After the bloody US war in Vietnam, one of the remaining vestiges of the conflict, the US ban on weapons sales to the Communist nation, seems to be on the verge of being removed, with the Obama Administration believing such sales would be a “signal” to China.
After the war, the US restored diplomatic relations with Vietnam in 1995, and has been on increasingly friendly terms with them. That Vietnam has existing territorial disputes with China and the US has been making a habit of siding against China in such disputes seems to be driving the potential sales.
Vietnam hasn’t asked to buy anything in particular, but officials believe they would be keen to get some more warships, and also planes to target the Chinese Navy in the disputed areas of the South China Sea, over which China and Vietnam fought a brief war in 1979.
While Obama can lift the ban unilaterally, Congress would still have final say on individual weapons sales. Selling weapons to the Vietnamese military is likely to remain a touchy subject, because of the Vietnam War, though US desires to “confront China” may ultimately trump that.