In Washington, the talk is all about Iraq as Viet Nam, right down to the aging hippies and over the hill Hollywood stars reliving their glory days of rebellion.
The irony is that none of the aging protesters have bothered to check on what’s actually going on in Viet Nam these days. As OurManInHanoi Blog points out, yes, there was a war, but Viet Nam is looking to the future, and so should you.
But here in Asia, the news is that Viet Nam, after facing a major famine in the 1990′s, did a turn around from communism and copied China’s capitalistic economic policies. The result is one of the fastest expanding economies in the world, with double digit growth and increasing prosperity for it’s people. For example, in 1990, 51% of it’s people earned less than a dollar a day; the number now is 8%.
Yet, aside from Bush’s proposal last September about opening permanent trade status with that country, there is little reporting of this in the American press.
And one of the reasons for this economic miracle ironically is the return of the Viet Kieu, the Vietnamese who fled the communists thirty years ago.
For example, Intel has invested in Viet Nam, and most recently has announced plans to build a $300 million (US) assembly and test facility to produce chips and computer parts.
Along with this development, there has been an influx of business savvy, English speaking IT professionals from California back to Viet Nam to set up business, with the help of young graduates from local IT savvy high school and university graduates, has made some predict Viet Nam will be the new Taiwan for IT.
So Viet Nam is no longer the sleepy rice paddy dream of the 1960′s, but a country with a bustling economy, with trade, roads, cars and other signs of becoming a modern country, complete with traffic accidents, pollution, childhood obesity and a local Cafe that copies Starbucks.
The Asian style of development has led to increased prosperity for quite a few countries with few in the West noticing the change. If reported at all, the story is to bash Bush by implying that the United States “slipping” in comparison to country X or Country Y rather than reporting the reality: The US is expanding, but so are other countries, and since they started in more poverty, their improvement is therefore greater.
The irony of this capitalistic paradigm of development to reduce poverty is still lost on Western idealists who are trying to rescue Africa using charity and direct government aid.
The irony is that China’s investments and loans to Africa might, by stimulating local businesses, in the long run produce a similar business oriented improvement of the daily lives of ordinary people than all the charities so beloved of the West.
The irony of all of this is not lost to this leftist leaning ex missionary.
Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines with her husband, three cats, six dogs, and a large extended family. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket