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Obama in Hanoi

America still bears the scars of the Vietnam War, the longest conflict in its history up to that time. At the height of the war more than 500,000 U.S. troops were involved in the fighting, which killed more than 58,000 Americans and wounded 303,000 over the course of a decade. Among the Vietnamese the casualties were even more horrific: Some 3.5 million soldiers and civilians were killed or wounded during the conflict. It was a bloody legacy that both countries have struggled to overcome in the years since the war ended in 1975.

That is why President Barack Obama is seeking to open a new chapter in relations between the two countries during his visit to Hanoi this week by announcing...