Yesterday, President Joe Biden was in Hanoi, Vietnam, where he and General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong announced they were elevating U.S.-Vietnam relations from the comprehensive partnership agreement President Barack Obama signed in 2013 to a comprehensive strategic partnership, Vietnam’s highest tier of international partnership. The earlier measure called for cooperation in transnational crime and public health; the new measure will boost Vietnam's high-technology sector and security.
As a Foreign Service Officer with Congo-burnished credentials for operating in ‘sticky’ situations, I twice (1965 & 1967) refused an ‘invitation’ from our ambassador in Saigon to join him. Then it was clear to me that there was no light at the end of the tunnel.
We were engaged against virulent nationalism and Ho, a patriotic leader, while there was a government merry go round in Saigon. This Greek tragedy ended with President Johnson not running for re-election, tens of thousands of dead Americans, and millions of dead Vietnamese.
Back then who could have imagined that an American president would be visiting the Ho Chin Minh palace and be cementing a strategic alliance with Vietnam against China (historically an enemy of Vietnam)?
Of course, growing up in World War II, I was taught to hate the Japanese and the Germans, who, not long after the end of WW II, became vital American allies.
One of the few constants in recent history is that Russia under Putin and China under Xi I would consider irreversible enemies.
I applaud President Biden for his effective strategy in Asia.
I also salute him for honoring John McCain, who served his country nobly. That Bone Spur Donald denigrated Senator McCain by declaring that ‘he didn’t consider a hero a person who was captured’ and Lindsay Graham took a 180 degree turn against his once-close-friend McCain highlights the duplicity of Trumpublicans.
Senator McCain, while dying of cancer, made a heroic effort to come to the Senate and preserve Obamacare with his vote. I consider McCain an American hero.
I don't think we need to worry about the Vietnamese and Chinese - they've not-so cordially hated each other ever since the Han ran the ancestors of the Vietnamese out of South China in around 2,000 B.C., a little fact all the New Frontiersmen geniuses were unaware of back in the day that might have changed a lot had they had the brains to have brains and find out. Too bad FDR didn't live to carry out his post-war colonial policy: the European imperialists denied return to their southeast Asian colonies, the US working with the former colonies to bring them to independence. The Vietnamese were the only Southeast Asians not to welcome the Japanese kicking the French out, the way the Burmese and Malayans and Indonesians welcomed the British and Dutch getting kicked out, and they were our only indigenous allies during the war. Most people don't know that the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence is ours, with a few editorial word changes regarding locality. Had we recognized them in 1946, the situation today would likely be what it is, except 58,000 of my brothers and sisters would have lived to see old age, along with their kids and grandkids - and an untold millions of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians would have gotten the same break.
This letter highlights the huge difference between tfg's non-existent foreign policy aside from his fascination with dictators, and the skills and diplomacy of President Biden and his team since he took office.
Dr Heather closes by stating: "In his speech, Biden recalled Senator McCain as a man who always put country “above party, above politics, above his own person. This day reminds us we must never lose that sense of national unity. So, let that be the common cause of our time: let us honor September 11 by renewing our faith in one another.”
I wish that it were possible, but this country has never been so divided as it is today. Perhaps the next generation can make it so. My faith in our fellow citizens has been sorely tested ever since 2015, when so many chose to support (and then in 2016 elect) a completely unqualified candidate as POTUS, and even more incredibly, that he is once again the leading candidate for another run despite having proven to be a complete and utter failure as POTUS, as well as facing criminal charges. Surreal.
Reading about people's recollections of how personally, gut-level devastating 9/11 was to them and their perception the world as Americans is strange to me every year. At 28, I have no recollection of it at all. I *could* have had a memory of it on TV, but my parents thought it far too scary a concept to be appropriate for a 1st grader, and it wasn't like the other 7-year-olds routinely brought up geopolitical dangers over apple juice. So it exists in my mind only as a learned historical event. I simply cannot feel the same collective trauma of something brought up from memory. I feel the same removed sense of "Wow, how terrible, I can see how that might have shook things up!" as Pearl Harbor, or the Kennedy Assassination. A bit of YouTube footage for a research project ("These people seem so devestated!"), rather than a knot in the stomach ("That was so devestating!"). And I'm not a wee innocent babe; I have friends who are having kids and saving up to buy houses!
My best insight is that the real reverberation of the event was not the malicious plan and tragic loss of the attack itself, but of how it seemed to form a dividing line for most Americans after which their assumption of safety in the world was shattered irrevocably. The sense of safety was not the only casualty; the political events of the years that followed - from more forever war to the crash of '08 to the return of paranoid nationalism that led to the Tea Party - also took away a sense of the inevitability of American progress and prosperity.
I cannot feel that loss, at least not directly. I have never felt the presence of those comforting assumptions of safety and prosperity, and I wager no one younger has been able to either. We have simply occupied a different America. Seeing media and hearing stories from decades past is like connecting with an alien wavelength. I know people romanticize and nostalgia is a drug... but could people have ever really been this generally assured and happy? (White people at least?) Wild!
