Wandering the narrow streets of what was the enemy capital in the Vietnam War, American visitors to Hanoi can find themselves wondering, what American trade embargo?
Vietnam Airlines flies many of them here on its shiny new Boeing jets. The city's electronics stores carry IBM and Apple computers, and even the computers that bear Taiwanese or Korean brand names are powered by a computer chip manufactured by the Intel Corp. Those familiar yellow boxes of Kodak film are on sale in plenty of photo shops and for Hanoi teenagers, Coca-Cola is the soft drink of choice.Not far from Ho Chi Minh's hulking gray marble mausoleum, video shops are promising the first pirated copies of "Jurassic Park" some time this fall.
To a degree that the U.S. government seems unwilling to admit, the 18-year-old American trade embargo on Vietnam is crumbling.
After generations of Communist central planning, the Hanoi government is opening its economy to the world. And the technology that Washington had fought for so long to keep out of Vietnamese hands is getting here, usually through third-country middlemen who are delighted to profit from the sale of technology that Americans pioneered but cannot sell in Vietnam themselves.
American business executives eager to profit from one of the developing world's most promising markets insist that they - not the Vietnamese - are now the chief victims of the embargo.
Many Vietnamese agree. After years of accusing Washington of using the embargo to force this nation into submission, Vietnamese officials acknowledge that they are now getting most of the technology and foreign investment money that they can use, at least for today.
"Americans are losing a market of 72 million people that we don't need to lose," said James Rockwell, an American business consultant based in Hanoi whose clients include the Chrysler Corp.
"Vietnam is not waiting for us anymore," he said, the American flag flapping in the humid breeze outside the window of his company's offices here.