USS Carl Vinson: The US woos an old enemy with a show of strength
There was a guy I met in the Navy, not really a friend, but a guy that was senior to me, an E-6 who was approaching retirement age who said that he planned to retire to Vietnam with his wife (who happened to be Chinese). I don't know if that's what he actually did, but I assume he did. His E-6 Navy pension would supposedly be more than enough to live on comfortably in Vietnam.
Anyway, now the Navy is finally going to be landing there from time to time I guess:
The USS Carl Vinson's arrival in Danang this week is a visible gesture of commitment by Washington to the country with which it fought a terrible war just two generations ago.
An absence of recrimination
The US-Vietnam rapprochement dates back to the restoration of diplomatic relations in 1995. Since then there has been a steady improvement in ties, through trade, cultural exchanges, diplomacy and military co-operation.
Disagreements over the harsh treatment of political and religious dissidents in Vietnam have not been allowed to interrupt this progression, and there is a remarkable absence of recriminations over the past.
The fact that the USS Carl Vinson is docking just a few kilometres from the beach where US combat troops first landed in Vietnam in 1965, and not far from some of the bloodiest battlefields of the war, presents a poignant historic backdrop to this visit, but in no way overshadows it. This is the culmination of a quiet, careful courtship.
The rise of China is what drives it, for the Americans and for the Vietnamese.
Despite the better-known history of the US-Vietnam conflict, Vietnamese resentment of its giant neighbour goes back much further, embedded in the folk memory of a millennium of Chinese domination in ancient times.
Vietnam shares a border more than 1,000km (620 miles) long with China, through which more than $90bn (£65bn) in trade passes, but which in 1979 was the scene of a short war in which thousands of troops died on both sides.