Sunday, August 28, 2011

Inaugural Speech by Abraham Lincoln

In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of this office."

I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that:

I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.

Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations and had never recanted them; and more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:

Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.

I now reiterate these sentiments, and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in any wise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given will be cheerfully given to all the States when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause - as cheerfully to one section as to another.

There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labour. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:

No person held to service or labour in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein be discharged from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labour may be due.

It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution - to this provision as much as to any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves whose cases come within the terms of this clause "shall be delivered up" their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not with nearly equal unanimity frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?

There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by national or by State authority, but surely that difference is not a very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but little consequence to him or to others by which authority it is done. And should anyone in any case be content that his oath shall go un-kept on a merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?

Again: In any law upon this subject ought not all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so that a free man be not in any case surrendered as a slave? And might it not be well at the same time to provide by law for the enforcement of that clause in the Constitution which guarantees that "the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States"?

I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations and with no purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules; and while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much safer for all, both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by all those acts which stand un-repealed than to violate any of them trusting to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.

It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President under our National Constitution. During that period fifteen different and greatly distinguished citizens have in succession administered the executive branch of the Government. They have conducted it through many perils, and generally with great success. Yet, with all this scope of precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional term of four years under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.

I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever, it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself.

Again: If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it - break it, so to speak - but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?

Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was "to form a more perfect Union."

But if destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.

It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void, and that acts of violence within any State or States against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary or revolutionary, according to circumstances.

I therefore consider that in view of the Constitution and the laws the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability, I shall take care, as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself.

In doing this there needs to be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object. While the strict legal right may exist in the Government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to do so would be so irritating and so nearly impracticable withal that I deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.

The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of the Union. So far as possible the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favourable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed unless current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper, and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.

That there are persons in one section or another who seek to destroy the Union at all events and are glad of any pretext to do it I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there be such, I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union may I not speak?

Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories, and its hopes, would it not be wise to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills you fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all the real ones you fly from, will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?

All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right plainly written in the Constitution has been denied? I think not. Happily, the human mind is so constituted that no party can reach to the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied. If by the mere force of numbers a majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional right, it might in a moral point of view justify revolution; certainly would if such right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to them by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the Constitution that controversies never arise concerning them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight can anticipate nor any document of reasonable length contain express provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be surrendered by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say.

From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies, and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There is no other alternative, for continuing the Government is acquiescence on one side or the other. If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will divide and ruin them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new confederacy a year or two hence arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it? All who cherish disunion sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a new union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed secession?

Plainly the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible. The rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

I do not forget the position assumed by some that constitutional questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court, nor do I deny that such decisions must be binding in any case upon the parties to a suit as to the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the Government. And while it is obviously possible that such decision may be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid citizen must confess that if the policy of the Government upon vital questions affecting the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made in ordinary litigation between parties in personal actions the people will have ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned their Government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them, and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to political purposes.

One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave clause of the Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, can not be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the separation of the sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section, while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other.

Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you can not fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I can not be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendments, I fully recognize the rightful authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favour rather than oppose a fair opportunity being afforded the people to act upon it. I will venture to add that to me the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take or reject propositions originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse. I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution - which amendment, however, I have not seen - has passed Congress, to the effect that the Federal Government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say that, holding such a provision to now be implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.

The Chief Magistrate derives all his authority from the people, and they have referred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves can do this if also they choose, but the Executive as such has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present Government as it came to his hands and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his successor.

Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences, is either party without faith of being in the right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with His eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail by the judgment of this great tribunal of the American people.

By the frame of the Government under which we live this same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have with equal wisdom provided for the return of that little to their own hands at very short intervals. While the people retain their virtue and vigilance no Administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new Administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favoured land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect, and defend it."

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.


Subject: [VISAO1] Fw: [clubVLC] Courage!

What is the meaning of courage?

Is it to fight a bull in a bullfight?

Is it to fly a fighter plane in combat?

Is it to practice free fall parachuting?

Is it bungee jumping?
 Wild water rafting? 

Bullshit! Those are nothing!

THIS, my friend, is COURAGE!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Communist Vietnam

Communist Vietnam's $35 bowl of noodle soup

By Alastair Leithead
BBC News, Hanoi

 The shell is communist, but the guts are capitalist
Restaurant owner on Vietnam's political system

Inside a Hanoi restaurant

As the communist country of Vietnam increasingly embraces the ways of capitalism, 
the gap between rich and poor is rapidly expanding.

