Tag Archives: communist

The Vietnam War Through Red Lenses

The Last Days in Vietnam is an Oscar-nominated documentary covering the very end of South Vietnam, in April, 1975. Rory Kennedy’s dramatically sad and horrific documentary is both difficult (for a Vietnam Veteran at least) to watch and a chronicle of American compassion and angst. The fall of a democratic society to Communist tyranny should be lamented by Americans, who sacrificed greatly in their defense. It is a film of pathos, frustrating and yet strongly uplifting at times as American soldiers, diplomats and newsmen risk their careers and their lives to save Vietnamese friends from the invading North Vietnamese Army.

Uplifting, unless you’re Associate Professor Christoph Giebel of the University of Washington, Seattle. In a review of the film posted to the website of Vietnam Scholars Group (sic) by Professor Giebel, the film is “dangerously simplistic,” and “much more of a commentary on current US culture—steeped in nationalistic discourses of exceptionalism, thoroughly militarized, and narcissistic—than a reflection of its actual quality.” In fact, the film “is the worst attempt at documenting the war (he) has seen in a long time.”

Aside from the obvious fact that the film is not attempting to document the war but the final American evacuation from the war, Professor Giebel’s statement that the first twenty five minutes of the documentary “quickly abandon all pretense of historical accuracy or balance” quite adequately describes his own (following) rant about the Vietnam War.

[Background: In the spring of 1975, two years after U.S. combat units had left Vietnam, twelve divisions of the North Vietnamese Army invaded South Vietnam. The U.S. Congress refused to re-enter the war, although it had pledged to do so in the event of massive violations of the Paris Peace Agreements. Although many South Vietnamese units fought valiantly and brilliantly, they were no match for the Russian-armed North Vietnamese troops and heavy weapons. In April, 1975, the North Vietnamese overran Saigon and took over the country. The Americans were slow to evacuate thousands of South Vietnamese who had worked with them and who were in mortal danger from the Communists. Panic and anger overtook the final days of the war.]

Giebel posts six “main issues” with the documentary:

1. “US centrism and exceptionalism”

Of course the “notion” of the U.S. aid cut is anything but debunked. The U.S. congressional records are replete with discussions, debates and resolutions concerning the aid cut. A history professor teaching anything contrary is irrefutably wrong. Giebel’s use of the term “trotted out” also indicates a disdain for historical documentation which, easily accessed, refutes his position.

2. “Complex US debates reduced to literal “abandonment” “

Giebel’s “issue” here is illusory but seems to be that America did not abandon the South Vietnamese —it was more complex than that and not just the result of anti-war protestors and a liberal/Democrat US Congress. Which, of course, was exactly what it was. His final statement is “Congressional sons- of-bitches and the anti-war protestors did not and (sic) cold-heartedly stabbed ‘South Viet Nam’ in the back.” Which, of course, they did.

Giebel goes on to muse, “I will not speak to the adventurous notion that Congressional appropriation (not assembling, shipping, delivering, distributing), on April 17, of emergency military aid, in violation of the Paris Agreement, would have made a lick of difference before April 30.” He would have been better off to stick with his gut feeling. By that comment he makes it known to all that he has scant knowledge of America’s military might or system (he thought we would get on the phone and order bullets? Rush delivery, I suppose) or the ability of an American air force to obliterate a Communist army strung along miles of South Vietnam highways, with no air cover and little mobile anti-aircraft weaponry. Every military pilot in the U.S. would have volunteered for those missions. Giebel is just childish in his belief that the North Vietnamese Army was somehow immune to this fate in the face of air and naval gunfire attacks. (Yet he was more than likely a voice of screaming rage when the Americans bombed Hanoi into submission and a peace treaty in December of 1973.) In every engagement in the course of the war when Hanoi gathered massive weaponry and soldiers, they were wiped off the map.

3. “False and manipulative framing along US propagandistic, Cold War rhetoric:”

And what is this manipulative US propaganda? Giebel says: There never was a South Vietnam and therefore there was never an invasion of South Vietnam by North Vietnam.

His statement, breathtaking in its ignorance, can only be viewed in light of the Communist (for which Giebel, at the very least, is a first class apologist) methodology of erasing history which does not support their actions and propaganda. Giebel goes far beyond the oft “trotted out” claim that the war was a Civil War, ignoring the Communist North Vietnam bloody and brutal conquest of vast areas of Laos and Cambodia (as if the Confederate Army had invaded Mexico and Canada during the US civil war).

Under Giebel’s view of the world, there was/is no South Korea. In reality, the only difference between South Vietnam and South Korea is that the U.N. forces did not abandon South Korea after stopping the Communist attempts to take over the southern half of the Korean peninsula. Existing as a struggling democratic country in 1973, with U.N. and Peace Treaty defined borders, South Vietnam had a democratically elected government, and the individual freedoms known only in Western societies, facts Giebel simply ignores.

4. “One-sided misrepresentation of the Paris Agreement (sic)”

Just when one would think Giebel could not posit a more blatant untruth about the war, he does. He cites the violations of the 1973 peace accord and the “much more aggressive violations of the ceasefire by the ARVN (South Vietnamese).” Of course, fairness being a Communist apologist’s prime concern, he allows that the “revolutionary (North Vietnamese) side violated the Peace Agreement as well, albeit initially in a reactive manner.” The statement is so stupid—there is no other word for it— that a rebuttal is superfluous. Suffice it to say that the ARVN never perpetrated an attack onto North Vietnamese soil. Period.

