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tv   Normalization of Relations with Vietnam  CSPAN  September 6, 2015 9:36pm-9:50pm EDT

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supplier on the platform and sell your product to others who will be looking for that. >> i agree that there is a long way to go. you hear debates about the robots taking over the world and so on. a scientist's perspective i would say that is optimistic. i wish we were that smart to build a robot that smart. we are far away from that. but we are making a lot of headway. in recent years there has been a confluence of technologies to have robots that are smarter, or away from the smarts of human beings -- f away from these parts of human beingsar. communicators" on c-span two. atamerican history tv was the annual meeting. it we spoke with professors and graduate students about research. this interview is about 15
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minutes. steven scully: amanda demmer, who was a doctoral student at the university of new hampshire, a native of buffalo, new york. these andcusing on let me start with the benchmark of 1975, the fall of saigon. your recent picks up after that. amanda demmer: most histories -- your research fix up after that. amanda demmer: most research ends with the following saigon but my research begins with that moment and looks at the period often considered an epilogue, from the fall of saigon until bill clinton announced relationships normalizing. and the role of refugee issues in u.s. policy towards vietnam. steven scully: an interesting part is the normalized relations we now have. amanda demmer: yes.
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this is something that i think most americans are not familiar with. i know that relations with cuba were not normalized until very recently but after the war, policymakers extended the embargo that had formally been on the north to the entire country and also refused to extend formal diplomatic recognition to the new, united vietnam, the socialist republic of vietnam. sense,years, in a formal there are no diplomatic ties. steven scully: there are different ways, one of the biggest after the follows aegon -- fall of saigon but also in the years that followed, coming to america. as the communist forces are making advances in vietnam, u.s. officials see the fall of saigon coming. and so the infrastructure is laid to try to secure the
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evacuation of close american allies that would really face significant reprisals if they have stayed. 125,000 evacuated alongside u.s. personnel in 1975. the really significant disparity between the few that leave and the many that were involved in anti-communist efforts, civil and military officials of south vietnam, they face dire straits, the losing side in what was in vietnam a civil war. this precipitates what scholars call the "refugee question." there these people thatoat shows a powerless journey, there are the offspring of american soldiers in vietnam a -- and
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vietnamese women that stood out in a homogenous society. and then there are the political prisoners. right now my research focuses on the political prisoners, those that the vietnamese government put into what they call the reeducation camps. steven scully: a big of a story world but children? how bigexplain that -- of a story worth the children? can you explain that question? shock,demmer: it is a soldiers having relationships with vietnamese women, and often times their offspring are widely discriminated against so they are often abandoned, or they and their mothers face a widespread discrimination in terms of job, housing, things of that nature. there is this significant moral 75,tion, especially after
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does the united states have an obligation to those who are so obviously a legacy of american involvement in vietnam? and that in terms of the legal side, citizenship policy. are the american citizens? how do they come to the united cannot prove who their father was? it creates a lot of thorny legal, political, and moral questions that the country has to grapple with. steven scully: we have been talking with a lot of historians, but in your area of expertise, unique because it is relatively recent and you have firsthand accounts. were are you able to talk to and what are you asking? amanda demmer: i have just begun the interview process and i view the project as what historians called top-down and bottom-up.
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the top-down approach i am talking to american officials. i have a chance to interview pete peterson, a prisoner of war during the conflict, he was a congressman thereafter. the first u.s. ambassador to vietnam. in other state department and otherand so on -- state department officials and so on. i have just begun the process of speaking to vietnamese americans, hopefully something i will be returning attention to in the near future. there is a very surprising quality of archival records left from vietnamese-american groups. you talked about normalized relations with cuba. we have normalized relations with vietnam. nce we been 20 years si resumed relations, led by bill clinton. what lessons can we learn? amanda demmer: this is a very important question, hopefully
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something i will be looking at in the future, these comparisons between what we look at as normalization. it is important to remember that these case studies has been different. one obvious example is that when theident clinton announced normalization with vietnam, congress had already lifted the embargo. whereas with cuba, president obama announced relations normalized but the embargo remains. this is a, more than the public is aware, a malleable concept where we do not have a set definition as the announcement of normalization. steven scully: i want to go back to 1975. the war had just ended, one of the most divisive wars in u.s. history. thousands of young men have died. the draft was in place. as the war came to an end, these
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vietnamese americans came to the u.s.. many were fleeing because of the communist threat. biggest factor what these families, these vietnamese were thinking, and why they wanted -- take us back to what these families, these vietnamese were thinking, and why they wanted to come here. amanda demmer: this is a part of my research, looking at compelling human stories. of 1975, you have a moment where a country, south vietnam, the republic of vietnam, no longer exists on the map. this group of people who are to some extent stateless in a way. at, thep that i look families of vietnamese political prisoners association, i will call them the association, the association is founded in 1977 by vietnamese americans, mostly women who have husbands, brothers, sons, incarcerated in political prisons in vietnam.
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and so they are able to enjoy the benefits of living in american society while their loved ones are in what has been compared to concentration camps, hard labor camps in vietnam, because of their support for the cause of south vietnam. it is this really poignant story of family separation, something that has i think significant or allow with the -- significant parallels with the missing in action lobby that focuses on missing american serviceman and family separations of american serviceman, many who fought in the army of the republic of vietnam. they are having a similar story. this year marking the 40th anniversary. how are these vietnamese assimilated in the united states? amanda demmer: this is an
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interesting question. i must confess i am primarily a diplomatic scholars or do not so i study assimilation -- do not quite study assimilation in the same way. to go say that the group, to be specific example, the association, they have adopted the american political process. they became citizens, they lobbied politicians, the sort of have a legal, political solution to their problems in the same way that americans born and raised here will choose their elected representatives, lobby elected representatives for change, on a variety of issues. suddenly embracing the political process is something that happens almost immediately in this specific case. years scully: your two away from completing your doctoral dissertation. good luck to you. amanda demmer: thank you.
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steven scully: still a lot of research to go. what are you looking at and why is this of interest to you? amanda demmer: for many reasons. i think this is a moment, a narrative story that has been thoughtful, very well-known historians, but this piece about vietnamese americans , has thei think narrative incomplete thus far. i am very happy to be speaking to an issue that is sort of real including this group that deserves our historical focusing ont also complex, refugees, situations that have immediate bearing on things like syria in our own time. and so i plan to continue the interviews, to get back to your question, and to explore human rights organizations and the way
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that they fight to influence government policy. since vietnamese americans are a crucial part of what i consider a multifaceted dialogue. steven scully: those unanswered questions are what? moving ahead to the things that you are most interested in. amanda demmer: one key question that has significant implications for the past and present is what is normalization? what is the role of refugee politics? issues of migration, in that process. we often consider those things separate. diplomatic and economic relations. there are human rights issues. i am arguing with the project is that we have to be open to the idea that these things are inextricably linked to one another and that by ignoring human rights, ignoring the refugee politics, we are depriving ourselves of the key ways in which states normalize relations with one another. steven scully: good luck with
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your research. amanda demmer, we appreciate your time. amanda demmer: thank you for having me. you are watching american history tv, 48 hours of programming every week. follow us on twitter for information on the schedule of upcoming programs and to keep up with the latest history news. >> all weekend long, american history tv is featuring grand junction, colorado. the city used irradiation to develop one of the earliest industries, fruit farms. it is still a major part of the city. together with our charter we haveations partners, visited many sites exploring the history. learn more about grand junction all weekend on american history tv. >> when you look at the history of the american west, ontr

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