Street cafe

I have had some odd days, but Sunday in Hanoi was certainly a very odd day.
It started off with me gawping at a preserved and somewhat waxy-looking man, then there was a taste of Vietnam's most expensive soup - and a sight of its most costly car.
Uncle Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam's founding father, supposedly asked to be cremated rather than to lie - as he does - in the middle of a darkened mausoleum, surrounded by soldiers who impatiently usher visitors to complete one lap briskly, in silence, hands out of pockets, hats off.I dropped in on the inaugural meeting of the Harley Davidson owners' club before getting a touch of realism, supping local beer cross-legged on the floor of a locals' restaurant.
Hundreds of Vietnamese people - and tourists - queue all the time to see him, just as he was when he died more than 40 years ago.
The Communist Party here does not like change but, with skyscrapers going up around Uncle Ho's memorial, change is coming to him.
Rich customers
The next stop was for "pho" - the breakfast staple, a noodle soup that fuels the nation and steams from big pots in the cold Hanoi air, usually selling for $1 (£0.60) a bowl.

Many people still eat at roadside cafes
But we were not going to any old street-food joint, we were to sample the country's most expensive pho - at $35 a bowl.
Two Porsche 4x4s were parked outside the restaurant. I did not even know Porsche did 4x4s.
The restaurant owner talked us through the quality of his Japanese beef, the cleanliness of his kitchen and how much the rich are willing to stump up to slurp down Vietnam's priciest soup.
One diner admitted he had had the house special and, when I asked him his profession, he almost apologetically told me he worked for the government.
We were eyed suspiciously by a party Central Committee member slipping out of the door and into his Mercedes, as our minder sampled the produce, admitting later it was not $35 better than her usual breakfast spot.
'Odd bedfellows'
Yes, our minder...
The "party" also likes to be in control. This is not a communist country that we might imagine from the 1950s or 60s.
Yes, the red flags are flying - on every street corner - but the hammer and sickle flutters across the road from the Chanel store, the old-style propaganda posters on guard near Louis Vuitton.
Icons of socialism and capitalism - odd bedfellows.

They seemed surprisingly straight with us - honest about the idiosyncrasies - I supposed at the very least I was expecting them to be formal and stern, maybe even evangelistic.Even the minders laugh and shrug when you ask how ideology and modern reality sit together.
The restaurant owner explained his interpretation: "The shell is communist but the guts are capitalist," he said.
We had seen the shell - the collective of comrades at the Party Congress unanimously agreeing on the country's new leadership.
"Any objections?" the speaker asked with a cursory glance.
Of course not. Questioning the system is not tolerated.
But then all the fighting and bickering, debating and arguing, happened behind closed doors. The appearance of Unity is Strength.
And we had seen the guts - a morning with one of the country's richest men did that - his multi-million-dollar development (soon to be the tallest building in central Vietnam), his seafront hotel and condo blocks at $2m a flat, his industrial parks and his aim to make even more money by replacing the shirt and shoe factories with high-tech electronics.
"If the party goes a different way from the people of Vietnam, then surely they cannot survive," he bravely quipped.
You'd never see so many high-end bikes in one place anywhere else in the world
Expat member of Vietnam's Harley Davidson club
The confidence of wealth.
And there was plenty of confidence about the 26-year-old who showed me round the custom-built Rolls Royce Phantom which stared snobbishly out of the showroom, sneering down its bonnet at the hawkers who passed by wearing their old conical bamboo hats.
He oozed bling. You can afford a gold mobile phone and diamond-encrusted watch when you own a dealership selling cars as expensive as these.
And the Harley Davidson club? "You'd never see so many high-end bikes in one place anywhere else in the world," one of the gnarled expat members explained to me.
And it is certainly an expensive habit. Bikers are supposed to be rebellious. In a way here I guess they are, but their engines just roared money at the poor of Hanoi.
A day with the haves when there are so many millions of have-nots.
After the excitement, I met a local journalist for a drink.
She described the intimidation and late-night calls, the phone taps and tails. Those who challenge the party end up in jail.
The shell is still strong. The principles preserved in Uncle Ho's vault still prevail.
There is a knack to making money here, there is a system. But as cash pours in and the economy heats up, change is unstoppable.
The party can try to ride it and guide it, but it would take a firm hand indeed to hold back the tide.

