U.S.-Vietnam Relations: Background and Issues for Congress [Updated December 27, 2007] [open pdf - 292KB]
"After communist North Vietnam's victory over U.S.-backed South Vietnam in 1975, U.S.-Vietnam relations remained essentially frozen for over 15 years. Since then, bilateral ties have expanded remarkably, to the point where the relationship has been virtually normalized. Indeed, since 2002, overlapping strategic and economic interests have compelled the United States and Vietnam to improve relations across a wide spectrum of issues. Congress played a significant role in the normalization process and continues to influence the state of bilateral relations. Voices favoring improved relations have included those reflecting U.S. business interests in Vietnam's reforming economy and U.S. strategic interests in expanding cooperation with a populous country -- Vietnam has over 85 million people -- that has an ambivalent relationship with China. Others argue that improvements in bilateral relations should be conditioned upon Vietnam's authoritarian government improving its record on human rights. The population of over 1 million Vietnamese Americans, as well as legacies of the Vietnam War, also drive continued U.S. interest."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33316