5. “One-sided representation of war-time violence.”

Is there a need to even respond? Communists slaughtered an estimated 50,000 of their own people within weeks of taking control of the country after defeating the French in 1954. Proportionately, their slaughter of village leaders in South Vietnam during the war would be the equivalent slaughter of 20,000 mayors and council members of U.S. towns. The disagreement about the Communists burying men, women children alive during their occupation of HUE after Tet ’68, is over the number, not the act. Most Western accounts put the number at 3,000 to 4,000. The Communists say they buried alive less than a thousand. Giebel’s statement in his review is that the West, primarily the U.S and their South Vietnamese ally, claim to “have perpetrated no violence, no one else suffered.” The statement is ridiculous and worthy of inclusion in no review above the sophomore year in high school level. Of course. there was never such a claim.

6. Finally, “Racist/orientalist reductionism of the Vietnamese actions, motivations, and feelings.”

Giebel believes that the West has “long-standing racist notions…that ‘the natives’ are easily swayed by, and can be kept under control through, fear, ‘shock and awe’ and the threat of violence.” That our view was one of “the superstitious, emotional, child-like Little Brown ‘commie.’

It is, in fact, a basic foundation of the apologists for the Communist takeover of South Vietnam that the people of South Vietnam were too uneducated, too unsophisticated, to understand the difference between a Communist regime and one based on democratic principles, that the one million South Vietnamese military casualties were the result of American propaganda and coercion. That given the open choice, the South Vietnamese would have chosen to live under the already exhibited brutal Communist government from the North. That they preferred thought police, restriction of movement and expression, labor camps, and the oppression of government bureaucracy to a chance for freedom and choice. But with the invasion North Vietnamese forces and the abandonment of our ally by the Democrat U.S. Congress, they got the Communists.

It is ludicrous to believe they freely chose their own enslavement.

Giebel has written at least one other “apology” for the Vietnamese communists. Entitled “Imagined Ancestries of Vietnamese Communism,” the first two chapters of the book are devoted to explaining and justifying the lies and misrepresentations Ton Duc Thang, North Vietnam’s second president, made in order to become a national hero and Communist leader. Communists and their apologists have no compunction to base power or truth, or history, on fact. It is a dubious, at best, requisite for a professor of history at an American University.

I once visited Professor Giebel’s class to freshman at the university. On the board was written—“The greatest danger to world peace is American hegemony.” It was no surprise, at a later date, to find he was a signed-up supporter of Bill Ayers—probably the most dangerous and traitorous of the anti- Vietnam War protestors.

Professor Giebel teaches history at a major American university. In my opinion, he shouldn’t. (On a campus which once refused to allow a memorial to Pappy Boyington, one of the greatest Marine Corps aces in World War II, perhaps there is no surprise.) Perhaps there is a place for teaching a European leftist (Giebel was born in Germany) view of American history. But it should be called what it is.

I invite Professor Giebel to debate a real Viet Nam War scholar and will gladly volunteer to arrange a public forum for that event. Taxpayers should be made aware of what their children are being taught.

Phillip Jennings is a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Viet Nam War and the author of two books on the war.

Comrades In Arms – An Excerpt

One of our members, Dr. Roger Canfield, has published a massive book detailing all of the associations and actions of the anti-war activists involved in the Vietnam War, demonstrating their close cooperation with worldwide communism.  (The book is over 2,100 pages and more than 6,000 footnotes.)  When I suggested, on an academic discussion list, that Dr. Canfield’s book had merit and should be studied, the response I got was that no reputable scholar would read a book with that title.

So much for the spirit of inquiry.

Father Daniel Joseph Berrigan was a Jesuit priest who became actively involved in the Vietnam War’s anti-war movement.

Comrades—BerriganDanielExcerpts

What you will not see in obituaries for Daniel Berrigan

Excerpts from Roger Canfield’s Comrades in Arms: How the Americong Won the War in Vietnam Against the Common Enemy—America. An e-book at http://americong.com

Catholic Peace Fellowship at Christian Peace Conference in Prague

Fellowship of Reconciliation’s John Heidbrink invited Catholic Worker’s Jim Forest, Father Daniel Berrigan, Herman Evans and James Douglass to, very curiously, the Communist capitol of Prague to formalize the Catholic Peace Fellowship as an affiliate of FOR.[1] Happy coincidence?

Christian Peace Conference, June 1964, Prague

At the end of June 1964 in Prague, Czechoslovakia the Christian Peace Conference, CFC, met. A U.S. based committee recruited Americans to attend the CPC.[2] Alfred Hassler of Fellowship of Reconciliation, FOR, had tasked John Heidbrink to recruit American Catholics into FOR and the peace movement. Though formed in 1963 in the USA by Jim Forest, Marty Corbin and Philip Berrigan,[3] FOR’s John Heidbrink invited Catholic Worker’s Jim Forest, Father Daniel Berrigan, Herman Evans and James Douglass to, very curiously, the Communist capitol of Prague to formalize the Catholic Peace Fellowship as an affiliate of FOR.[4] Could members of the universal Catholic Church become recruits to international Communism? Unfortunately, yes.

