February 23, 2006

The Wake of War

Vietnam: beacon of freedom?

In another sign that Vietnam is beginning to attract a critical mass of foreign investment, Vietnamese regulators approved Intel Corp.'s plans to proceed with the country's single biggest technology project to date, a chip-assembly plant in Ho Chi Minh City.

Intel's arrival is expected to be announced Tuesday at a ceremony with political leaders and Intel Chairman Craig Barrett. The size of the company's investment, likely to be several hundred million dollars, and its prominence in the technology sector signal a turning point in Vietnam's economic emergence.

The country is already an important exporter of food and textiles, and its success in attracting capital is growing. Merrill Lynch estimates that foreign direct investment in Vietnam reached $5 billion in 2005, an eight-year high. The influx helped lift annual economic growth to rates approaching those of Asia's biggest booming economies, China and India. During the past six years, Vietnam's gross domestic product has grown at an annual average of 7.4%, adjusted for inflation.

Like my Fukuyama post (for which I expected severe opprobrium), it makes me question my neoWilsonian beliefs. We failed to install capitalism and democracy in Vietnam, but they found it. Estonia found it, Socialist India and Communist China are finding it.

I definitely veered toward some basic precepts of isolationism in 2005. Not just the tough times -- a better feeling for the difficulty of affecting change from outside.

Freedom on the March Posted by John Kranz at February 23, 2006 11:24 AM

I wonder if the Soviet Union communist/socialist system not collapsed, if "creeping capitalism" would have had a chance to settle in?
They were the hardest of the hard core, keeping their satellites in line.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 12:02 PM

Man, I just think you have to look at what works. I love the Cuban exiles in Miami for their anti-Communism, but you have to call the embargo a 40 year failure.

This grabs me because Vietnam would seem to have everything against it, but it finds success and freedom -- how do you spread THAT!

Posted by: jk at February 23, 2006 2:25 PM

Yeah, but what if you can't see how good it is on the outside?

F*ck. Even the CIA didn't think the Soviets would call it quits in the 80s.

If you don't know any better, and only know what your told, I can see how you wouldn't understand that there is another way.

Posted by: AlexC at February 23, 2006 4:09 PM

I recently watched a History Channel program on the Vietnam war. The lede promised to relate that war to the one in Iraq. There weren't any direct mentions of Iraq during the program itself but the parallels were there to see.

An invading army attempts to (reject or unseat) a tyrant's hold on the throats of an unwilling populace. Defeating the tyrant is also in the interests of the invading army, for reasons of capitalism and freedom. But there was a difference in Vietnam: a huge proportion of the populace was not only willing, but fiercely dedicated to the communist cause. Ho Chi Minh was a shrewd and effective politician with the persuasive power of Billy Graham. He had plenty of material to work with in his propaganda effort, given that France had been occupying the place as a colony since the end of WWII. And for what reason? Rubber plantations. Michelin tires.

The distinction in Iraq has been and must hasten to materialize, "we are here to liberate and stabilize, then we're going home." I say split the place up into three soverign states and move our forces to the borders between them. Help each state eradicate hostile elements within their state and then let the UN replace our border forces with UN forces.

Whatever the specific route we take to get there, we must let these people run their own affairs entirely as soon as we can. We are not their keepers.

Posted by: johngalt at February 25, 2006 10:39 AM | What do you think? [4]