Communist Review - Document of the 13th National Congress of the Party stated: "Performances achieved during 35 years of the renovation, 30 years of implementing the 1991 Platform of National's Construction During the Transition Period to Socialism, especially, during 10 years of implementing the Platform (supplemented and developed in 2011) have affirmed that the road to socialism in our country is in line with Vietnam's practices and the development trend of history”(1). To protect and promote these achievements, it is vital to firmly safeguard national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity, in which, defense diplomacy is considered a strategy to "defend the Fatherland early and from far" by peaceful means.
Defense diplomacy contributes to protecting the Fatherland early and from afar
Looking back at the thousands of years of history of the building and defending the country of Vietnam, it can be seen that previous generations have always attached great importance to protecting the Fatherland from afar by different measures: on the one hand, they have established peaceful diplomatic ties with neighboring countries; on the other hand, they have strengthened armed forces, consolidated national defense, and security. President Ho Chi Minh soon inherited and developed the Fatherland protection strategy from afar to a new height. He affirmed: "The country of Vietnam and the Vietnamese people are one"(2) and instructed the entire people and army of Vietnam: "The Hung kings founded this nation, we must defend it together”(3).
Inheriting those valuable ideologies and lessons, the Party and the State of Vietnam continue to affirm that the national defense strategy in the new situation is to protect the Fatherland "early and from afar" and it must be implemented comprehensively in every field. General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong stated that, in order to achieve the goals of socialism, one of the tasks to be performed is to "implement the diplomacy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralisation, diversification, peace, friendship, cooperation and development, proactive and active international integration”(4). The Document of the 13th National Congress also clearly stated: "Upholding independence, self-reliance, proactiveness in global integration and improving the efficiency of international cooperation" (5). This reflects innovative thinking on diplomacy and defense cooperation of the Party, and also shows the importance of foreign affairs and defense diplomacy in the construction of nationalism. Diplomacy is considered the first line of defense to protect the Fatherland early and from afar, and armed forces hold the key role in carrying out the mission of protecting the Fatherland early and from afar. This innovative mindset is shown as follows:
Firstly, the creative mindset in diplomacy and defense cooperation of the Party and the State of Vietnam has been developed through congresses (from the 6th to the 13th National Congress). Since 1986, the Party and State of Vietnam have had a new diplomatic mindset, creating a change in all defense diplomacy activities from "confrontation" to "dialogue" with the motto "making more friends and fewer enemies", "combining the strength of the nation with the strength of the times in new conditions"(6). The 7th Party Congress has advocated an "equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with all countries, regardless of their socio-political regimes under principles of peaceful coexistence(7). The 8th Congress has advocated the "Multi-faceted, bilateral and multilateral cooperation with countries and international organizations"; “multilateralization and diversification of foreign relations” with the motto “Vietnam wants to be a friend of all countries”(8).
In 2003, the Party set out a Strategy to defend the Fatherland in the new situation, changing the concept of friends and enemies and flexibly identifying partners and enemies; the fields in defense cooperation have been mentioned more specifically in the Congress documents. The 9th Congress determined that "Vietnam is willing to be a reliable friend and partner of all countries in the international community"(9). This is the first time the Party has advocated building partnerships and a high sense of responsibility in international relations. In this spirit, foreign diplomacy and defense cooperation have been actively enhanced at regional and international forums, both bilaterally and multilaterally. The 10th Congress affirmed: “It is essential to actively and proactively integrate into the international economy, and at the same time reinforce cooperation in other fields. Vietnam is a reliable friend and partner of countries in the international community. It is actively involved in the process of international and regional cooperation”(10). The 11th Congress developed a more inclusive policy when determining: “actively and proactively integrating into the world; raising national position, protecting national interests for a rich and strong socialist Vietnam. Vietnam is a reliable friend and partner and a responsible member of the international community”(11). Notably, for the first time in the congresses of the Party, defense diplomacy was expressly affirmed. The political report of the 10th Party Central Committee at the 11th Party Congress identified the important task of "Expanding defense and security diplomacy"(12). Implementing the policy of international integration of the 11th National Congress, the Central Military Commission issued Resolution No. 806-NQ/QUTW, dated December 31, 2013, on “International integration and defense diplomacy toward 2020 and the coming years", in which international integration and defense diplomacy are peaceful means to protect the Fatherland from afar. A sustainable and inclusive global integration and bilateral and multilateral defense diplomacy create a solid foundation promoting international integration and defense diplomacy to new heights, meeting the goals, tasks, and requirements of national construction and defense in the current situation. The 12th Congress reaffirmed the “proactive and active international integration, that Vietnam is a friend, a reliable partner and a responsible member of the international community”(13). The 13th Party Congress also emphasized: "Continuing to promote the pioneering role of diplomacy in creating and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, mobilizing external resources to develop the country, raising the country’s position and prestige”(14). The 13th Congress pointed out that one of the main tasks and solutions for socio-economic development in the five years from 2021 to 2025 is to "improve the efficiency of diplomacy, actively integrate into the international community, and create a peaceful environment and favorable conditions for national growth”(15). To concretize the Party's position on international integration, Politburo issued Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW, dated April 10, 2013, on "International integration", which for the first time clarified orientations for defense integration. This consists of "Promoting bilateral defense diplomacy with neighboring countries, ASEAN members, major countries, and traditional friends" and "Actively and proactively joining multilateral defense and security mechanisms to which our country is a member, first of all, those within the framework of ASEAN and led by ASEAN”(16).
It is obvious that the innovation mindset on foreign affairs and defense diplomacy has been deepened through the congresses to adapt to the current situation of the country in each period. In particular, foreign affairs and defense cooperation have been given more attention and considered as a strategy to protect the Fatherland from afar by peaceful means. This change in the diplomacy mindset of the Party has contributed to deepening international cooperation and integration in defense of the successful inclusive integration advocated by the Party and the State of Vietnam.
Secondly, there is consistency in defense cooperation guidelines and goals. The 2004 Vietnam National Defense White Paper defines the defense diplomacy policy as "establishing and developing exchange and cooperation relations under the principles of equality and mutual understanding with the armed forces of other countries"(17).Vietnam's National Defense White Paper in 2019 emphasizes: "Vietnam advocates developing defense relations with all countries"; “It is willing to expand defense relations regardless of differences in political regimes and development levels”. It keeps the spirit of “not accepting defense cooperation under any imposition or pressure”(18) and “Vietnam strengthens multilateral defense cooperation to maintain national defense and security and safeguard national sovereignty”(19). With the desire to "make more friends and fewer enemies", Vietnam advocates strengthening bilateral and multilateral defense cooperation with other countries and international organizations on the basis of respecting independence, sovereignty, non-interference in other's internal affairs, mutual benefits, solving common security challenges by international law as Vietnam National Defense White Paper in 2019 defines: "Vietnam consider joining multilateral defense and security cooperation mechanisms and other international legal bodies on the basis of respect for independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, non-interference in internal affairs of Vietnam”(20).
It can be seen that Vietnam's diplomacy in defense cooperation has clearly demonstrated the nature of the Vietnam People's Army, which is peace-loving, fighting for peace and justice.
With the motto of diversifying and multilateralizing international relations, cooperation and struggle, dynamism, creativity, flexibility, adaptability to national conditions as well as to regional and international, to the characteristics of each actor and specific functions and tasks of armed forces, the ultimate goal of defense diplomacy is to "contribute to the national construction, building armed forces, strengthening national defense, defending the Fatherland, and maintaining peace and security in the region and in the world”(21). Resolution No. 806-NQ/QUTW, dated December 31, 2013, of the Central Military Commission determines that the goal of defense diplomacy is to firmly safeguard the independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity of the Fatherland, protect the Party, State, people, and the socialist regime, advocate innovation, industrialization, and modernization, and protect national interests, maintain political security, social order and security and culture, political stability and peaceful environment; facilitate global integration of others sectors to build and develop the country towards socialism. In addition, defense diplomacy also aims at maintaining peace, stability, cooperation, and development in the region and the world, demonstrating Vietnam’s responsibility in regional and international affairs.
Significant contributions of the defense diplomacy to protecting the Socialist Fatherland early and from afar
Over the years, international integration and defense diplomacy have been continuously promoted, creating breakthroughs from awareness to action, thus contributing to raising the country's position, boosting strategic trust between states, and enhancing peace and cooperation in the region and the world. Defense diplomacy has become an important channel for strengthening Vietnam's relations with countries, organizations, and regions around the world. Defense diplomatic activities have built strategic trust and partnership. Vietnam has participated in many regional and international multilateral defense and military mechanisms and forums and has made active and important contributions. Thereby, the prestige and standing of the Vietnam People's Army in the international arena, as well as in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is boosted. Up to now, Vietnam has established defense ties with more than 100 countries around the world, including all five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council. It has also set up defense attaché offices in more than 30 countries while more than 40 countries have founded their defense attachés offices in Vietnam.
On the regional scale, by proactively joining the defense and military mechanisms of ASEAN since the early days of its establishment, Vietnam has increased its position and role in the defense diplomacy of ASEAN, especially in the mechanism of ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) and ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting Plus (ADMM+). The biggest success when participating in these mechanisms is that Vietnam has moved from purely participating to actively mastering the "game" and making "the rules of the game" and it has made its voice heard. Its proposals and initiatives are always highly appreciated by other countries and have proven effective when implemented in practice. Vietnam has built the image of a responsible, proactive, and active country in defense and military cooperation in ASEAN.