Communist controlled East European leadership, (Joseph Hromadka, Alexander Karew, Archbishop Nikodim, Bishop Barta, and Prof. Schmauch) entirely dominated The Christian Peace conference, CPC.[5]

….As LBJ was signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, David Dellinger was leading a protest against the Vietnam War in Lafayette Park across from the White House. Joining Dellinger were A.J. Muste, Joan Baez, Rabbi and Democrat fundraiser[6] Abraham Feinberg, and Catholic priests Daniel and Phillip Berrigan. The protest was to draw attention to a “Declaration of Conscience” against the draft.[7] Meanwhile, Catholics faced the gentle touch of the Vietcong in South Vietnam. July 14, 1964, the Viet Cong executed Pham Thao, chairman of the Catholic Action Committee in Quang Ngai, …

…In 1967 Berrigan had had considerable conflict with superiors in his Jesuit order over his desire to go to Hanoi with the Fellowship of Reconciliation, FOR, to bring medical supplies. Thomas Merton, a Communist while at Columbia University and then a dupe of communist front groups,[8] advised Berrigan to follow his conscience.[9]

…Writers and Editors Tax Protest against “Immoral” Vietnam War

During late 1967 and early 1968 Gerald Walker of the New York Times Sunday Magazine organized a protest against an LBJ proposed 10% tax on telephones and “many of us” opposed “23% of current income to …finance the (‘morally wrong’) Vietnam War. The ad was printed in Ramparts, New York Review of Books, and the New York Post in January and February 1968.

Many had far left, including Communist, credentials and engaged in pro-Hanoi activities. Out of 528 signers the most noteworthy were. M. S. Arnoni[10], Robert B. Avakian, James Baldwin, Irving Beinin, Daniel Berrigan, S. J., Philip Berrigan, …

…Declaration of Conscience

For some it was their last pretense of neutrality before going over to the other side.

The Catholic Worker, the Committee for Nonviolent Action (CNVA), the Student Peace Union (SPU), and the War Resisters League (WRL) published the “Declaration of Conscience Against the War in Vietnam.” Some 6,000 signed including Daniel and Phil Berrigan, ….The Declaration argued that opposing Communist would spread it further. “There is not one shred of credible evidence that the bulk of munitions used by the Vietcong originate in the north.”

… On February 16, 1968, Father Daniel Berrigan and Professor Howard Zinn traveled to Hanoi and met Pham Van Dong. According to Berrigan’s notes, Dong said, in part, “…We have a common front. We are in combat here and you there.”[11] As comrades in arms, they were surely on the same side….

In March 1968, Mary McCarthy, self-described utopian socialist and member of the international literati arrived in Hanoi in the midst of the Tet Offensive and on the heels of the release of three American POWs to Father Daniel Berrigan and Professor Howard Zinn. …

…On tour [in Hanoi] Dellinger saw bombed hospitals. Thereafter the now Hanoi-credentialed Dellinger, like Tom Hayden before him, helped arrange trips to North Vietnam for others such as Diane Nash Bevel, Patricia Griffith, Daniel Berrigan, Howard Zinn and various women and clergy groups.[12] Hayden and Dellinger, joined by Cora Weiss, the three became Hanoi’s major gatekeepers for fellow travelers to Hanoi and Paris.

…The most noteworthy and published American and western contributors to the Bulletin of Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars during the Vietnam War and its immediate aftermath, 1968-1977, were: Iqbal Ahmad, Doug Allen, Frank Baldwin, Dan Berrigan, Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars, CCAS, for the expressed purpose to oppose The “brutal aggression of the United States in Vietnam” and to encourage “anti-imperialist research.” …

It was socialism of the peculiar communist kind. As uncritically Marxist the CCAS promoted Mao’s cultural revolution.[13]

MaoistPoster

CCAS supported several generations of pro-Hanoi historians of the Vietnam War …

…Hanoi POW Releases—Berrigan and Zinn

After a telegrammed request from the Vietnamese Peace Committee citing “a repentant attitude” of several POWs on January 28, 1968 to David Dellinger, on February 17, 1968, Tom Hayden and David Dellinger coordinated[14] a second POW release to Father Daniel Berrigan and professor and secret Communist Howard Zinn. …

Upon arrival in “the destroyed city” of Hanoi, Catholic priest and poet, Daniel Berrigan thought, “the loveliest fact of all was the most elusive and insignificant, we had been received with flowers”[15] also sandals, and the poems of Ho Chi Minh.[16]

…“Feeling of victory in Hanoi during the Viet Cong Tet offensive.”

At the North Vietnamese Embassy in Vientiane, Laos during Tet on February 9 Berrigan says the Hanoi Vietnamese “are too humane to rake over our losses [in Tet]. …Time has gone over to their side, in the night.” They are so courteous and gentle “during a week of humiliation of the Allies.”[17] Zinn said, “there was a lot of feeling of victory in Hanoi during the Viet Cong Tet offensive. …the NLF is a force in its own right.”[18]

… “We wanted badly to wander by ourselves, but the danger was explained to us.”[19]

Instead of going to see what was going on, Zinn and Berrigan listened to a six-hour lecture from Col. Ha Van Lau[20] followed by days filled with an orchestrated tour of bomb debris, damaged hospital, war museums, commune, folk art and a film on the life of Ho.

They were shown the damaged body parts (e.g. “brain and skull and heart and viscera”) in jars of victims of bombings. It all proved America was waging “a monstrous and intentionally genocidal war.”[21] Berrigan believed black ghettos in the USA were also evidence of “genocidal intent.” Berrigan’s hate for America seemed to fuel his love for Hanoi.[22]

Premier Pham Van Dong: “great intelligence…great reserves of compassion.”

On February 16, 1968 Berrigan and Zinn met Premier Pham Van Dong at his French villa and garden behind armored doors.

Berrigan saw in the “face of this man…complexity dwells…life and death…great intelligence, and yet also great reserves of compassion.” (Seven years later in 1975 Dong’s mother saw no such compassion and fled her son’s invasion [of South Vietnam]. …

“We are in combat here, and you there.”

According to Berrigan’s notes, Dong said, in part, “Your visit is of some importance… We ask…that you clarify the meaning of war for your fellow Americans.” Dong said, “public opinion in your country is of the essence.” Further “we have a common front. We are in combat here, and you there.”[23] Comrades in arms, they were on the same side.

POWs: Correct Attitude

The Vietnamese explained to Berrigan and Zinn why they were releasing POW pilots. “We are trying to educate the pilots. …It is not easy to convince these men of a new way; long and patient explanation is requires. …. Is it possible, that (the pilots will)…do something for the antiwar movement in the United States?”[24]

Bratislava comrade Ray Mungo of Liberation News Service, received a Telex, “doubtless written by some of the Vietnamese I’d met in Bratislava, and this from Zinn and Berrigan”:

RELEASE OF THREE AIRMEN IMMINENT.

NORTH VIETNAMESE OUTRAGED AT CONTINUING BOMBARDMENT BUT RETAIN COMPASSION FOR AIRMEN WHO ARE TRAPPED BY WASHINGTON DECISIONS.

HOPE RELEASED AIRMEN NEVER AGAIN BOMB YET AWARE POSSIBILITY THREE RELEASED PILOTS RETURN TO BOMB VIETNAM.

WE ARE MOVED BY NORTH VIETNAMESE STATEMENT “EVEN IF THIS HAPPENS WE RETAIN FAITH IN ULTIMATE DECENCY OF AMERICAN PEOPLE.[25]

No Longer Hostages

There was one hitch in the propaganda driven release.

The prisoners were “escorted as far as Vientiane, where the [POW] officers elected to transfer to US military aircraft.”[26] Instead of Father Berrigan and Professor Zinn, the POWs soon had official U.S. government escorts.[27]

…Berrigan wrote to POW families that the mental and physical condition of the men was good and so was their weight. Berrigan had every reason to believe that the Vietnamese acted “humanely toward prisoners.”[28]

Berrigan believed the North Vietnamese. The POWs were reformed just like the French prisoners before them by “a process of inward change.” And so “without prompting,” the POWs readily told Berrigan how good their food and medical care was.[29]

…POW Escort Berrigan: Jesuit Napalms Draft Cards

Maj. Norris Overly’s escort Daniel Berrigan and eight others –Philip Berrigan, David Darst, John Hogan, Tom Lewis, Marjorie Melville, Thomas Melville, George Mische and Mary Moylan– had earned considerable media notoriety as the Cantonsville Nine.

They staged the napalming of the draft files of 378 persons in wire trashcans before an assembled crowd of reporters at the Catonsville, Maryland draft board. FOR’s Allan Brick characterized it all as a nonviolent act of conscience.[30]

“Their major accomplishment was scaring the hell out of the little old ladies at the office of the Catonsville draft board,” remembers Pat Joyce, an editor at the Baltimore Evening Sun and of several Catholic newspapers.[31] Convicted and sentenced to three years in prison, Berrigan went underground, was captured and served 18 months before being paroled in 1972.  …

…Entertainment Industry for Peace and Justice

In planning for Hollywood celebrations of May Day 1971 and other causes, Jane Fonda, Shirley and Donald Sutherland formed the Entertainment Industry for Peace and Justice, EIPJ,[32] in March 1971. …

Donald Sutherland introduced film excerpts of “Winter Soldier,” which had premiered at Cannes and at the Whitney Museum in New York, focusing on VVAW that war crimes were American policy in Vietnam. Lancaster read a statement from Daniel Berrigan and introduced Fonda who described EIPJ as part of a broad coalition for peace and justice. Only later would Jon Voight describe how he “was surrounded by people were heavily programed Marxist…very, very deep.”[33] He concluded there was “Marxist propaganda underlying the so-called peace movement.” He told Glenn Beck, “I didn’t even realize it at the time…the communists were behind organizing all of these rallies and things.” [34]

CP World Assembly for Peace Versailles, France February 11-13, 1972

“A horde of Communist-controlled agitators”

Soviet controlled fronts, World Peace Council, WPC, and the Stockholm Conference on Vietnam joined by 48 French Communist Party and associated organizations sponsored a World Assembly for Peace in Versailles, France from February 11-13, 1972.

…The plenary session of the Assembly in Versailles then adopted a specific six week antiwar program, virtual instructions, for the U.S. antiwar movement for April and May: April 1 defense of Harrisburg defendants Berrigan et al, Angela Davis; April 15, Tax Resistance Day; and in early May, actions inside military bases.[35]

Protests were to encourage “draft evasions, desertions, resistance, demonstrations which now effect even soldiers.”[36]

…On March 20, 1972 New York Times man, Seymour Hersh, returned from Hanoi to hand off Hanoi’s POW mail to Daniel Berrigan who held a press conference at New York’s Main Post Office at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street announcing he was joining COLIFAM.[37] Berrigan, escort to three POWS, was surely on Hanoi’s approved list since it had selected all of COLIFAM’s members.

Americans Begging to Dissent, Nicely…Please

…In Moscow, a group of Americans—Paul Mayer, Grace Paley, Noam Chomsky, David Dellinger, David McReynolds and Sidney Peck– chose to send a tepid message of support for political dissenters in the Soviet Union. A stronger message was not sent because of differences with “Russian friends.”[38] The American “friends” argued they had “earned a right” to a slight dissent because they were “outspoken critics” of the “monstrous …attacks on Indochina” and, like their friendly hosts, sought “social justice.”

They certainly were not seeking to make any invidious comparisons between the Soviet’s relatively bloodless Warsaw Pact intervention in Czechoslovakia with the truly “hideous loss of life” in Chile. Solidarity with Allende’s Chile was a major program of the CPUSA and its fronts.[39]

…Genuflections complete, the group simply announced, “We support the Soviet dissidents.” Grace Paley, Father Paul Mayer, Noam Chomsky, Dave Dellinger, David McReynolds, Sidney Peck, Father Dan Berrigan and unrecorded others signed the pathetic petition.[40] The whole body of the World Congress of Peace Forces, including over 150 of the 200 American delegates, “disassociated itself from [the] statement.”[41] The “dissent” message appears to have been meant for an American headline, perhaps in the New York Review of Books.

Vietnam: Fulfilling the Obligations of National Security With Restraint

…Acting with restraint unknown to government institutions elsewhere, the FBI, NSA, DIA, ONI, local police and CIA[42] did attempt to discover collaboration with the enemy.

…The FBI was wiretapping the telephones of 17-30 individuals in 1970 out of over 220 million Americans.

…Of 2,370 COINTELPRO operations over 15 years 58% were against the Communist Party.[43]

Again the list of alleged targets is long including Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Jr., AIM leader Leonard Peltier, Black Liberation Army (BLA) Sundiata Acoli, Assata Shakur, Dhoruba Al-Mujahid Bin Wahad (formerly Richard Moore), and the New York 3 (Herman Bell, Anthony “Jalil” Bottom, and Albert “Nuh” Washington), Cesar Chavez, Fathers Daniel and Phillip Berrigan, Rev. Jesse Jackson, David Dellinger.

…As we have seen above many of these individuals and groups were worthy of FBI attention.

…COINTEL operations against the New Left were 8.3% of the total. 91.7% had little or nothing to do with the New Left opposition to the war.

Joan Baez …Open Letter to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam

Co-Signers . Daniel Berrigan, serial supporter of Communist Party USA (CPUSA) fronts, the Socialist Workers party (SWP), traveled to Hanoi in 1968 with secret Communist Howard Zinn to take custody of American POWs, joined Hanoi front COLIFAM[44] exploiting POWs, member of Cantonsville Nine which napalmed local draft files, attended Citizens Conference on Ending the War in Indochina in Paris[45] meeting Vietnamese communists, in March 1971 joined Jane Fonda’s Entertainment Industry for Peace and Justice, EIPJ,[46] and later allied with the Workers World Party (WWP).

Baez remembered, “A campaign was launched to stop me.

…Previous Associates of Hayden-Fonda Left Joined Joan Baez

Despite such pressure, many friends of Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda did sign the Joan Baez ad: Ed Asner, Daniel Berrigan, Pat Brown (not Jerry Brown), David Carliner (ACLU), Caesar Chavez, Benjamin Dreyfus, Douglas Fraser, Allen Ginsberg, Lee Grant, Terence Hallinan, Nat Nentoff, Norman Lear, Staughton Lynd, Mike Nichols, I.F. Stone, William Styron, Lily Tomlin, Peter Yarrow….

[1] Thomas C. Cornell, “Catholic Peace Fellowship Ten years Old,” The National Catholic Reporter, April 25, 1975; Christian Peace Conference 1964-66, correspondence of Jim Forest and John Heidbrick, Catholic Peace Fellowship, CCPF 2/12 Folder, Notre Dame Archives, CPF 002.

[2] United States Committee for the Christian Peace Conference, 1966-1967, Box 11, Records of the Church Peace Mission, 1950-1967, Collection: DG 177, Swarthmore College Peace Collection, Swarthmore, PA.

[3] Relationship of FOR to CPF, Catholic Peace Fellowship Records, University of Notre Dame Archives, CCPF boxes 11-17.

[4] Thomas C. Cornell, “Catholic Peace Fellowship Ten years Old,” The National Catholic Reporter, April 25, 1975; Christian Peace Conference 1964-66, correspondence of Jim Forest and John Heidbrick, Catholic Peace Fellowship, CCPF 2/12 Folder, Notre Dame Archives, CPF 002.

[5] Radio Free Europe June 10, 1964, Open Society Archives, U.S.A.BOX-FOLDER-REPORT: 17-1-95. at http://files.osa.ceu.hu/holdings/300/8/3/text/17-1-95.shtml.

[6] 8/25/1972, FBI, Information Digest, Special Report on VVAW, http://www.wintersoldier.com/staticpages/index.php?page=InfoDigestGuide

[7] Andrew E. Hunt, David Dellinger: The Life and Times of a Nonviolent Revolutionary, New York: NY University Press, 2006, 135 cites James Tracy, Direct Action: Radical Pacifism from the Union Eight to the Chicago Seven, Chicago; Chicago University Press, 1996, 128 and New York Times July 4, 1964; Nancy Zaroulis and Gerald Sullivan, Who Spoke Up: American Protest Against the War in Vietnam 1963-1975, New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1984, 20.

