Protests: Vietnam

Peter Davis, writing from Vietnam in The Nation (posted 3/20/03):

In this country, where a US military attack echoes more loudly perhaps than anywhere else in the world, protesters against the war are expressing themselves from Hanoi in the north to central Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta. At Nha Trang, a resonant place name in our old war, 7,000 people demonstrated yesterday against our new one. The chief sentiment is not support for Saddam Hussein but, in light of the Vietnamese experience with the American military, sympathy for the Iraqi people.

In Hanoi the government condemned the war as "a gross violation of the fundamental principles of international law, including the United Nations charter." Such language is unexceptional in prosperous countries that look at the United States on an almost equal footing economically. In Vietnam, which desperately needs American trade and is urgently trying to attract US investment, the condemnation is an act of courage. Since the normalization of diplomatic relations less than ten years ago, the Vietnamese have worked hard to be friendly to an often indifferent America, and any criticism of the United States is generally muted. The war against Iraq threatens to unravel the meticulously rebuilt relationship.