During Bill Clinton’s presidency, US–Vietnam relations have been strengthening. They started rather hesitantly with Clinton appearing politically vulnerable amid accusations that he had dodged the draft to avoid serving in the war. However, diplomatic relations were established in 1995 and in July the two countries signed a bilateral trade accord.
Enemies to friends
The symbolism of former enemies beginning a new page was also evident in Washington’s appointment of its first ambassador to Vietnam since 1975. Douglas ‘Pete’ Petersen is himself a Vietnam veteran. As a fighter pilot he was shot down over Hanoi and imprisoned in the jail famously nicknamed by its inmates the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. What is more, Peterson is married to an Australian overseas Vietnamese.