Today Joyce Vance compared the attack on Ground Zero with the attack on our democracy that occurred in spiritual form upon tfg's election, and in physical form 4 years later on our Capitol. Only Joyce insinuates that this attack is more damaging and confounding; 9/11 provoked briefly overwhelming unity in the face of an attack from without, but 1/6 could do no such thing, as it was an attack from within. It is now the other Americans we have reason to guard against. I am sure many would think it crude for her to draw such a comparison, but I thank her for it. Indeed, the events of the last few years have provoked a new unity and purpose among pro-democracy Americans. It involves all generations, but is an especially acute fight for we younger ones. While the brief post-9/11 unity devolved into poisonous nationalism, this fight will likely have more staying power, as it looks to not just protect, but to tend and improve.
Those of us who cannot remember 9/11 have heard the stories of a safer world and an America of upward mobility and neighborly cooperation. We would like to get a chance to experience that for ourselves. Now, please!
Thanks to all who help in the fight, and thanks to Dr. Richardson for her tireless scholarship! I hope you all are having a great week so far!
Imagine an 80-year-old doing all this in a span of a few days. There’s no way!
Thank you, Dr, Richardson, for reminding us of all the important events happening on this day. It i so nice to once again feel proud to be an American,. I am so thankful to have a real statesman for President once again. We need a prolonged period of peace to fix all the wrongs - the dire state of the Climate being the most pressing; putting a lid on the American oligarchs and forcing them to pay their fare share of the taxes in this country; improved medical care for all Americans; improved education; sufficient adequate housing; and nutrition for all. I'm so thankful that President Biden has started the ball rolling to mitigate the damage already starting due to the rising temperatures across the globe.
Heather this was a great newsletter on President Bidens foreign policy and what he has accomplished. It was touching to see him pay tribute to Senator John McCain.
Heather thank you, magnificent analysis! Who else but Biden in the country would realize the importance of the international relationships described. If some are not perfect this is not a perfect world. The former guy understanding of foreign policy is where can I build a hotel or casino. Could not have been a worse model as President.
Twas a day of reflection. Our country lost its pride and innocence on 9/11 on top of many loved ones. Those who were there, suffer debilitating diseases. After Vietnam, we invaded the wrong country, the wrong dictator was captured. The one responsible killed a much loved reporter, an American citizen. Then he gave Trump’s son-in-law $2 billion dollars. Corruption at it’s best and the Biden-Harris admin is trying like hell to clean up some of the messes. No Republican should be voted into any office. I will leave you with a George Carlin explanation about Dems and Repubs:
“ Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) called the money “ransom” and said it was a “craven act of appeasement.” ”
Fiddlesticks. If Biden would leave that money and those prisoners where they are, Mr. Cotton would say it was a “craven act of disloyalty” and that Biden should shame himself for abandoning American prisoners.
Just a call out to readers here. I'm 49 but I feel ever so young as I have no memory of the Vietnam War. I only know that my best friend from way back in middle school came over on a boat with his family ... But I was only just born at the end of the Vietnam War, so I appreciate the comments of people 1 or 2 or 3 decades my senior.
In his speech (commemorating 9/11) Biden recalled Senator McCain as a man who always put country “above party, above politics, above his own person. This day reminds us we must never lose that sense of national unity. So, let that be the common cause of our time: let us honor September 11 by renewing our faith in one another.”
Both my grandfathers died long before I was born, one at his ranch of Rocky Mountain Tick Fever, one in a horrible accident at his sawmill. I love Biden’s words- he sort of seems like the wise grandfather of our country right now, highlighting how we all can move through some rough times. Thank you, Heather, for giving us this picture of this man.
Reposting this all over! Great news about our President Joe!
Thank you so much Heather. I found myself with with a roller coaster of emotion -beginning with a new sense of hope and optimism -for a more collaborative and peaceful world.
Then I saw Tom Cotton -and of course recall his work to destroy the P5 + 1 Nuclear Agreement with Iran. And then I thought, instead of unfreezing $6 billion dollars which already belongs to Iran -couldn't Tom Cotton, Josh Hawley, and other members of the Congressional Treason/Insurrection Caucus simply been part of the hostage exchange?
Finally I thought, no, because then President Biden and the negotiation team would have had to have unfrozen far more money.
I am amazed foreign countries have faith in our government knowing how any agreement can flip completely every 4 years as proven during the Trump administration . If Biden is re-elected we have more of a chance to fulfill our promises.
How pathetic, how petty! Former president Donald Trump’s White House team requested that a warship named for John McCain, his father, and his grandfather, be hidden from Trump during a visit to Japan. Nearly half the American voting public still wants to put our national cry baby back in office. Whatever for, so he can splatter another Big Mac on the executive dining room wall in a juvenile temper tantrum the next time he can't have things his way?