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New Vietnam policy requires caution

Instead of risking a confrontation with China himself, President Barack Obama has decided to let Vietnam do so over Beijing’s expansionism. He did this by lifting an arms embargo in place for decades against Vietnam.

Using other countries or even organizations as proxies in such situations is not unusual. U.S. leaders have done it for a long time.

But the practice carries risks. When those acting as our proxies get into trouble, they quite reasonably look to the United States to bail them out.

Obama and the next president should ensure Hanoi is under no illusion Americans would become involved in an armed confrontation between China and Vietnam unless U.S. interests were directly involved. Of such miscommunication are world wars made.