Is it true that to protect national sovereignty and interests requires joining a military alliance?

    14:12 03/06/2022

    “No alliances” is a consistent position and policy of our Party and State. Hostile forces, reactionaries, and political opportunists, however, always exploit all tricks to steer public opinion against this policy, especially in current situation.

    They believe that “only if Viet Nam is in alliance with a major power can it safeguard its national sovereignty and interests.” According to them, Viet Nam’s pursuit of “Four No’s” defence policy is risky because its military might is too “weak” and “backward.” Consequently, Viet Nam must join a major power’s military alliance to gain support for protection of territorial sovereignty, national borders, waters, and islands. They conclude that the policy of “no military alliances” not only fails to defend the country against invasion but also fails to preserve the regime, thus leading the Party to lose everything, including its leadership. They even boldly claim that “the sooner Viet Nam enters into a military alliance with the United States, the sooner the risks of further losing islands and sovereign rights in the East Sea as well as a war on land and at sea will be avoided.”

    The above-mentioned arguments completely go against guidelines of the Communist Party of Viet Nam (CPV) as well as realities of Vietnamese revolution. We can have an in-depth look at this matter from the following dimensions:

    First, national sovereignty is sacred and supreme, which cannot be entrusted to foreign forces, no matter who they are. In today’s international relations, when all countries prioritise their national interests, especially the core ones such as independence, sovereignty, social regime, etc., on the basis of mutual benefits, it is not easy for them to help each other to safeguard national interests. What to create cohesive alliances is common interests and the portion of interests each party may get. “Holly” alliances are products of fantasists, which are unlikely to exist in today’s vivid, complex, and pragmatic political-military realities. What are a major power’s interests to enter into a military alliance with a small country, whose aims are to secure its own national sovereignty and interests? Traditionally, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. Everything has a price. The small country may avoid a loss of sovereignty and successfully protect its national interests from some threats. However, the price which is existential and true before it can avoid that threat is that it must concede part of its sovereignty or national interests to the allied power. These are mortgage assets in exchange for security commitments from its ally. This is a must in today’s international relations. In this case, the small country exchanges practical interests for security assurance, which can be only operationalised by necessary and sufficient conditions attached to its allied major power. As for all nations, territories serve as a material basis for their survival and are of sacred, immutable value. As far as Viet Nam is concerned, independence, sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity, socialist regime, etc., are core, supreme, and sacred interests, which were achieved through sacrifice of generations of Vietnamese people. Sovereign independence, unification, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland, therefore, cannot be entrusted to anyone but is determined by Vietnamese people themselves. This has long been realised consistently by the CPV according to the principle of “guaranteeing maximum national interests on the basis of fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations and international law, equality, cooperation, and mutual benefits.”

    Second, to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and interests requires making the most of independence and self-reliance without illusive dependence on an alliance. World history has proved that not all alliances with military powers can protect their members’ national sovereignty and interests, especially the small ones. Like any other countries, major powers attach importance to their national interests. Consequently, for the sake of their “grand” interests, they will treat their allies according to the philosophy of putting their interests ahead of others’. In such cases, many major powers’ allies have accepted the full consequences ranging from frigidity, disregard to abandonment or even betrayal. This has shown that no nations in the world are willing to sacrifice their national interests for others’.

    Despite great assistance from the socialist countries and international friends during its two fierce, protracted wars of resistance, Viet Nam still heightened the sense of independence and self-reliance without joining any military alliances with major powers. This is a big lesson learnt from the wars of resistance for national liberation and reunification. The lesson remains valid today. The formation of people’s alliance on March 13, 1951 by Viet Nam, Laos, and Cambodia in order to strengthen solidarity among three Indochinese countries in the wars of resistance against French colonialists, American imperialists, and their henchmen for national independence, national building, and people’s liberty, happiness, and development was a practical requirement and objective demand of the revolutions in three Indochinese countries. This alliance is self-defensive and justice in nature, serving as a means of safeguarding the Fatherland at that time. Nevertheless, each country heightened the sense of independence and self-reliance in terms of guideline and implementation. Once again this affirms that it is necessary to heighten the sense of independence and self-reliance without illusively longing for foreign assistance in order to protect national independence and sovereignty in any circumstances, including peacetime and wartime.

