Norman Mailer’s late Sixties book by that name is timely again. Pres. Obama is visiting our former foe, and yesterday he announced a lift on the long ban of lethal weapons sales there. He’s bartering for dock space at Cam Ranh Bay for our Pacific Fleet, so the armada has faster access to the South China Sea. That’s why we’re there.
China has been increasing its presence on the South China Sea, which is a very busy place. Bounded by The Philippines to the East and Vietnam to the South, it is a showplace for martial exhibitions and a forum for conflicting sovereignty claims. In short, it is a flashpoint. Parking the US fleet in Vietnam is like putting missiles in Cuba., minus the existential threat. It’s a way of warning China not to pick on our old friends, the Philippines, or our new best friend, Vietnam.
Hopefully, it has not been forgotten that Indo-China is not a puppet show. Vietnam is suspicious of plays for dominance by all large powers. Same as it ever was.