Friday, January 21, 2011


By Richard Weitz

Russia delivered two Gepard frigates, each armed with eight KH-35U anti-ship missiles  and displacing 1,500 tons, to the VPN in 2009 and 2010 . These are Vietnam's largest surface combatants. Credit photo :
01/13/2011 – The public display of China's new J-20 stealth fighter, the expected appearance soon of China's first aircraft carrier, and Secretary Gates' troubled visit to the PRC reaffirm the importance for the United States of having good security relations with China's neighbors. Defense ties with the Republic of Korea remain strong, while those with Japan have recovered from last year's downturn, thanks partly to China's confrontational policies regarding the territories in dispute between Beijing and Tokyo. But U..S. -Vietnamese security ties lag somewhat due to the legacy of confrontation and other factors. Relations between the United States and Vietnam have become stronger in recent years despite continuing disagreements over Vietnam's domestic human rights policies and other issues. Cooperation now extends beyond the realm of economics and the recovery of soldiers' remains to include joint diplomatic initiatives to counter Beijing's expansive maritime claims.
In 2009, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced its willingness to permit the export of "non-lethal" military equipment to Vietnam. In early August 2010, the Vietnam's Foreign Ministry confirmed the commencement of U.S.-Vietnamese negotiations on a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. That same month, the U.S. and Vietnamese held their first formal defense talks and their navies conducted their first joint exercises since the Vietnam War ended. The destroyer USS John McCain conducted exercises with ships of the Vietnamese People's Navy (VPN). The nuclear-powered USS George Washington aircraft carrier concurrently hosted a combined civilian-military delegation from Vietnam while sailing in the disputed South China Sea.
Vietnam has the misfortune of sharing a land border with China, which has led to centuries of invasions and armed conflicts between the two countries, most recently in the late 1970s. Still, Sino-Vietnamese tensions recently have involved primarily the South China Sea. This 3.5 million-square kilometer (km) body of water contains islands, minerals (oil and natural gas reserves lie below the sea), and maritime passages contested by the various littoral states. Vietnam and China claim all the small islands in the South China Sea, while Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Taiwan claim some of them. The Spratly and Paracel island chains are the most prominent of the islands, thought to be surrounded by undersea oil and gas reserved.
The Vietnamese Navy fought battles with the Chinese during the mid-1970s and late 1980s over these islands. The PRC seized the Paracels in 1974, when Vietnam was engulfed in civil war, and has since established military garrisons on them. Chinese authorities have also banned the Vietnamese from fishing in the South China Sea and seized fishing boats there, releasing their crew and ship only after they pay hefty fines. They also have been warning Western energy firms not to negotiate offshore drilling agreements with the Vietnamese government.
Most of Vietnam's oil reserves are located offshore of the Mekong Delta. Furthermore, Vietnam has an interest in pursuing claims to the potentially energy rich Spratlys because declining domestic oil production and growing energy consumption may cause Vietnam to become an oil importing country. The Paracels and Spratlys also intersect maritime commerce lanes originating from Vietnamese ports and encompass areas of extensive Vietnamese fishing and aquaculture. Nationalist sentiments also play a role. Demonstrations erupted across Vietnam when China declared the Paracel Islands to be a part of the Hainan Province municipality in 2008. Another potential source of conflict with China is the Mekong River. Only a fraction of its course runs through Vietnam, but its waters irrigate the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam. The Mekong Delta produces half of Vietnam's rice crop, and makes Vietnam the world's second largest national exporter of rice , which is a key source of foreign exchange for Hanoi. The Mekong Delta is threatened by both rising sea levels and the diversion and damming of Mekong River waters in the upriver areas of China, which leave the Mekong Delta provinces vulnerable to increases in soil salinity and land erosion.
Credit image :
Vietnam continues to cultivating a strong and militant form of national independence designed to make Vietnam a "poison shrimp" that China cannot digest. Following the end of the Cold War and the lavish defense and economic subsidies provided by other Soviet bloc members, Vietnam readjusted its military posture by withdrawing from Cambodia and settling land border disputes with China.
Still, with almost 500,000 soldiers under arms, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam possesses one of the world's ten largest militaries. In addition, the government persists in purchasing foreign weapons systems to complement the troops' extensive training in guerrilla warfare and more traditional combat techniques.
In 2009, Vietnam's gross domestic product (GDP) was $92.4 billion and its 2009 defense budget amounted to $4 billion, or about two percent of the total GDP. The most optimistic projection for the budget of the Vietnamese People's Army (VPA) in 2018, assuming that 5% of national GDP goes for defense, would be in the neighborhood of $10 billion, which is roughly equivalent to the 2009 defense outlays for Taiwan.
But spending five percent of GDP is more typical in more prosperous and developed states. Most ASEAN members spent three percent of their respective GDPs on defense With a defense spending share of three percent of GDP, Vietnam is calculated to spend around $5.5 billion by 2018.. Even so, foreign arms purchases could increase if the VPA reduced its personnel levels further.
