Below is an email I recently recieved from a friend of mine:
My trip to SE Asia was great. I stayed in Ho Chi Minh City the entire 10 days. The talk on the street is that VN will join the WTO this year. Also, few locals believe the New Government will institute democratic reforms. Instead, it is business as usual. There are 3 million party members controlling 85 million people. The party members enjoy great privilege and wealth at the expense of the people. Hanoi is giving lip service to humanitarian reforms and religious freedoms to gain favor with the US for our support of their WTO membership. Strategically, the US will lend support to VN as a countervailing force to China in the Region. I suppose it makes since to do this, but I am discouraged by the US’ continued support of countries that deny human rights and freedom. The old adage, garbage in—garbage out, comes to mind. The US trade with China and other totalitarian countries says much about our morals. For example, while we preach freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom to assembly, and human rights, we simultaneously support regimes that deny the very foundations of our freedoms. In so doing, we empower these counties to suppress their people. What does this say about us?