[8] Paul Kengor, Dupes: How America’s Adversaries Have Manipulated Progressives for a Century, Wilmington: ISI Books, 2010, 86, n29 528.

[9] Berrigan, Daniel. Night Flight to Hanoi: War Diary with 11 Poems. New York: Macmillan, 1968.

[10] M.S. Arnoni was the publisher of Minority of One which printed many Soviet propaganda articles according to Oleg Kalugin, Arnoni’s control officer. Kalugin also had KGB-written and funded ads placed in the New York Times and the Nation.

[11] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 128.

[12] James W. Clinton interview of David Dellinger, January 23, 1991 and November 16, 1990 in James W. Clinton, The Loyal Opposition: Americans in North Vietnam, 1965-1972, Niwot: University Press of Colorado, 1995, 47-51.

[13] Richard Baum, China and The American Dream: a Moral Inquiry, Seattle: University of Washington, 2010, 236-9.

[14] FBI, FOIA, Howard Zinn.

[15] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, 38, 134 cited in Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims, 356.

[16] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, XIV, cited in Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims, 371.

[17] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 31.

[18] FBI, FOIA, Howard Zinn, BS 100-35505

[19] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 41.

[20] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 50-6.

[21] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 65.

[22] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 55; Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, 78-9, 86, 111 cited in Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims, 201.

[23] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 128.

[24] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, New York: Macmillan, 1968, 42-3.

[25] Ray Mungo, Famous Long Ago: My Life And Hard Times With Liberation News Service, Citadel Press, 1970, 28. http://www.sunrisedancer.com/radicalreader/library/famouslongago.pdf

[26] CIA, FOIA, case number EO11978-00207, “International Connections of US Peace Groups—III,” 2-3.

[27] Tom Hayden, “Impasse …” Ramparts, Aug. 24, 1968, 18.

[28] (Rev)Daniel Berrigan to Dear Friends, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, March 3, 1968.

[29] Daniel Berrigan, Night Flight to Hanoi, 78-9, 86, 111 cited in Paul Hollander, Political Pilgrims,353.

[30] Allan Brick, Report on the Cantonsville Nine: What is Nonviolence Today? Pamphlet at Political Pamphlet Collection, University of Missouri Special Collection; Marion Mollin, Radical Pacifism in Modern America: Egalitarianism and Protest, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006.

[31] Joyce to author.

[32] Contemporary flyer announcing event in possession of author.

[33] Glenn Beck show, Fox News, June 11, 2009.

[34] Jon Voight, op ed. Washington Times, July 28, 2008, http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2008/jul/28/voight/

[35] FBI, Denver, Memo, “VVAW National Steering Committee Meeting, Denver, Colo, February 18-21, 1972, Internal Security-new Left,” March 17, 1972, 31-33.

[36] [Unsigned, likely John Dougherty and or Bernard Wells], Intelligence Evaluation Group Committee and Staff, “Foreign Support for Activities Planned to Disrupt or Harass the Republican National Convention,” 21 March, 1972, CIA, FOIA, Family Jewels,553-4.

[37] Daily World, March 21, 1972; FBI, SAC New York to Director, COLIFAM IS-New Left AIRTEL, March 21, 1972;

[38] Ray Ellis, “The World Congress of Peace Forces,” Political Affairs, Journal of Marxist Thought and Analysis, January. 1974, 14.

[39] e.g. National Conference in Solidarity with Chile, February 8-9, 1975 at Concordian Teachers College in River Forest outside of Chicago. CPUSA fronts as Trade Unionists for Action and Democracy, TUAD; the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, NAARPR, National Lawyers Guild, NLG; Emma Lazarus Clubs; Venceremos Brigade; CPUSA-controlled or influenced International Longshoremen’s and Warehousemen’s Union — ILWU; Local 1199 of the Drug and Hospital Workers; United Electrical, Radio, and Machine Workers; Amalgamated Meatcutters; Marxist organizations Puerto Rican Socialist Party, People’s Party, New American Movement, and Socialist Party.

[40] “American Dissent in Moscow,” The New York Review of Books, Volume 20, Number 20, December 13, 1973. nybooks.com/articles/9657.

[41] Thulani Davis, “Remembering Grace Paley (1922-2007),” Alternet.org, August 25, 2007. http://www.alternet.org/story/60693/; also Grace Paley 1922-2007: Acclaimed Poet and Writer Dies at 84, Democracy Now, August 24th, 2007 http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/24/1322211

[42] Much is made of CIA involvement in domestic affairs.

The CIA did assist the Washington Metropolitan Police Department during the 1969-1971 anti-Vietnam War demonstrations. It provided a radio receiver and several automobiles equipped with radios and manned by two Field Office Agents. See: CIA, FOIA, “CIA support to Washington metropolitan police department during anti-Vietnam War demonstrations 1969-1971 described,” reference: 1983-000131, 1.

[43] Ray Wannall, The Real J. Edgar Hoover: For the Record, Paducah: Turner Publishing Company, 2000,77.

[44] Daily World, March 21, 1972; FBI, SAC New York to Director, COLIFAM IS-New Left AIRTEL, March 21, 1972;

[45] FBI, Memo, “Travel of U.S. Citizens to Paris, France, sponsored by Clergy and Laymen Concerned About Vietnam, American Friends Service Committee, and Fellowship of Reconciliation, March 3-10, 1971,” March 23, 1971 File No. 100-11392 at FBI, FOIA, A, AFSC.

