• Why The Vietnam Meeting Was A Huge Failure

    President Barack Obama had a lot to discuss with Vietnamese communist party leader Nguyễn Phú Trọng during their Tuesday meeting, but some are expressing disappoint human rights were not prioritized.

    “The United States and Vietnam recognize the positive and substantive developments in many areas of cooperation,” the United States and Vietnam said in a joint statement. “Cooperation in addressing war legacy issues as well as in science and technology, education, healthcare, environment, response to climate change, defense, security, human rights, and increasing regional and international cooperation on issues of mutual concern.”

    The two countries have done a lot to improve diplomatic relations in the nearly four decades since the Vietnam War. Despite the improved relationship, the one party Communist regime continues to violate human rights on a mass scale. Marion Smith, the executive director for the Communism Memorial Foundation, called the meeting a failure.

    “The current approach is misguided,” Smith told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Just as misguided as opening up to Cuba.”

    Though issues like trade and security were at the forefront of the meeting, there was still hope the president would find a way to prioritize human rights. Republican lawmakers even urged the president to do so in a letter sent prior to the meeting.

    “We’ve been cooperating with them for three decades,” Smith noted. “This has led to no meaningful reforms in their regime.”

    In Vietnam, people are regularly jailed for their political or religious beliefs. There is no room for dissent and the only option for those who disagree with the state is to keep quiet and not speak out.

    “They are still a gross abuser of human rights,” Smith added. “You cannot have free trade without free people.”

    After the meeting White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest argued the best way to actually address the human rights abuses is to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Democrat lawmakers, unions and other critics have long argued though that the unfinished trade deal will not adequately address the issue in countries like Vietnam.

    “Well, clearly we would like to see a lot more progress be made on the human rights front in Vietnam; that’s true in Cuba as well,” Earnest told reporters. “If we can complete a TPP agreement, and if Vietnam signs on, they would be making specific commitments to better protect and reflect the basic rights of workers in that country. That would be important progress.”

    Smith, however, argues there is plenty the United States can do in the meantime. Vietnam has a much weaker economy so it wants to do business with America. This gives the administration plenty of leverage to demand Vietnam do a much better job at upholding human rights.

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