Questions about economy, communism
Answering Vietnamese-Americans' questions about economy, communism
A recent Houston Chronicle article, "An American Tradition / Exiles raise funds for schools in Vietnam," profiled Houston-based Sunflower Mission and its efforts to help education in Vietnam by building schools. The article incidentally touched on one the most quintessentially American debates of the 20th century: What to do about communism?
It is appropriate that Vietnamese-Americans debate this issue. Vietnam was ravaged in the clash of military empires over communism. Sacrificing their money and children, Americans watched the tragedy unfold on TV. In the end, the war did not stop communism, and by 1975, the communists celebrated their "liberation" of South Vietnam and sung the glories of collectivism and the evils of capitalism in the face of the whole world. Yet, only 14 years later, the center of gravity of communism, the Soviet Union, collapsed into the proverbial ash heap of history.
What happened? How did the "Evil Empire" fall?
While Americans pondered this question, Vietnamese refugees arrived in the United States, learned English, started businesses, bought property, established careers. They amazed us not only by surviving but by putting the American dream into action. More recently, their desire to return freedom's favor prompted Houston's Vietnamese-Americans to send a huge monetary donation to 9/11 survivors. Where once Americans wept at the fate of Vietnamese during the war, now we wept at their unflinching and selfless generosity during our woe.
Now able to visit and help their mother country, our new Americans are asking the old question: What to do about communism? Recently, Vietnam signed a trade agreement with the United States, prompting the more practical question: Should we trade with Vietnam? Vietnamese-Americans fear that trade will put money and power into the hands of their former tormentors. What is the correct policy?