Russia has succeeded the Soviet Union as the main provider of sophisticated weapons to Vietnam, though the relationship between Moscow and Hanoi is based now on business and strategic considerations rather than ideological commonality. Canadian and European companies have also sold some weapons to China.
Although the United States has not provided Vietnam with major weapons systems, the United States has relaxed Cold War-era transfer restrictions. In addition, American diplomats have evinced interest in working with their Vietnamese counterparts to counter Chinese maritime claims in the South China Sea.
At present, the Obama Administration has indicated a willingness to sell non-lethal military goods to Vietnam. Of course, the exact definition of "non-lethal" is open to interpretation.
The Vietnamese People's Navy (VPN) dedicates most of its resources to monitoring the activities of foreign navies and fishing fleets as well as for countering maritime smuggling and piracy. Vietnam's naval strategy can be best summarized as sea denial, preventing enemy forces from operating in Vietnamese waters, rather than seeking to proactively project power. Russia is the main supplier of warships to Vietnam.
Russia delivered two Gepard frigates, each armed with eight KH-35U anti-ship missiles and displacing 1,500 tons, to the VPN in 2009 and 2010 . These are Vietnam's largest surface combatants.
Russia and Vietnam are currently negotiating the delivery of two more Gepard frigates, to be possibly built under license in Vietnam's shipyards. The primary mission of the VPN's Gepard frigates would be to interdict enemy marine commerce and engage fast attack craft such as those possessed by rival claimants to South China Islands. Previously, the VPN received supersonic, Russian P-270 Moskit and P-800 Oniks anti-ship missiles from Russia.
In 2009, Vietnam signed a $1.8 billion contract to acquire six Kilo-class conventional attack submarines. The deal also includes Russian technical support and Russia's construction of bases to house the submarines. The Kilos, while suffering from speed and endurance limitations due to their limited battery capacity, are quiet and well-armed with torpedoes and anti-ship missiles.
They can exploit the PLAN's longstanding weakness in the area of antisubmarine warfare to observe PLAN military exercises as well as those of other countries. They could also help Vietnam break out of any foreign naval blockade. Vietnam's initial submarines came from North Korea, which sold Hanoi two Yugo class midget submarines in 1997 for espionage and infiltration purposes .
In coming years, the VPN is likely to focus on acquiring new small surface warships in the corvette or frigate size range (displacement between 1,000 to 4,000 tons) to both support littoral operations and tp gain experience in operating capital ships. Vietnam also is likely to obtain additionally naval transports to re-supply islands garrisons
Canada has emerged as a major source of military aircraft to Vietnam. Last year, Vietnam acquired six DHC-6 400 Twin Otter amphibious planes from Canada for $500 million. The DHC-6 400 is primarily a noncombatant aircraft designed for search and rescue, maritime patrol, and naval re-supply missions. The Vietnam Maritime Police (functionally equivalent to the U.S. Coast Guard) purchased three C212 surveillance aircraft and MSS 6000 radar in 2008 from European manufacturers. During the 1990s, Vietnam purchased a dozen Su-27 Flankers heavy fighters. Vietnam received 8 Su-30MMK strike fighters in 2009, and ordered a dozen more the following year for $1 billion
The most powerful airplane in the arsenal of the Vietnam People's Air Force (VPAF) is the Sukhoi Flanker, Vietnam's sole fourth-generation aircraft. They are highly maneuverable and can fly far. They are armed with R-77 long-range air-to-air missiles and R-27 short ranged missiles and, on paper, match anything China can field. In 2005, Vietnam also purchased 40 second-hand Su-22M fighter bombers.
The Su-22 is likely to be used to support the Su-30MKK in the maritime strike role and also as a close air support platform. The Czech Republic and Ukraine have also reported to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms that they respectively sold five and three Su-22M3s to Vietnam.
Looking ahead, the Vietnam People's Air Force will most likely need a modern single engine fighter to replace its 200 obsolete MiG-21s. The MiG-21 replacement would most likely require multi-role capability for long-range air-to-air missiles and precision guided ground attack munitions. Possible low cost candidates would be the Indian LCA, MiG 29, Swedish Saab Gripen, Mirage 2000 and Mid-Life Upgrade (MLU) F-16s. Ironically, Deputy Defense Minister Nyguen Huy Hieu's Janurary 2008 meeting with the Chinese Defense Ministry's Committee of Science, Technology and Industry raises the possibility of VPAF procurement of the low cost PRC JF-17 fighter, which is co-produced with Pakistan. The VPAF may also consider obtaining aerial refueling aircraft for its Flanker aircraft to increase their range and flight duration.
Russia has design and constructed Vietnam's modern air defense system. Two batteries comprising a total of twelve launchers of the formidable S-300PMU1 long-range surface to air missiles were purchased in 2003 from Russia. They have a range of 125 kilometers. One battery of six launchers is deployed at the capital city of Hanoi and the economic hub of Ho Chi Minh city. Vietnam also has a large number of anti-aircraft guns dispersed throughout the country.
The Vietnam People's Army has no modern self-propelled artillery or main battle tanks, leaving it at a disadvantage in a ground war with the PLA. Israelis have been upgrading Vietnam's T-55s with improved passive and reactive armor, a larger 125mm cannon and Polish fire control systems, but this is a stopgap measure since Vietnam will need new tanks soon because of protection, ammunition and engine limitations imposed by the T55's small size.
