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The end of the war

Some of President Bill Clinton’s advisers urged him not to normalize relations with Vietnam.
Fortunately, it appears he listened instead to a Vietnam war hero and others who said the time has come to establish full diplomatic ties with our former enemy.
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona spent five years as a prisoner of war; he endured torture and deprivation. Yet the former Navy pilot fully supports the action President Clinton took on Tuesday.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last month, Sen. McCain said: “We ought to (normalize relations with Vietnam) for economic reasons, we ought to do it for diplomatic reasons, but also it would be a very important part of the healing process–to seal the final chapter.”
Two other decorated Vietnam veterans now serving in Washington–Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Bob Kerrey, D-Neb.–also called for normalization. So did Gen. John Vessey, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and top MIA negotiator for the Reagan and Bush administrations.
Critics of normalization say the final chapter on the war should not be closed until the MIA issue is resolved completely. But as Sen. McCain has noted, the Vietnamese government has met all the conditions laid down by the Reagan and Bush administrations–in fact, only 55 cases remain of U.S. servicemen last seen alive and still among the missing.
That compares with 8,100 Americans who fought in the Korean War but remain unaccounted for and nearly 80,000 on the list from World War II. Should we sever ties with Germany and Japan pending a full accounting?
True, Vietnam is an emerging market with vast potential for U.S. companies– Xerox Corp. and Eastman Kodak Co. already are there. And true, ties with Vietnam would boost U.S. security interests in the region.
But neither reason is more important than the other one given by Sen. McCain: writing an end to a bitter chapter in this country’s history.
“What we ought to do is what’s best now for America,” he said, “and that certainly is normalization.”
–Rochester Business Journal


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