    Third, it is not because our national defence power is too “weak” and “backward” that we must join a military alliance with foreign countries. If it is because we are weak and backward that we need an alliance, so whether or not we need an alliance when we are strong and modern. In fact, many major powers are proactively in alliance with the small ones, and in some cases the small countries refuse to join an alliance with major powers. So, how can we think of any reasonable explanation for this matter? As we may know, the key reason for a military alliance does not completely lie in weak or strong military might but in the interests and positions of member countries. Moreover, it does not truly reflect realities when saying that our military might is weak and backward. According to the Global Firepower (GFP) ranking which utilises 55 individual factors (except for nuclear weapons) to determines a given nation’s PowerIndex score with categories ranging from total populations, square land area, equipment, defence budgets, manpower, logistics, natural resources to current economic capabilities, Viet Nam has always been among the top 25 countries with highest military strength in the world.

    Additionally, military strength of a nation cannot be simply evaluated by the military might itself, but in relation to that nation’s overall power. After 35 years of reform, Viet Nam has recorded great achievements of historical significance and developed vigorously in every aspect. The national overall power, which includes material and spiritual power, strength of tradition and modernity, strength in terms of economy, politics, culture, society, national defence, security, and diplomacy, is ceaselessly enhanced. The position and reputation of the country are elevated into a new height. The socialist regime is firmly maintained, strengthened, and increasingly proved its superiority. The Nowadays is consolidated, and the Party’s leadership is successfully preserved and leveraged. Never has our country enjoyed such fortunes, potential, status, and prestige as they are today, thus creating new opportunities and solid foundation for elevating our country into new heights in the cause of building and defending the socialist Fatherland.

    Consequently, if Viet Nam’s power is assessed using military strength and overall power of the nation, it is not too “weak” and “backward” as what is being spread by malicious people or cowards. Conversely, we have grounds for affirming and believing in the strength of the country and combining overall national power with power of the times to firmly safeguard the Fatherland in any situations without resorting to a military alliance with foreign countries.

    Fourth, Viet Nam’s success in firmly protecting national sovereignty, independence, and interests over the past few years is the success of building an independent, self-reliant, resilient national defence and security and the successful implementation of the policy of “diversifying and multilateralising” international relations. Viet Nam’s history of warfare has affirmed that it is the leverage of internal strength, self-reliance, and resilience that creates the source of greatest, strongest power to defend the Fatherland. Realities of the two wars of resistance against the French colonialists and American imperialists and their henchmen in the 20th century have demonstrated that our people’s outstanding victory resulted from pursuing a military guideline of independence, self-reliance in connection with the Party’s sound, absolute, direct leadership of national defence, security, and the armed forces. Nowadays, the building of an independent, self-reliant, resilient national defence and security in association with broadening and strengthening international cooperation in national defence and security aims to firmly protect national sovereignty and interests. Realities of reform provide solid grounds for the CPV to affirm that “We safeguard the Fatherland by means of the strength of the great national solidarity and combining overall national power with power of the times, in which the internal strength of the country, political regime, economy, and national capabilities is the key factor.”

    In addition, carrying out the policy of “diversifying and multilateralising” international relations, Viet Nam has established defence ties with over 80 countries and international organisations and set up defence attaché offices in 37 countries and to the United Nations so far. Forty-nine countries have set up their defence, military attaché offices in Viet Nam, thereby contributing to strengthening of international solidarity, consolidation and development of defence and security capabilities to meet requirements and missions of safeguarding the Fatherland.

    Therefore, the policy of “no military alliances” is correct and commensurate with today’s globalisation and international integration when peace, cooperation, and development are the mainstream; Viet Nam pursues a foreign policy of diversification, multilateralisation, being a good friend, a reliable partner, and an active, responsible of the international community. Implementation of this policy provides a basis for us to garner support of the international community for today’s national construction and defence.

    Author: Assoc.Prof, Dr. Phan Trong Hao, Central Theoretical Council

    Address: 135 Nguyen Phong Sac - Cau Giay - Ha Noi
    Email: ttdt@npa.org.vn