Since the terrain of most of Vietnam's border consist of either swamps or mountains, the VPA is unlikely to seek to acquire main battle tanks in the 60+ ton weight category, which excludes most Western tanks such as the Leopard II and M1 Abrams. The VPA will most likely acquire a tank like the T-90, which is in the 45-to-50 ton weight range. The T-90 is also logistically less demanding than most NATO tanks, but still carries considerable firepower.
Vietnam has indigenously upgraded dozens of M113 armored personnel carriers captured from U.S. and South Vietnamese forces, but modernizing these platforms has proven challenging due to the U.S. arms sanctions on Vietnam. The VPA would like to upgrade these and its other armored personnel carriers with better cannons, secondary remote weapons stations, visual imaging equipment, and gas turbine or diesel engines. The VPA's BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, first deployed in 1963, will probably be replaced by a new area suppression weapon.
Possible American Sales
In the past, domestic American political concerns have impeded U.S. arms sales to Vietnam. These have included painful memories of the Vietnam War, the Vietnamese government's mistreatment of Hmong and Degar minorities and suppression of political dissent, and the Vietnamese-American community's strong hostility towards the ruling Vietnamese Communist Party.
Foreign policy considerations have added additional obstacles. These have included concerns about harming U.S. relations with more traditional U.S. Southeast Asian allies, especially Singapore and Thailand. Both countries have been designated non-NATO major allies and Thailand fought extensive border skirmishes on the Cambodian border with Vietnam in the 1980s. Chinese officials would also presumably object to the U.S. transfer of many lethal weapons systems to Vietnam, and might retaliate by sending more weapons to regimes hostile to the United States.
Vietnam possesses sizeable quantities of U.S.-origin weapons captured during the civil war. These include F-5 Tiger fighters, OV-10 Bronco attack planes, C-130 Hercules Transports, UH-1 Huey helicopters, M113 APCs and M-48 tanks. Most of these platforms have been retired due to age and lack of maintenance and spare parts, but U.S.-made transport planes, helicopters and armored personnel carriers still serve in the VPA and could be upgraded by Americans to enhance their safety, range, payload, avionics, and engines for fuel efficiency.
The VPN has established re-supplying its island garrisons as a high priority, which suggests that Vietnam might be interested in decommissioned American amphibious warships stripped of offensive armament. The United States has sold Newport class Tank Landing Ships to Australia, Chile, Mexico, Morocco, Spain and Taiwan. The ships have ramps for offloading cargo in shallow waters, such as those in the Spratly Islands littoral. Ex-USN Anchorage Landing Ship Dock and Austin class Landing Platform Docks have been sold respectively to Taiwan and India. Compared to the Tank Landing Ships, these have increased capacities for supporting helicopter operations and would enhance Vietnam's marine search and rescue capabilities.
Vietnam might also want to acquire U.S. transport helicopters. American S-70 Seahawks and UH-60 Blackhawks are attractive in that, in addition to carrying loads in excess of four tons, they can be optimized for marine environments, high altitudes, and night-time operations. Of additional interest are CH-47 Chinook heavy helicopters, which could be used both for airmobile operations and to re-supply distant mountain outposts near the Chinese border. The C-130J Super Hercules and C-27A Spartan transport planes would be ideal for Vietnam's air transport needs. The two planes can carry 20 and 11 ton payloads, respectively, and provide short take off capabilities from rugged airstrips, thus having useful humanitarian applications for delivering relief in the aftermath of typhoons and other natural disasters.
Previous Vietnamese attempts to produce domestically made unmanned aerial vehicles with Israeli help have been unsuccessful. The MQ-1 Predator and tactical level RQ-7 Shadow would provide long endurance, low observable, and cost effective surveillance capabilities of Vietnam's extensive land and marine boundaries.
UAVs would also help coordinate land and naval maneuvers. Vietnam could also profitably acquire AEW&C aircraft such as the E-2T Hawkeye, which would improve battlefield data processing, radar coverage, and communications. Such a move to acquire AEW&C capabilities would help Vietnam match the Chinese KJ-2000 and KJ-200 aircraft, Singapore's Phalcon Gulfstream, and Thailand's Erieye Saab 340.
Modernization of the VPA also requires the renovation of the VPA's communications and control systems. If American-Vietnamese ties were to improve significantly, Vietnam could have opportunities to purchase Link 11 and 16 equivalent radios and communication datalinks like MIDS/LVT-1 for increasing information flow and security at both the strategic and tactical level . The increasing situational awareness and real-time decision-making capabilities from digitalized command systems would allow Vietnam to integrate air, land, and sea operations better..
Finally, the Vietnam War spewed tens of thousands of tons in unexploded landmines, artillery shells, bombs, booby traps and other explosives across Vietnam, including in heavily populated urban areas and farmland. U.S.-made de-mining vehicles such as the Cougar Mine Resistant Ambust Protected (MRAP) vehicle and M60 Panther drone would greatly improve the efficiency, speed, and safety of Vietnamese de-mining efforts, much of which is currently performed manually.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

