I, unfortunately, let the visit of the Prime Minister of Vietnam, Phan Van Khai, with President Bush go by uncommented upon. Nevertheless, the visit was extremely important and is a good indicator of US policy in Asia. The relationship has implications with US-Sino relations as well, especially because of oil, which is only highlighted by China's desire to invest heavily into Mobil.
Vietnam is in a strategic geographic position with important oil shipping lanes nearby. Rather than attempting to, as they say, reinvent the wheel, I would like to refer you to Tom Collins' excellent work (he has a history inside the oil industry) and unique perspective on the visit over at QuillNews.
"But the energy realities of the region remain. Oil and energy security will be on the agenda when Khai visits with President Bush today. However, now instead of competing over oil discoveries and drilling rights nearby, China and its East Asian neighbors are forced to rely on oil and gas shipped from the Middle East. Pressure on security of the sea lanes remains paramount to every state in the region where no one trusts anybody else. China’s military build up, partly in its blue water navy to project military power at sea, continues and is causing nerves to twitch in the region. Now, instead of working to deal with the riches of oil at home, Vietnam and the US find themselves again talking about oil – this time keeping sea lanes for oil transportation open.
When Khai appears in the White House to discuss mutual interests, the US and Vietnam can discuss the US desire that Vietnam take a more active role in the region’s defenses, and that the Vietnamese cooperate with their regional neighbors – notably Japan and Australia – to assure that all shipping in the region remains secure from pirates, terrorists or bully states. (Fourth Rail, WRMead in LAT) Despite the wrongs, the lingering memories (LGF) and open wounds, the chapters of history that the US and Vietnam wrote together in war are largely completed. The caravan of history has moved on; and oil, as always, must flow. (QN)"
The US is forging new and innovative alliances in Asia while strengthening core relationships such as with Japan and Australia. This is all good news for the long-term security and economic interests of both of our nations.