...for as long as it takes
By a 260-163 vote, the House rejected a motion to overturn a presidential waiver issued last March opening the way for Vietnam to get U.S. government credits and investment guarantees.
Supporters of the administration policy argued that Vietnam's human rights record is improving, and that increased U.S. trade can only foster that trend.
"Their continued exposure to U.S. values on human rights and religious freedom will promote progress in Vietnam in these objectives that we all share," said Rep. Bob Matsui, D-Calif.
Opponents questioned Vietnam's commitment to reform and the wisdom of extending U.S. government credit to a communist government.
"What we are going to be doing is spending tax dollars with this waiver to guarantee American businessmen to go in and use cheap slave labor under a dictatorship to manufacture goods to export to the United States to put our own people out of work. That's immoral," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Calif.
The administration said the waiver was justified because Vietnam, while still repressive in its policies, since 1979 has allowed more than 480,000 of its citizens to leave Vietnam legally for the United States.
"Based on every shred of evidence we have, we've seen a dramatic improvement in the cooperation of the Vietnamese government with the United States," said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif.
The waiver for government credits is not the same as Clinton's decision, upheld by the House recently, to extend normal trade relations to China for another year. Vietnam is one of six countries in the world that do not have normal trade status with the United States that would allow them to receive low tariff rates. To obtain that status, Hanoi first would have to sign a bilateral commercial agreement with the United States.
The House voted 260 to 163 to reject a measure that would have overturned a decision by Clinton to waive the Jackson-Vanik law, a 1974 measure barring the U.S. government from giving trade and investment funding to communist nations that do not allow their citizens to emigrate or travel abroad freely.
The vote upholds Clinton's decision to allow Vietnam access to U.S. Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corp (OPIC) and Department of Agriculture credit programs. The decision, however, does not grant Normal Trade Relations (NTR), formerly called Most Favored Nation (MFN) trade with Vietnam.
Vietnam is one of a handful of nations that lack the normal trade status, which allows goods to enter the country at low tariff rates. But the two former enemies are negotiating a bilateral trade agreement that would clear the way for normal U.S. trade relations with Vietnam.
Supporters of Clinton's decision said Vietnam has shown more cooperation in trying to resolve issues involving prisoners of war and U .S. soldiers missing in action. They argued it was time to put the war behind and move on with an effort to improve relations.
"I have emotional baggage, we all have emotional baggage in this country," said Rep. Doug Bereuter, a Nebraska Republican whose infantry unit he said suffered casualties in Vietnam. "But I would suggest it is time to get on and not reverse course on Vietnam."
But opponents said Vietnam's cooperation and human rights record had not improved and argued that Clinton's decision to waive Jackson- Vanik should be overturned.
"The fact that he is asking us to waive the restrictions of Jackson -Vanik mean that the communist Vietnamese are not meeting the moral standards that we set," said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who sponsored the resolution to reject Clinton's decision.
"So all of this talk about all of the progress that we have heard about going on in communist Vietnam is so much baloney."
I know that when I first started with Operation Just Cause a little over a year ago, I was also new to the Internet. I did not know the first thing about making webpages and I knew even less about inserting HTML and graphics on my page for my first adopted POW/MIA. There will also be announcements and news from other teams within OJC including the Adoption Team with updates and the Domain Team will provide news on plans for OJC.
I am also planning on having a monthly feature that will be written by Vietnam Veterans. There are a large number of Vietnam Veterans within Operation Just Cause and their help and insight have been invaluable to me. I hope that anyone who feels they would be able to submit something will feel free to contact me to discuss it.
I would like to say "Thank you" to the people who helped me to put together this month's issue of "The Moonduster Chronicles".