wikileak vietnam

CO N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 HANOI 000809
E.O. 12958: DECL: 2019/09/10
CLASSIFIED BY: Michael Michalak, Ambassador; REASON: 1.4(B), (D)
1. (C) SUMMARY: Preparations are already underway for major leadership changes in Vietnam as the Communist Party gears up for its Eleventh Party Congress in January 2011. As many as six of the Politburo's fifteen members are expected to retire, including the General Secretary, State President, and National Assembly Chair. Conventional wisdom identifies CPV Standing Secretary Truong Tan Sang and Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as the frontrunners to replace Nong Duc Manh as General Secretary. If Dung does not become General Secretary, odds are he will remain as Prime Minister. Politburo members since 1996, Dung and Sang have amassed unparalleled influence in Vietnam's Party-state apparatus; they are arguably the two most powerful political figures in the country today. The problem is that, though rivals, Dung and Sang are also too alike for comfort -- both are Southerners, both former HCMC Party Secretaries. Vietnam's enduring regionalism argues that one, likely Sang, will be frustrated in 2011. If Dung keeps his seat as PM, the two strongest contenders for General Secretary are current National Assembly Chair Nguyen Phu Trong and -- more radically -- the Politburo's newest member, the conservative head of the CPV Ideology and Education Commission, To Huy Rua.
2. (C) COMMENT: Neither PM Dung nor Standing Secretary Sang is a champion of political reform in the manner of the late PM Vo Van Kiet. But they are known commodities: pragmatic, market-oriented, and in favor of steady, incremental advances in Vietnam's relationship with the United States. Trong has adopted a similar approach as NAChair. Rua may be a different story altogether. His elevation to the Politburo both reflects and reinforces a hard-line trend that has been increasingly evident since the crackdown on journalists reporting on the PMU-18 corruption scandal almost exactly one year ago. What role he plays in Vietnam's leadership transition will say much about whether political liberalization -- on hold for now -- will resume after 2011 or will remain stifled. END SUMMARY AND COMMENT.
Preparations Underway for the 2011 Party Congress
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3. (C) Unlike the Ninth Party Plenum, which installed new members of the CPV Politburo, Secretariat, and Central Committee (ref. A), the Tenth Plenum, held this July, produced virtually no new personnel or policy decisions. Instead, according to contacts with access to the Central Committee, the Plenum focused mainly on preparations for the Eleventh Party Congress in 2011. Following the Plenum, the CPV announced that the once-every-five-year Congress would be held January 2011, a somewhat earlier date than usual to allow for National Assembly elections later in the year. More importantly, our contacts said that the Congress finished assignments to various subcommittees, including bodies responsible for drafting the Congress's main written product, the "Political Report." Initial drafting on some of the sections, including the portion on Vietnam's foreign relations, began several months ago, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX.
4. (C) Of the subcommittees, the one subject to most fervid speculation is the Subcommittee for Personnel Appointments. Chaired officially by General Secretary Nong Duc Manh, but under the day-to-day supervision of the Central Committee's Organizational Affairs Department Chair, Ho Duc Viet, this subcommittee is charged with preparing the list of candidates for the Eleventh Central Committee and, ultimately, the next Politburo. Viet began the formal process at a "national conference" in Hanoi, August 25-26, in which he instructed grass-roots cadres to begin organizing local and Provincial- level Party Congresses. The actual work of the Appointments Subcommittee is kept extremely
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close hold, particularly as it affects upper-level personnel, and will be subject to change until the Tenth Central Committee's final plenary session, immediately before the January 2011 Congress itself. As a sign that ideological conservatives continue to consolidate their position, the Subcommittee will take as its guidance directives put forward in the Ninth Plenum, including admonitions about the pernicious effects of Western-oriented "self-evolution" (ref. B), sources familiar with the Plenum's internal deliberations say. Additionally, the Tenth Plenum instructed Provincial Party Secretaries to compile reports explaining how changes over the past ten years had either contributed to "perfecting socialism" or "regressing into capitalism," according to the new Can Tho Party Secretary.
Retirements Will Leave Key Openings
