and supported a multilateral solution to the maritime disputes there between China and ASEAN countries became the biggest story out of the ministerial meeting and still reverberates several months later. Continue reading