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US Offers Vietnam Massive Aid Package To Boost Coast Guard

The US offered a massive aid package to Southeast Asia today, with the bulk of it going to Vietnam. The announcement came from Secretary Kerry, who is in Vietnam on his first official trip there. The money, Kerry said, would be used to boost Southeast Asian countries’ maritime defense capabilities.

As Reuters reports, $18 million will go toward strengthening Vietnam’s coastal defense forces, including “fast” patrol boats. Kerry “denied that the assistance had anything to do with China,” as Reuters also noted.


As the most powerful small nation in Southeast Asia, and a claimant to much of the disputed territory in the South China Sea (which Vietnamese call the East Sea), Vietnam is central to the ongoing conflicts between rising China and its smaller neighbors to the south. Though most Vietnamese policy-makers wouldn’t say so in public, Hanoi’s ability to balance China, with which it has had a complicated and testy relationship for centuries, depends heavily on the US. Washington provides strategic depth, American warships visit Vietnamese ports, and the US helps build up Vietnam’s military with millions of dollars in aid. The unstated goal in the US-Vietnam relationship is not to give Vietnam the strength to win a war against China—that would take much, much more money and effort than anyone in Washington or Hanoi is ready for—but to make Beijing hesitate before engaging Vietnam in a fight over military installations or fishing and oil expeditions in the South China Sea.

Secretary Kerry’s visit to Vietnam, and the coastal patrol aid package he promised to Hanoi and other Southeast Asian nations, helps reinforce the US pivot to Asia. Some in Asia and the US doubt Washington’s ability and interest in continuing to be the ultimate provider of security and prosperity there—with good reason. Hopefully this is a sign that Washington has not forgotten its friends.

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  • Mack

    60,000 dead young Americans, and now some more?

    • hai_nguyen

      It’s a wrong issue to reflect on: 1) No one American dies per this action 2) Aid of 18 millions vs. Chinese military budget of 300 billions is only a gesture, not confrontation. 3) Chinese policies and activities are criminal and lawless toward its neighbors, joint them in the South China Sea now or later the coast of California.

      • free_agent

        Like many successful US foreign interventions, in this case we are hiring foreigners to die for the causes we want to promote…

        • Corlyss

          Well, you must admit that there’s something in it for the foreigners too, and I’m not talking about $$$$. It’s their darn country and the have a long history of hostility toward Chinese domination. I think it’s money well spent. The Vietnamese love Americans and America. It’s the French they want to see fry in Hades. They probably aren’t alone.

  • S.C. Schwarz

    The point of this sort of thing is exactly that there won’t be any more dead Americans in SE Asia. If other countries are strong China will have to find peaceful ways to settle these issues and no one need die.

  • TommyTwo

    History has a wicked sense of humor. (Patrol boats, no less!)

    By the way, you forgot the caption for the graphic: “We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”

  • Corlyss

    Batchelor’s professional’s analysis of the Chinese double dog daring the US to do something about the exclusion zone:

    ‘A reckless manouever by a Chinese ship; cannot do so without orders from Beijing. Clearly an attempt to intimidate the US to get it out of the South China Sea and away from the Liaoning. Very poor policy; expect trouble ahead. Sign of weakness by Xi, since it’s obvious that in the long term this will not work out well for China; means that internal problems are severe. JB: “Frail? No – the ash heap of history” ‘

    • free_agent

      You must admit that it’s a well-played trick. It is played where the asymmetries favor the US: How much money can you pay? The US can finance the Vietnamese to harass the Chinese *forever*. The Soviets did it to the US back in the 1960’s and 1970’s, but had nowhere near the financial predominance that the US now has.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    $32.5 million $18 million of which goes to Vietnam, is massive? I’m all for organizing an economic and military alliance in Asia to contain China, but let’s be real, we give billions to Egypt, Israel, Afghanistan, Pakistan, NATO, etc… $32.5 million doesn’t even cover the US State Department’s monthly Liquor bill.

  • free_agent

    ‘Kerry “denied that the assistance had anything to do with China,””

    which is diplomat-speak for “The assistance has everything to do with China, which we will loudly deny to make sure that you understand it is true”.

  • Andrew Allison

    Kerry selling “swift” boats to Vietnam?

  • Thinh Duong

    American made the RIGHT MOVE this time. To the whole world, no any other nation could understand well and fight off China effectively like VIETNAM. Wel,. VN had been fighting off against China for…thousands of years-the last one was 1979 Sino invasion of North VN- American military might stay or leave depends on their national interest upon the occupied territory…but VN has no choice but to fight to the death for her own survival.- and they are GOOD at it- No wonder Japan, India,… now USA, not mention about other Asian neighbours coming in to help VN. Hat off to Vietnamese people. Vietnam is always in my heart.

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