[46] Contemporary flyer announcing event in possession of author.

Who Was Ho Chi Minh? A Deceitful Mass Murderer.

Millions of words have been written about Ho Chi Minh.  He has been called the George Washington of Vietnam,1 a devoted nationalist who loved his country,2 a brilliant leader who fought for independence with a ragtag army of sandal-clad peasants and defeated the greatest power in the world.3

It all sounds very romantic, but it is also completely false.  Ho Chi Minh was a dedicated communist,4 a member of the inner circle of the Soviet Comintern and a protégé of Dmitry Manuilsky, the right hand man of both Lenin and Stalin.5  His supposedly ragtag army of peasants was trained by the Mao’s Red Chinese Army6 and armed with modern weapons by the Red Chinese and Russians.7

After all this time, why do we still argue about the Vietnam War?  About who Ho Chi Minh was?  As William Duiker wrote,8 “The question of Ho Chi Minh’s character and inner motivations lies at the heart of the debate in the United States over the morality of the conflict in Vietnam.”

As a young man, Nguyen Tat Thanh was a Vietnamese patriot from a patriotic family agitating for independence for their country.  His father refused positions with the government because he disagreed with their policies.  His brother and sister were both imprisoned by the French for supporting Phan Boi Chau’s revolutionary movement.9

Thanh seems to have been a follower of the non-violent Phan Chau Trinh.10  In 1911 he left Vietnam searching for a way to help his countrymen gain their independence.  For a while he lived and worked in France with Phan Chau Trinh.  Eventually they parted, as Ho became an increasingly more militant communist.

When he returned to Vietnam as Ho Chi Minh 30 years later, the patriot was no more.  In his place was a brutal murderer dedicated to spreading communism throughout Asia.  Before he and his followers were done, millions of people were dead in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.11

As the man responsible for the spread of communism in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, Ho Chi Minh is directly and indirectly responsible for the lives of 1.7 million Cambodians,12 2 million Vietnamese and possibly 230,000 in Laos.13  These are not war dead, but people murdered, starved to death and “reeducated” to death.  In 1995 Vietnam revealed that they lost 1.1 million military dead14 during the war.  As a percentage of their populations, Ho is responsible for as many deaths in Indochina as Mao Tse-tung was in China.

To grasp the enormity of the slaughter, one would have to execute more than 26 million Americans to equal the percentage of the populations slaughtered by Ho and his henchmen.  Documenting these deaths is outside the scope of this article.  I encourage readers to survey the literature themselves for the evidence.

Who was Ho Chi Minh?  Ho Chi Minh was a chameleon.  He was a master at appearing to be whatever his interlocutor of the moment was expecting or hoping for (or not expecting at all).  On the inside, where it counted, he never changed after his conversion to communism.  He was a devoted communist whose only goal was the worldwide victory of communism, especially in Indochina,15 no matter how many people he had to kill to achieve it.

Much of Ho Chi Minh’s life was an enigma until recently.16  His birthdate was unknown for many years after his death.  It was variously claimed to be 1890,17 1891,18 1892,19 189420 and 1895.21  His birth name was Nguyen Sinh Cong.22  He was named Nguyen Tat Thanh,23 following Vietnamese tradition, when he achieved adolescence.  He was the son of Nguyen Sinh Sac (Huy).24  He was born in a small village named Kim Lien in the district of Nam Dan, part of the province of Nghe-An, in southern North Vietnam, about half way between Hanoi and Hue.

Concerning the confusion surrounding the details of Ho’s life, Robert Turner wrote, in a footnote in Vietnamese Communism: Its Origins and Development:25

There is considerable confusion as to the date and place of Ho’s birth and even to his given names.  Two versions of the “official” biography prepared by the Committee for the Study of the History of the Viet Nam Workers Party in 1970 gave conflicting information on his native village.   A Vietnamese-language version in Nanh Dan (Hanoi), 17 May 1970, asserted that Ho was born in Kim Lien village “the native village of his maternal grandfather.” An English-language version which otherwise appears to be identical stated that Ho was born in Hoang Tru, the village native to his mother. DRV, Our President Ho Chi Minh (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House. 1970), p. 59.   A biography by Truong Chinh identified Kim Lien as a hamlet in Nam Lien village.  President Ho Chi Minh, Beloved Leader of the Vietnamese People (Hanoi: Foreign Languages Publishing House,  1966). p. 9.  David Halberstam asserts that “Ho came from the province of Nghe Thinh [sic] ….. Ho (New York: Random House. 1971). p. 17. Nghe Tinh is a region rather than a province: it consists of the provinces Nghe An and Ha Tinh and is well known for having produced many of Vietnam’s revolutionary figures.

Several writers assert that Ho’s first name was actually Nguyen Sinh Cung (or Coong) and that he was ten years old before he became Nguyen Tat Thanh. See Jean Lacouture. Ho Chi Minh: A Politcal Biography (New York: Random House. 19(8). p. 13: Marr. Vietnamese Anticolonialism, p. 153: and N. Khach Huyen. Vision Accompllished? The Enigma of Ho Chi Minh (New York: Collier Books. 1971). pp. 4-5. 

