President Bush visits Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, “looking to burnish his foreign-policy credentials.” He’s off to a miserable start.
The White House website featured a graphic with the flags of the three countries he’s visiting on his trip — Singapore, Vietnam, and Indonesia. One problem: instead of displaying the Vietnamese flag, the White House graphic featured the old flag of South Vietnam. That flag hasn’t been the official flag of Vietnam since South Vietnam surrendered to North Vietnam in 1975.
The display of the old flag is highly incendiary to the current Vietnamese government. NPR reported last year the display of the old flag anywhere in the United States — much less on the White House website — “could create tension amid warming relations between the United States and Vietnam,” thinkprogress.org reports.
Bush left Tuesday night for an eight-day tour of Asia, including stops in Singapore, Indonesia and Vietnam, where he attends a summit of Asian-Pacific nation leaders. At month’s end, Bush will travel to the Baltic Sea countries of Latvia and Estonia, once claimed by the Soviet Union, for a NATO summit in Riga, Latvia.
It is Bush’s first trip to Vietnam. During the Vietnam War, he served in the U.S. in the Texas Air National Guard. Now, with the Iraq war dragging on for 3½ years and the U.S. death toll still rising, many of Bush’s critics are comparing Iraq to the Vietnamese quagmire.
Bush's plan is a new pact normalizing trade with Vietnam hit a bump when the lame-duck GOP-controlled House failed to approve the measure on an initial vote Monday. Its Republican sponsors were hoping to use another strategy to get the bill passed later in the week, but the rejection was an embarrassing setback as the president set out on his first postelection overseas trip, MSNBC reports.
Prepared by Alexander Timoshik
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