The United States is reportedly edging closer to ending a decades-old arms embargo on Vietnam, propelled by China's aggressive behavior and particularly Beijing's heavy-handed search for energy riches in the South China Sea.
Rolling back the embargo, as proponents such as Sen. John McCain have been advocating, would represent the culmination of a remarkable shift in U.S. relations with Vietnam. It would also be a sign that, for all the distractions that have sucked President Barack Obama's foreign-policy attention back to the Middle East of late, the pivot to Asia is far from dead.
Reuters reported that the Obama administration is close to changing its policy regarding arms sales to Vietnam, which have been banned since shortly after the end of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. The apparent change of policy comes after a summer of high-profile visits to Vietnam by U.S. officials, including McCain and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It also comes after China dispatched a drilling rig to disputed waters off the Vietnamese coast, leading to months of naval jousting, riots, and rising tensions across the region.