Recently in Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital city, a long forgotten bunker was rediscovered underneath a hotel. This brings back the memories of a war that ended not all that many years ago, but the effects of which are rarely seen today. In fact, Vietnam has transformed itself from the war-torn nation it was when hostilities ceased in 1975 into one of the fastest growing economies in Asia. Just look at the things you buy. It is amazing how many things are made in Vietnam. Adidas and Nike both have major factories there, as do many other large retailers. Not all that long ago it was a war zone.
Will Iraq and Afghanistan turn out the same way? Will upper-class Iraqis be driving around in Bentleys bought with money made from selling Americans the latest sneakers? Chances are Iraq will be supplying oil rather than sneakers, but in my opinion there is a strong possibility that as Iraq stabilizes, their economy will strengthen and they will come to play a larger role in the world economy. Afghanistan is a different story. An Afghan’s first loyalty, generally speaking, is to their clan. Although abundant in natural resources, it is doubtful whether Afghanistan can ever stabilize enough under one blanket government to have any semblance of a strong economy.
Both nations could benefit from preferable trade treatment by the United States in the future. After WWII, the United States was able to reap the benefits of infrastructures that they helped to build in both Germany and Japan. As the United States helps to rebuild Iraq and Afghanistan, they will again be concerned with helping these restructured nations prosper.
If you asked most Americans in 1975 if they would be buying clothing made in Vietnam in 2011, most would have probably answered no. But today, we openly trade with Vietnam and they reap the benefits of American consumerism. It will be interesting to see what the future will hold for Iraq and Afghanistan.
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