Cablegate: Vietnamese Academics Retain Suspicions of the U.S.

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A

1. (U) SUMMARY: At least some Vietnamese think tankers
continue to view the United States with suspicion, both
regarding our international strategy in general and actions
more specifically toward Vietnam. Much of the domestic
sensitivities by these academics nowadays relate to efforts
by "hostile forces" in the U.S. rather than to the USG
itself, which demonstrates some progress in thinking.
Overall, however, academic influence over GVN and CPV policy
is likely limited at best. END SUMMARY.

Using September 11 to pursue unilateralism

2. (U) According to one researcher at the Communist Party
of Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh Political Academy, the United
States has in recent years been "taking advantage" of its
superpower position gradually to establish a "uni-polar
order," placing the world under its "hegemony." U.S.
national strategy and unilateralism have become
"increasingly aggressive" as the USG "continues to
interfere" in the internal affairs of many countries, the
academic commented, while enhancing its relations with
traditional military allies and trying to prevent potential
competitors from Asia and Europe from playing important
roles in international security issues. September 11th was
a turning point in world politics, after which the U.S. took
advantage of its "victim status" to seek a speedier
unipolarization process, he added.

3. (U) Separately, a researcher from the Institute of
American Studies (IAS) analyzed that, with its post-
September 11 "alliance," the U.S. had strengthened its
central position and created an "unprecedented change" in
its relations with major powers such as Russia, China,
India, and Pakistan. He claimed that the U.S. had thereby
conveniently added the "counterterrorism pretext" to earlier
campaigns for globalization and human rights "protection" to
safeguard its own interests throughout the world.

4. (U) Another researcher from the Ministry of Defense's
Military Strategy Institute argued separately that, after
September 11, the U.S. had changed its focus from Europe to
the Asia - Pacific region, and took advantage of the
"counterterrorism pretext" to "lure, bargain, and build up"
pressure on other countries to join the U.S.-led
"Counterterrorism alliance." The adjustments in U.S. global
strategy towards the Asia - Pacific region had actually made
the regional and international situation "more complicated
and difficult," he concluded.

Closer to home

5. (U) The IAS researcher further noted that adjustments
in U.S. security policy have had an "inevitable" impact on
Vietnam, albeit "indirectly," as "Vietnam does not have
terrorists." A researcher at the MFA's Institute for
International Relations (IIR) opined separately that,
although Vietnam had cooperated well with the U.S. on this
front, the two countries still do "not have much to do
together" in this fight, apart from checking bank accounts,
assets, and immigration records of suspected or known

6. (U) Recently, Vietnam and the U.S. have taken "big
steps" in developing their economic, political, diplomatic,
military, and cultural ties, according to the IAS
researcher, but still encounter disputes and serious
disagreements concerning the catfish/basa shrimp dumping
cases, textiles, human rights, democracy, religion, and
ethnicity. His conclusion was that the U.S. is trying to
"direct" Vietnam toward economic and political reforms that
are in the U.S. interest.

Threat levels

7. (U) The MOD researcher claimed that USG campaigns on
democracy and human rights in Vietnam reflected a desire to
impose U.S. values and gradually to change Vietnam's
political regime, a "real threat" to the CPV and GVN.
According to the researcher, the U.S. will not give up the
policy of "interference" in Vietnam's internal affairs even
as the bilateral relationship continues to develop.
Separately, the IIR researcher predicted that there would be
no breakthroughs in U.S.-Vietnam relations in the immediate
future, since they "have already developed to the
temporarily desired extent," except for military-to-military

8. (U) In a March 2004 article in the CPV's "Communist
Review," Dr. Nguyen Van Long, Deputy Director of the Dong
Nai Provincial Propaganda Commission, claimed ongoing
"attempts by the hostile forces to sabotage socialism,"
resorting to comprehensive, violent and anti-revolutionary
measures to reduce the power of or even "kill" the CPV. He
described many recent anti-Vietnam campaigns in the West in
which the "hostile forces" -- notably, overseas Vietnamese
in the U.S. -- publicly "slandered, distorted, attacked, and
smeared" the CPV. He cited a recent letter to Vietnamese
leaders, in which "anti-socialism individuals" objected to
"the dictatorship by the CPV leaders" and called on CPV
leaders "to accept necessary changes, eliminate regulations
in the constitution and laws concerning their indispensable
leadership rights and return to the Vietnamese the rights to
decide their fate and that of their country." He noted a
separate request by "exiled" Pham Chinh Tam that the CPV
"surrender" and be replaced with the so-called "national
council or convention." He explained the recent
establishment by overseas "hostile forces" of the "so-called
'Vietnam National Party'" as a "plot to launch massive
campaigns to win over communism," and establish a multi-
party society and pluralism.

9. (U) In a May 2004 article also in the "Communist
Review," Dr. Le Binh of the CPV's Ho Chi Minh Political
Academy critiqued perceived "attempts to take advantage of
religion and ethnicity against Vietnam's revolution cause."
According to Dr. Binh, "hostile forces" pay "special
attention" to these issues to "sabotage socialism." He
compared these efforts to the collapse of socialism in
Poland and socialist countries in Eastern Europe, while
insisting that "hostile forces" are now "taking advantage of
religion and ethnicity" to conduct "peaceful evolution" and
"create violence" to overthrow the GVN, with special
attention to the Northwest and Central Highlands. He
claimed that these "hostile forces" have taken advantage of
Vietnam's policy of open door and multilateralism to
influence Protestants here in order to "create disorder" and
damage "solidarity," including "illegal missionary work to
instigate" ethnic people in the Central Highlands to stage
"violent" unrest in February 2001 and April 2004. In
addition, the "hostile forces" have recently directed their
attention to the military, he claimed, including urging that
religious believers study in Vietnam's military academies.
Dr. Binh specifically criticized the US-based Ksor Kok for
seeking an "independent Dega state" as well as "one very
wicked plot" by "hostile forces overseas" to lure ethnic
people illegally to cross the border into Cambodia to cause
instability. Additionally, he claimed, several VIPs in the
USG as well as Vietnamese "reactionary elements" had
publicly criticized the GVN for violating religious freedom
and human rights, which he concluded was proof that they
were "taking advantage" of freedoms of belief and religion,
as well as the ethnicity issue, to "sabotage" the revolution
of Vietnam.


10. (U) Despite Vietnam's long history of literacy and
education, Vietnamese academics and think tankers do not
have a notable role in shaping national policy under the
CPV. It is often hard to differentiate what is written and
said for purely ideological reasons from what the academics
personally believe or analyze to be true. Nor is it clear
that their expressed views are at all representative of the
views of a broader public, although they must reflect the
outlook of at least some important elements of the
leadership -- or else they would not be published or uttered
in this hyper-sensitive and self-censoring society. In any
event, clearly some elements of suspicion about U.S. global
goals and intentions specifically toward Vietnam remain
actively under discussion in academic and official circles.
In perhaps a small show of progress, however, the domestic
focus against "hostile forces" has become a more generalized
threat from overseas "reactionary" or "anti-SRV" individuals
and groups, and no longer specifically target the USG as the
alleged agent of change -- unlike continued negative
comments on what the USG is supposedly doing on the
international stage.

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