By James Rhodes –
Special to the New American Journal –
HANOI, Vietnam — Political pundit Bill Maher frequents laments over the stupidity and ignorance of the voting electorate in the United States. What amazes me is how grossly understated this phenomena actually happens to be. The most recent case in point is President Obama’s recent trip to Vietnam, where he just announced lifting the arms embargo.
Rather than point out what a great ally Vietnam is to America in the region, as well as being a first line of defense against China aggression in the Eastern Sea (South China Sea), conservative media criticizes “Obama’s policy against the military with his visit to Vietnam”- translated this means, to them, Obama specifically is opposed to the full accounting of American military personnel still unaccounted for during the conflict we started in Indochina.
We forget Ho Chi Minh had been a friend of the OSS (forerunner of the CIA) during WWII and was directly responsible for saving allied and American pilot’s lives by smuggling them out of regions held by Imperial Japan. We forget American foreign policy supported colonial France’s reoccupation of Vietnam immediately after the war, a colony they previously abandoned to the Japanese without offering resistance. It is interesting to note that during the Japanese advance, French soldiers executed many Vietnamese political prisoners before they turned tail and ran.
After the French defeat at Dien Bien Phu, the Paris Peace Accords guaranteed national unifying elections for Vietnam in 1956 — elections Eisenhower/Nixon prevented from happening. According to the “Pentagon Papers,” CIA intelligence predicted Ho Chi Minh would be elected president and this would be “bad for American business interests.” This had nothing whatsoever to do with any political ideology, which is what the American public was told as vulture capitalist beat the drums of war.
President Johnson furthered this cause by creating the alleged Gulf of Tonkin incident as an excuse to increase his war powers, without actually declaring war, and escalating our troop levels by lying to the American public about a Vietnamese naval attack on an American patrol boat. Until the Tet Offensive of 1968, U.S. media coverage was basically dictated by White House personnel. The public was apathetic and uncaring swallowing carte blanche anything the government, supported by the mass media, promoted as ‘The Gospel.’
As a veteran active in POW-MIA affairs for more than 20 years, I now ask where were these concerned conservatives when consecutive administrations labeled us “fringe and disgruntled veterans” and blamed us for “sabotaging real efforts” to bring about a full accounting?
Where were these concerned conservatives in 1988 when Col. James Bo Gritz challenged the Reagan administration on this issue and again in 1992 when he ran for president against George H. W. Bush?
During this presidential campaign Gritz released a video of Burma drug king-pin, Khun Sa, who detailed how he had supplied the U.S. government with drugs to finance covert operations in Laos and Cambodia. It was further alleged accounting for POW-MIAs had to be sacrificed as any credible investigation would uncover cover-ups by both the Reagan and Bush administrations. During this time period, conservatives viewed Gritz as a dastardly villain out to smear “good men.”
With POW-MIA full accountability being a primary focus, Ross Perot also ran for president in 1992, against George H. W. Bush, and in 1996 against Bill Clinton. Conservatives hated Perot as he specifically named Richard Armitage, a Bush appointee, as one of the people involved in the sale of drugs and the POW-MIA cover-up counterpart. The right wing dismissed Perot as a “crackpot” and “conspiracy nut.”
Another current reason to bash Vietnam lies in our foreign policy regarding Cambodia. Cambodia became free of French colonialism in 1863. Prince Norodom Sihanouk, after WWII, opposed both French colonialism and American involvement in SE Asia. For this Nixon worked with China to overthrow Sihanouk’s neutral government in Cambodia.
It was also at this point that the U.S. government began funding the Khmer Rouge. American tax dollars would continue to go to the Khmer Rouge through the Reagan and Bush administrations. Nixon supported Lon Nol, a U.S. puppet, to replace Sihanouk once he was deposed; however, Nixon was short sighted. The Khmer Rouge also ousted Lon Nol and the murderer Pol Pot came to power, with de facto U.S. approval, and over 3 million Cambodians were executed of which we turned a blind eye and deaf ear.
In 1978 although weary from their continuous combat with China, then France, then Japan, then France again, then the United States; the People’s Liberation Army of Vietnam (Quan Doi Nhan Dan) crossed over into Cambodia and put an end to the Communist Khmer Rouge genocide. The American and Western media treated the Vietnamese liberators as “an occupying foreign army” and had many bad, incorrect, untruthful things to say and print about them. Additionally in an attempt to discredit Vietnam, the Reagan administration sent the Khmer Rouge an additional $12 million of taxpayer monies.
In 1997 Khmer Rouge murderers Pol Pot, Khieu Samphan, Leng Sary were finally arrested and an attempt was made to bring them to justice; however, the United States government brought about administrative delays until these three psychopaths died natural and normal deaths without ever testifying in a court of law.
We should also remember that our personnel captured in Laos and Cambodia has never really been on the table. From personal experience I can attest that the government of Vietnam has been forthcoming and honest regarding this issue. The only threats I have received have been Western in nature.
Just in my small circle of activists, which has never received conservative backing, Tom Dobyns died unexpectedly and alone allegedly killing himself; Gene King died unexpectedly and alone of an alleged heart attack; Durman White died unexpectedly and alone of an alleged drug overdose; Harrison Stewart died unexpectedly and alone of undetermined cause. I have others, but this should indicate this is an unpopular issue that would uncover secrets that still pose a relevant threat to others with political power.
The question that should be asked is of those that have/had political power regarding this issue and did nothing. They would include, but not be limited to:
President George W. Bush (although not a native of Alabama, he hid out in the state in 1972 to avoid combat service and drug charges in Texas). POW-MIA was not an issue during his administration.
Vice President Dick Cheney, who besmirched military service of liberals, approved torture of non-combatant detainees and funneled billions of tax dollars to profit war companies of which he had an association, mainly Halliburton. POW-MIA was not one of his priorities.
Conservatives that could have served in the military during Vietnam but did not, then refused to champion the POW-MIA cause. These are the people FOX News should be interviewing as opposed to bashing the president for his trip to Hanoi and Saigon: Vice President Dan Quayle, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, Mitch McConnell, Eric Cantor, Saxby Chambliss, Tom Tancredo, John Ashcroft, Rudy Giuliani, Trent Lott, Bill Frist, Dennis Hastert, Tom DeLay, John Boehner, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh, Paul Wolfowitz, Roy Blunt, William Cohen, Jon Kyl, Phil Gramm, Elliott Abrams, Joe Lieberman, etc.
Vietnam is a true ally of the United States and our best friend in that region. We need to realize this.
We should also remember we poisoned millions of Vietnamese and Americans with toxic herbicides, including dioxin and Agent Orange, and left hundreds of children there who were fathered by American military personnel.
As Ted Cruz illustrates, if a child has one U.S. parent, then that child is a U.S. citizen. It is past time to do the right thing for herbicidal poison victims as well as the U.S. citizens we left behind. We must grant dual citizenship to those human beings fathered by American military personnel. We cannot have one standard for rich U.S. senators and another standard for everyone else.
© 2016, Glynn Wilson. All rights reserved.