5. (SBU) The Personnel Subcommittee will have several important vacancies to consider. The CPV's Ninth Congress (2001) established an age limit of 60 for first-time Politburo members and 65 for those returning for a repeat term. The latter limit was increased to 67 just prior to the Tenth Congress as an exception to allow Manh, who at the time was 66, to return as General Secretary. Nearly all of our contacts predicted the present leadership would adhere to these age limits in 2011. If the limits are respected, five key Politburo members face mandatory retirement: General Secretary Manh (age 71 in 2011), State President Nguyen Minh Triet (69), National Assembly Chair Nguyen Phu Trong (67), DPM and Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem (67), and DPM Truong Vinh Trong (69). In addition, a sixth member of the Politburo, CPV Inspection Commission Chair Nguyen Van Chi, will be 66 and is reported to be in extremely poor health. A minority view among our contacts held that the 67-year age exception would be extended to NA Chair Trong if he were selected as General Secretary.
Consensus Front Runners: Truong Tan Sang and Nguyen Tan Dung
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6. (C) Most observers identify PM Nguyen Tan Dung and the head of the powerful CPV Secretariat, Standing Secretary Truong Tan Sang, as the leading contenders for Secretary General in 2011. In terms of experience, authority, and potential career longevity, Dung and Sang stand head and shoulders above their counterparts on the Politburo. Both have achieved dominant positions in what many now consider almost as competing wings within the Party- state apparatus: Dung through the Office of Government, government ministries, and his control over Vietnam's largest state-owned enterprises; Sang through the Central Committee Commissions. Dung and Sang are also in the best position to provide the continuity of leadership that the Party has consistently said it needs. The two entered the Politburo in 1996, which gives them the longest tenure of any member likely to serve through 2011. At the same time, at 60, they are relatively young and would be eligible to serve two terms as General Secretary, were the 67-year age-limit exemption invoked.
7. (C) Of the two, Sang is more frequently mentioned as a replacement for GS Manh. As Standing Secretary, Sang is responsible for the day-to-day running of Party affairs and, our contacts say, has consolidated his hold over the CPV's Central Committee commissions, which retain an important role in setting broad policy goals and in personnel decisions. Though his tenure as HCMC Party Chief was somewhat tainted by the "Nam Cam" organized crime scandal, Sang is now widely acknowledged as the Party's primary power broker on a wide range of issues, including on economic matters. Meeting with a delegation of industry representatives from the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council in May, for example, Sang was able to comment authoritatively, in detail and without notes, on topics ranging from civilian nuclear cooperation to energy pricing to regulations on tenders and procurement. Sang has also intervened to stop, at least temporarily, several business
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deals that were rumored to be corrupt and that had aroused public criticism.
8. (C) Sang has in some respects already eclipsed the General Secretary, according to XXXXXXXXXXXX. Others agree that Manh has ceded authority to Sang, but offer a slightly different interpretation. XXXXXXXXXXXX emphasized that Manh himself remains in overall command, but has removed himself from most policy decisions, choosing instead to focus on internal Party building. Ambassador Mitsuo Sakaba, who accompanied Manh on his April visit to Japan, told us that the General Secretary appeared disengaged in his meeting with Japanese PM Taro Aso, reading verbatim and in a monotone a 30-minute prepared statement passed to him by a staff-member; the General Secretary only really showed interest when he was taken to an agricultural site outside Tokyo. Whatever the cause of Manh's detachment, our contacts agree that Sang has already assumed many of Manh's normal responsibilities as General Secretary.
9. (C) While PM Dung has frequently been mentioned as a contender for General Secretary, a series of setbacks may have frustrated his ambitions to ascend to the top spot. Dung appears to have been stung by criticisms over his early advocacy for Chinese investment in bauxite projects in the Central Highlands (ref. C), a controversy that has been led publicly by General Vo Nguyen Giap, but which insiders say has been exploited by Sang and others as a proxy to undermine Dung (ref. D). In the most recent Plenum, the Prime Minister reportedly also came under criticism for his government's poor performance on corruption, education, and health care. Ultimately, Dung's biggest weakness is the simple fact that his power base derives from efforts to strengthen the government/ state, according to contacts such as XXXXXXXXXXXX. Dung's efforts to consolidate power within the Office of Government have alienated many in the Secretariat and the commissions of the Central Committee, the CPV's traditional centers of power, according to Eastern European diplomatic contacts with regular exposure to the upper/middle ranks of the CPV hierarchy.