In the international arena, by joining the United Nations peacekeeping force, Vietnam has been affirming its position and prestige as a responsible country in the international community. Participating in UN peacekeeping missions is one of the pillars of defense diplomacy and a bright spot in the multilateral relations of the Vietnam People's Army in recent years. Notably, to create a legal corridor for joining this peacekeeping force, on November 13, 2020, the National Assembly passed Resolution No. 130/2020/QH14 on Vietnam's participation UN peacekeeping force. This shows strong political determination, affirming Vietnam's long-term commitment to the mission of preserving and creating peace in the region and the world which is in line with the diplomatic policies and International integration of Vietnam. Vietnam's green beret soldiers won the support of citizens of the countries where they set foot and spread their love for the Vietnamese nation to other nations. This constitutes a valuable spiritual asset that contributes to protecting the Vietnamese Fatherland early and from afar.
The breadth and depth of achievements obtained in military and defense as well as in politics, economy, culture, society, and diplomacy have contributed to enhancing the prestige and standing of Vietnam in the international arena; This is an important premise to firmly protect Socialist Vietnam early and from afar, creating an engine to build and develop the country during the process of global integration.
Deeply grasping the thesis on socialism and the path to socialism in Vietnam of General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong in his article named "Some theoretical and practical issues on socialism and the road to socialism in Vietnam", the Vietnam People's Army will strive to realize the goal of "resolutely and persistently defending independence, sovereignty, unification, territorial integrity of the Fatherland; protecting the Party, State, people, and the socialist regime... Actively preventing the risks of war and conflict early and from afar; early detecting and promptly addressing adverse factors, especially unpredictable factors; fighting all plots and destructive activities of hostile forces”(22) in order to succeed in the cause of building socialism in Vietnam. By implementing the country's development orientation from 2021 to 2030: “Continuing to implement the foreign policy of independence, self-reliance, multilateralization, and diversification; proactively and actively integrating into the world comprehensively, extensively and effectively; maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, increasing Vietnam's international position and prestige", Vietnam's defense diplomacy will actively promote international cooperation at the bilateral and multilateral level effectively and substantially, contributing to consolidating and raising the position of Vietnam in general and the Vietnamese People's Army in particular in the international arena.
Amidst complicated regional and global situations when advantages and challenges, opportunities and risks are intertwined, national independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity and stability are always threatened, the Vietnam People's Army must assume greater responsibility. Therefore, to implement the strategy of “protecting the Fatherland early and from afar by peaceful means" to firmly consolidate the "first line of defense", defense diplomacy must continue to implement the motto of "proactiveness, safety, flexibility, effectiveness", make innovative ideas and effectively advise the Party and State in related fields to take quick action and get a great win at the negotiating table and on the diplomatic front, reinforce defense cooperation to strengthen internal forces, mobilize external material and spiritual resources to build a pure, compact, strong army", thus contributing to improving the country's power and position in the international arena.
(1) Documents of the 13th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, vol. I, p. 104
(2) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p.13, p. 245
(3) Ho Chi Minh: Complete works, ibid, vol. 9, p. 59
(4) Nguyen Phu Trong: Some theoretical and practical issues about socialism and the road to socialism in Vietnam, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2021, p. 24
(5) Documents of the 13th National Congress, ibid, vol. II, p. 325
(6) Documents of the 6th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1987, p. 30
(7) Documents of the 7th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1991, p. 88
(8) Documents of the 8th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 1996, p. 120
(9) Document of the 9th National Congress, National Politics Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, p. 119
(10) Documents of the 10th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2006, p. 112
(11), (12) Documents of the 11th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2011, p. 83 - 84, 233
(13) Documents of the 12th National Congress, Ibid., p. 153
(14) Documents of the 13th National Congress, National Political Publishing House, vol. I, p.162
(15) Documents of the 13th National Congress, ibid, vol. II, p.153
(16) Resolution No. 22-NQ/TW, dated April 10, 2013, of the Politburo “On international integration”
(17) Ministry of National Defense: Regulation on organization and management of military foreign affairs (amended and supplemented), Publishing House of People's Army, Hanoi, 2007, p. 60
(18), (19), (20) Ministry of National Defense: Vietnam National Defense 2019, National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2019, p. 28, 28, 29
(21) Ministry of National Defense: Vietnam National Defense White Paper, Publishing House of The World, Hanoi, 2009, p. 23
(22) Documents of the 13th National Congress, ibid, vol. II, p. 331
This article was published in the Communist Review No. 1002 (November 2022)