Carlyle A.

Thayer Presentation to the Australian Night November 8, 2012

Introduction
 Secretary Clinton (2010) “all fundamentals were in place… to take relations… to the next level of engagement”

 Legacy issues no longer centrepiece
 2000 Economics take centre stage

 2008 major turning point

Three Constraints
1. Profound differences over human rights and political freedom 2. Vietnamese conservatives and “plot of peaceful evolution” 3. Expectations regarding economic reform

Outline
1. Evolution of US-Vietnam Defence Cooperation, 2003-07 2. Convergence of National Interests 3. Cooperation in Multilateral Forums 4. Conclusion

1. Evolution of US-Vietnam Defence Cooperation, 2003-07
 2000 William Cohen is first Secretary of Defense to visit Hanoi

 2003 a pivotal year - cooperation and struggle  Defence Minister General Pham Van Tra visits Washington
 Initiation of strategic dialogue

2. Convergence of National Interests
 International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) eased (2007)

 Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung visits US (June 2008)  1st Political, Security and Defense Dialogue (October 2008)

Convergence of National Interests
 Vietnam’s Maritime Strategy to 2015
 Chinese pressures on foreign oil companies  Chinese harassment of U.S. Navy ships – USNS Impeccable incident

 Obama Administration’s response

Convergence of National Interests
 Agreement on ship repairs
 USNS Safeguard (Sept 2009)  USNS Richard E. Byrd (Feb-Mar 2010)  Opening of Cam Ranh Bay  USNS Richard E. Byrd (Aug 2011, June 2012)  USNS Walter S. Diehl (Oct 2011)  USNA Rappahannock (Feb 2012)

Convergence of National Interests
 Defence Minister General Phung Quang Thanh visits US (December 2009)  15th Anniversary of Diplomatic Relations  1st Defense Dialogue at deputy minister of defence level (August 2010)  Statement of Intent on Military Medical Cooperation (August 2011)

USS John D. Stennis April 2009

USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), Pacific Command, Dec 2009

USS George H.W. Bush Aug 2010

USS George Washington Aug 2010

1st Joint Naval Engagement Activities (Aug 2010)

15th Anniversary of US-Vietnam Diplomatic Relations USS John S. McCain makes port call Da Nang

Convergence of National Interests
 2nd Defence Dialogue (Sept 2011)

 Memorandum of Understanding
 Regular high-level dialogue  Maritime security  Search and rescue  Exchanges on UN peacekeeping  Humanitarian assistance/disaster relief

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta Cam Ranh Bay, June 2012

Defence Ministers Meet June 2012

3. Cooperation in Multilateral Forums
 2010 Vietnam assumes Chair of ASEAN  ASEAN Regional Forum  ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM Plus)

 East Asia Summit (2011)

ASEAN Defence Ministers Plus 8
China

Russia

USA

Australia

ASEAN

New Zealand

South Korea India

Japan

4. Conclusion
 Convergence not Congruence over South China Sea issues  US Engagement Policy – potential strategic partner

 Vietnam’s Three “no’s”
 Naval activities not naval exercises

Conclusion
 Vietnam divided internally
 Party ideologues and the “plot of peaceful evolution”  Rethink since June 2012?  Faction supports proactive integration

 Wither the Strategic Partnership?

Carlyle A. Thayer Email: carlthayer@adfa.edu.au

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