Obama in Vietnam

“Big nations should not bully smaller ones”, said President Obama in his speech in Hanoi, Vietnam, during his visit there on May 24, in reference to Vietnam’s disputes with China. Of course, he’s right. Big nations should not bully smaller ones; they should attack, invade and, in the words of US Air Force Chief of Staff, Curtis LeMay, during the Vietnam war, should “bomb them back into the Stone Age”. They should drop tens of thousands of bombs, including cluster bombs, “Daisy cutter” bombs, “Walleye” bombs, “Pineapple” bombs, agent orange and many more, including both “dumb bombs” and “smart bombs”, and when they decide to leave, when there is no more military advantage to be gained in conducting further bombings, they should “carpet bomb” them and “kill anything that moves” and “anything that’s alive”. The Chinese need to learn from the Americans and who better to teach them that than someone who, during his eight years of presidency, has attacked, invaded or bombed “to Stone Age” several “smaller” nations which couldn’t defend themselves against the US?

Of course, major US news organizations who reported or broadcast his speech would see no irony here. This is how New York Times reported on the speech: “As Obama Presses Vietnam on Rights, Activists Are Barred From Meeting, … underscoring the gulf with Hanoi on human rights”. Yes, the chief peace maker, arbiter and human rights advocate, the United States of America, is on the one hand concerned about China bullying Vietnam, and on the other, with human rights in Vietnam. “The White House had requested the meeting as a signal to Vietnam’s Communist government that the United States cares about human rights here”, went on the article. Yes, the US cares about human rights in Vietnam. That’s why it bombed the country “back to the Stone Age” and killed 3 million of its population. 

Mr. Obama stressed “accountability with respect to government”, by which I suppose he means that the government should be accountable for its actions. Again, they should learn from Obama, because what government accountability means to him is that when someone blows the whistle on a government action, such as waging an unjust war and invading a country, on false pretexts, you put him in solitary confinement for three years, torture him and then sentence him to 35 years in prison, and when someone reveals that the “government” is spying on all its citizens without a cause or warrant, you try to have him caught overseas, arrested and flown home to “face justice”!

New York Times went on to quote John Sifton of Human Rights Watch (HRW), who criticized Obama for seeking closer ties with Vietnam, saying that “Vietnam has demonstrated itself that it doesn’t deserve the closer ties the U.S. is offering. Detaining or preventing civil society from meeting President Obama is not just an insult to the president, it’s also a human rights abuse in itself, a deprivation of the right to freedom of expression and freedom of movement”. As if the US is doing the Vietnamese nation a favor by “offering closer ties”; as if the “closer ties”, which Vietnam “doesn’t deserve”, is meant to benefit Vietnam, in any way, rather than American corporations. If “Human Rights Watch” were truly concerned about the people of Vietnam and their rights, it would oppose “closer ties” because of what such ties would mean for the Vietnamese people, which a look at nations that do have such close ties with the US would quickly reveal, not because some activists were barred from meeting the head of US imperialism, which “was an insult to the President”. 

But, this also goes to show the mindset among such bourgeois pro-imperialist “human rights” organizations of the West. Even assuming that close ties with imperialism would be beneficial to Vietnam, which HRW takes for granted, its mindset is typical within Western imperialism: that to punish a government, you punish its people by refusing to lift the embargo. This is the mindset that leads to devastating economic sanctions against “smaller nations”, causing tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of deaths and even wars that end up reducing a nation to a pile of rubble, because their government didn’t respect the people’s “human rights” and therefore they “deserved” what they got. If economic sanctions, not to mention bombing attacks, isn’t bullying, I don’t know what is.

If we accept that Obama cares for human rights for the Vietnamese people, we should also accept that we’re all 4 year olds. US objectives in Vietnam are as much about its neighbor China, which he referred to as “bigger nation” in his speech, as they are about Vietnam, itself. As far as the former is concerned, what he’s trying to do is reinforce and widen the territorial gap and dispute between the two nations and use that to heavily arm Vietnam against China. Not only does that give the US an opportunity to sell tons of new expensive weapons to Vietnam, which benefits American weapons manufacturers, it also prepares conditions for future military confrontation with China by turning one more of its neighbors into a virtual military base, thus surrounding China, similar to what it has succeeded in doing, to a large degree, against Russia, making those neighboring nations targets for a possible nuclear war.

As for Vietnam, itself, in addition to securing huge profits for US arms manufacturers, also by bringing Vietnam into the community of nations within the so-called “free trade zone” of the TPP, it opens up a new source of cheap labor and raw materials and a large new market for US corporations. This is part of “his” (more accurately of the US military industrial complex he’s acting on behalf) “pivot to China” strategy, which was from the outset as much military in nature as it was economic. For imperialism, these two are never separate or far apart and always go hand in hand. US military paves the way and ensures profitable conditions for them, as the corporations come in and operate under the watchful eyes and guard of the military, often in places where they could not have existed were it not for the military wing of the military-industrial complex.

“Big nations should not bully smaller ones”. They should “bomb them to Stone Age”, impose an embargo against them and then return and arm them against their bigger neighbor in preparation for military confrontation which puts them at harm’s length, and they should of course exploit their cheap labor and natural resources to enrich one’s multinational corporations.


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