America’s Moral Obligation in the Post–Cold War Era
This chapter focuses on changes in refugee identity and political power in the post-Cold War era. Often depicted as a period in which all sides but the refugees opted for reconciliation, the 1990s actually saw all sides wishing to save face in exchange for normalized relations. Hanoi had to justify reversing course on the communist revolution, while the United States demanded concessions to avoid the appearance of a second surrender, and the refugees themselves, with little leverage themselves, hoped for democratic reforms. Once normalization became a reality, Vietnamese Americans reacted in multiple ways to fears that globalization would transform Little Saigon into Little Ho Chi Minh City. Ironically, they used their status as US citizens and their high concentration in Orange County to advance exile politics at the local level just as they were losing influence at the national level.
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