10. (C) Nevertheless, most contacts suggest that Dung remains well positioned to remain Prime Minister; indeed, this may have been his goal all along. Though stung by criticism, the Prime Minister has developed an unprecedentedly tight hold over the state bureaucracy. Just as critically, Dung -- a former wartime military medic and police official -- retains strong backing within the Ministries of Public Security and Defense, support that has likely only been reinforced during the most recent crackdown on political dissent (ref E). Perhaps as an effort to showcase this, Dung has over the past months made several well-publicized visits to military commands and has addressed MPS functions. Dung also maintains extremely close contacts with MPS Minister Le Hong Anh, though Anh may not continue in his present position past 2011 (septel).
Regionalism: Why the Conventional Wisdom Might be Wrong
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11. (C) If conventional wisdom prevails, Southerners would for the first time occupy the two most important positions in Vietnam's Party-state structure, and would be in a position to keep their jobs for an additional ten years -- an untenable situation from the standpoint of the CPV's traditional power brokers in the North. Since Party strongman Le Duan's death in 1986, the General Secretary has always come from the North, the Prime Minister from the South; there has been an additional effort, less consistently applied, to have the third position in Vietnam's traditional power troika, State President, come from the Center. XXXXXXXXXXXX argue that regionalism is less and less correlated with ideological differences and of late has
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faded in importance. Additionally, XXXXXXXXXXXX and others maintain, there are important factional divisions among Southerners themselves: Sang, Dung, and State President Triet may all be former HCMC Party Chiefs, but they are not necessarily allies. There is much truth to this; however, our assessment is that having both the PM and President come from the South was an extremely hard pill for many Northerners to swallow in 2006, made palatable only because the top spot was held by a Northerner. Losing the positions of both General Secretary and Prime Minister would be too much for some to contemplate. (Comment: It is also important to keep in mind that factionalism, of which regionalism remains the most potent fault line, increasingly is no longer about ideology -- it is about power, patronage, and wealth. End comment.)
The Dark-Horse Contenders -------------------------
12. (C) Neither Sang nor Dung is likely to step aside without a struggle. If one is forced to sacrifice his ambitions, it is likely to be Sang. If Sang does not become General Secretary, a frequently mentioned alternative could be National Assembly Chair Nguyen Phu Trong, who has ably managed Vietnam's increasingly assertive national legislature and is a known commodity, having also served credibly as Hanoi Party Secretary. XXXXXXXXXXXX confided that Trong is lobbying to have the 67 limit apply not just to the position of General Secretary, but to each of the "four pillars": GS, PM, State Secretary, and NA Chair.
13. (C) A more radical choice could be the newest Politburo member, the hard-line chair of the CPV Ideology and Educational Commission (IEC) To Huy Rua. It would be unusual for a recently appointed Politburo member to ascend to the top of the CPV apparatus so soon; however, Rua has developed a formidable curriculum vitae. Rua has been a member of the Secretariat since 2006, which puts him at the heart of CPV policy making; as the long-serving IEC Chair and as a former head of the Ho Chi Minh Political Academy, he has impeccable ideological credentials; and, perhaps most importantly, as the former Party Chair for Haiphong, Rua has "executive experience" running a major provincial-level city. We have no information to corroborate an assertion by Australian academic Carlye Thayer that Rua is an ally of Sang. Rather, Rua is considered to be a protege of fellow Thanh Hoa stalwart, the hard-line former General Secretary Le Kha Phieu. Whatever the case, Rua's public profile has risen appreciably in the weeks after the most recent Plenum. On August 3, for example, Rua's views on "self-evolution" made the front-page piece in the leading CPV daily, Nhan Dan. On August 30, state media lavished extensive coverage on his visit to HCMC, where he exhorted the country's youth to follow the example of Ho Chi Minh. Rua was also shown chairing regional organizing meetings laying the groundwork for provincial Party Congresses.
14. (C) If Dung, on the other hand, is unable to retain his seat -- and Sang, in turn, ascends to the position of General Secretary -- this would likely produce a reversal of the normal regional balance, with a Northerner becoming Prime Minister. But here the field is, if anything, even narrower. For the past 20 years, Vietnam's Prime Ministers have come from the ranks of serving Deputy Prime Minister: of Vietnam's five current DPMs, only three are on the Politburo, and of them, two are scheduled to retire in 2011, leaving only Standing DPM Nguyen Sing Hung. Hung is a Northerner and an economic technocrat, and has the additional advantage of being one of PM Dung's bitterest rivals, according to several contacts. However, Hung is himself an unpopular figure. When the newly convened National Assembly met in 2007 to formally ratify the Party's selections for PM, DPMs, and government ministers -- normally a perfunctory ritual -- only 58% voted to approve DPM Hung, a shockingly low figure considering that 92% of the NA's deputies are Party members.