Viet­nam asks too much of the U.S.

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - John D. Howard, Ar­ling­ton

Hoang Binh Quan’s July 5 op-ed, “A flour­ish­ing re­la­tion­ship with Viet­nam,” men­tioned po­ten­tial U.S. hu­man­i­tar­ian aid to Viet­nam to help heal the wounds of a war that ended four decades ago.

When Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter reached out to Viet­nam in 1977 in an at­tempt to nor­mal­ize re­la­tions be­tween our coun­tries, Viet­nam’s in­sis­tence on aid, or repa­ra­tions, led to the fail­ure of the ef­fort. A year later, the Viet­namese dropped the aid con­di­tion, but it was too late. The United States had larger is­sues in the Pa­cific, and Viet­nam was on the back burner. It was not un­til the Clin­ton ad­min­is­tra­tion that diplo­matic re­la­tions with Viet­nam were ini­ti­ated.

The Viet­namese now seem to be wav­ing the aid flag as a con­di­tion of im­proved re­la­tions. Ex­panded ties, on eco­nom­ics and se­cu­rity, ben­e­fit both coun­tries as a counter to China’s in­creas­ing ag­gres­sive­ness. Mr. Quan should not over­play his hand by at­tach­ing aid con­di­tions to the mat­u­ra­tion of the U.S.-Viet­nam re­la­tion­ship.

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