Is Normalization Effective?

Friday, January 22, 2010
The unconditional normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam began in 1995, when the two sides opened embassies in each other's capitals. Since then, the normalization process has accelerated and bilateral ties have expanded, including the signing of a bilateral trade agreement (BTA), which was approved by Congress in 2001.

So have normalized relations led to democratic reforms, or at least to a greater tolerance for political dissent, in Vietnam?

Apparently not.

According to yesterday's Wall Street Journal, "Vietnam Convicts Prominent Dissidents,"

"Vietnam convicted and sentenced four prominent dissidents to lengthy jail terms Wednesday for attempting to overthrow the government, in a fresh demonstration of how the country's increasingly conservative Communist leaders are stifling dissent—and worrying some of their leading trading partners."

Actually, let us clarify this news item,

"Vietnam convicted and sentenced four prominent dissidents to lengthy jail terms Wednesday for [voicing their opposition to that country's dictatorship], in a fresh demonstration of how the country's increasingly [repressive] Communist leaders are stifling dissent—and worrying some of their leading trading partners [that hope such behavior doesn't cut into their profits]."