The United States and Vietnam: Three Years After Normalization

Report of a Vantage Conference
December 11-13, 1998
Wye River Conference Centers
Queenstown, Maryland

Conference Description

Three years after the United States and Vietnam established diplomatic relations, the pace of progress on economic and trade relations, political consultations, and other aspects of the relationship has considerably slowed. At the same time academic exchanges, military visits, American NGO work in Vietnam, and other ties have increased—though they remain far below the levels of intensity and activity undertaken with China, Vietnam's great neighbor to the north and a nation of strategic interest to the United States.

A number of factors have also played a role in moving US-Vietnam relations from the front burner in 1995 to the back burner in 1998. They include: ambivalence in the US policy community; the Asian financial crisis; bureaucratism, corruption, and policy caution in Vietnam; the resurgent US interest in China and continuing concern for China in Vietnam; Vietnam's failure to effectively reach beyond the Washington and San Francisco policy communities into American local communities, institutions, and businesses.

This paradox of simultaneous stagnation and progress in American relations with Vietnam three years after normalization is the subject of this Stanley Foundation conference. The conference will first review and discuss developments in the bilateral relationship in Vietnam as well as in Southeast Asia and then more broadly in Asia during the three years since normalization. We'll then turn to an in-depth discussion of methods for reinvigorating progress in deepening ties between Vietnam and the United States.