When Defense Secretary Robert Gates spoke
in the Vietnamese capital the other day, the first question, ironically enough,
was whether the communist government of Vietnam can be confident that the
United States government won't just run away with the going gets tough:
Mr. Secretary of Defense, I have -- actually, we are from the Vietnam National
University and military universities and colleges in Hanoi. And we'd like to
take this opportunity to ask you a few questions.
first question: ASEAN [Association of Southeast Asian Nations] highly value
cooperation with the United States for security, stability and peace in
Southeast Asia. But how can we be sure that the United States won't just walk
away when their national interests are served in a certain way? The second
SEC. GATES: Let me -- as I get older, I can only remember one question at a time. (Laughter.)
of all, the United States has been active in Asia for more than 150 years. We
have never turned our backs on Asia in that long time and with all that
history. We are a Pacific nation. We have a presence in Asia. We border the
Pacific Ocean. We have long-term interests here and we have friendships that go
back many, many decades.
I think all Asia can be confident that the
United States intends to remain engaged in Asia…
funny to the Vietnamese, of course. The more assertive China becomes, the more
they will be looking to the United States (and to India) to provide some
balance in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Army/flickr