Even the year of Ho’s birth is the subject of some dispute. Both Ellen Hammer and Bernard Fall state that Ho Chi Minh was born in 1892. Ellen Hammer. The Struggle for Indochina 1940-1955 (Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. 1966, p. 75; Bernard B. Fall. The Viet-Minh Regime, Government and Administration in the Democratic Republic of Viet-Nam. rev. and enl. ed. (New York: Institute of Pacific Relations. 1956). p. 21, n. 2. In a later book Fall acknowledged that most Communist sources give 1890 as the year of Ho’s birth. The Two Viet-Nams. p. 83.

Ho used several pseudonyms throughout his life (possibly as many as 75),26 at least two of which he appropriated from true Vietnamese patriots, Nguyen Ai Quoc27 and Ho Chi Minh.  Researchers have identified 9 names that he used from official communist documents alone.

Ho has variously been known as Nguyen Sinh Cong, Nguyen Tat Thanh28 (often mistakenly identified as his birth name), Ahn Ba29 (used when he was a kitchen boy aboard ship), Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the Patriot, which he “stole” from Phan Van Truong30 31), Tran Van Tien,32 T. Lan,33 Lee Swei,34 Lin,35 Sung Man-cho and T. V. Wong,36 Ly Thuy and Vuong Son Nhi37 and finally Ho Chi Minh (which he “stole” from the Vietnamese patriot, Ho Hoc Lam38).  (Throughout this document I will use the name Ho, since it is the name most closely associated with him, except where other names make sense in the context.)

His words were often as fictitious as his names.  He lied about his place of birth.39  He lied about his date of birth.40  He lied about where he lived41 and what he did42 throughout his life.  He lied about who he was and what he believed.  He lied to create mystery, to hide the truth, to confuse authorities and most of all to further the cause of communism.

His life was so filled with deceit and deception that even now, more than 40 years after his death, historians can’t agree who he really was or about some of the details of his life.

As a child, Ho attended the Lycee Quoc Hoc in Hue (but never graduated).  Ngo Dinh Diem’s father, Ngo Dinh Kha, founded the school, and Ngo Dinh Diem (later to become his enemy), Pham Van Dong (later to become his premier) and Vo Nguyen Giap (later to become his military leader) also attended the school.

His father was friends with Pham Boi Chau and earned his pho bang degree the same year as Phan Chu Trinh.  They were the two most prominent patriots of his time, and young Ho was exposed to both of them through his father.

The mood in Vietnam at the time was one of rising anger, a growing desire to shed the yoke of French mastery and forge a new destiny.  Ho, as a young student, was an active part of it, participating in protests and working to stir up the people to oppose the French.  The French colonial police took notice and kept an eye on the young activist student.

In 1911, pursuing his desire to see the world and to escape the watchful eyes of the French colonial police, Ho boarded a French merchant ship,43 using the name Ba,44 and worked as a kitchen boy aboard the ship.  Some accounts claim he lived in London for a while, and even in America, but there is little solid evidence to corroborate residence in either place.45  (The British authorities, at the request of the French searched fruitlessly for Nguyen Tat Thanh in London for several years.)

What he did for the six years from 1911 to 1917 is not known with any certainty.  It’s entirely possible that he was working aboard vessels of Compagnie des Chargeurs Re’unis the entire time, visiting ports all over the world.  That would explain his familiarity with the United States and Britain as well as post cards stamped in those cities.  Both were ports of call, and the young Thanh was eager to disembark and explore the local cultures of each port where they docked.

In 1917, he settled in France and began attending socialist meetings.  He was an avid learner and soaked up everything he could about socialism and activism.  He was also a frequent visitor to the Sorbonne as well as the Bibliotheque Nationale where he is said to have been a “voracious reader”.46

He first showed up in police files in France in 1919, after he had moved in with Phan Chu Trinh and Phan Van Truong and took a job with Trinh retouching photographs.47  Their apartment was the center of activity for a small group of dedicated Vietnamese nationalists known as the Five Dragons48 who met frequently, had animated discussions about Vietnam and published articles advocating for Vietnamese independence.  One of the frequent attendees was also a police informant.

During the Treaty of Versailles conference, Trinh, Truong and Ho worked on a document to present to the conferees advocating for independence for Indochina.  Since the Surete´ was watching them closely, they published the document using a pseudonym, Nguyen Ai Quoc (Nguyen the patriot).  The document was conceived by Ho and written by Truong.

The name Nguyen Ai Quoc had appeared before in articles published in France,49 before Ho is known to have written anything and well before he was capable of writing in French.  The author was most likely Phan Van Truong50 according to French police notes51 since he was a lawyer and spoke and wrote French fluently.  Ho admitted in his biography that he couldn’t write French and depended upon Truong to write the Versailles document for him.52

After Versailles, rumors flew for three months about who Nguyen Ai Quoc might be.  The French investigated, trying to determine who the writer was.  In September, Ho “admitted” he was Quoc during a newspaper interview, stealing the pseudonym so he could appropriate to himself all the previous work done under that name.53  Thus he gained the credentials of a true Vietnamese nationalist that still fools people today.

Ho continued attending political meetings and learning about communism.  His change from a concerned nationalist to a committed communist appeared to happen rapidly.  In less than a year, he changed from begging for help for his Asian brothers54 to promoting Asia as the fulcrum for a worldwide communist revolution.

He wrote55 “…on the day when millions of oppressed Asians wake up, they will form a colossal force capable of overthrowing imperialism, and they will aid their brothers of the West in the task of total emancipation from capitalist exploitation.  Asia would play an active role in carrying out the world revolution.”

One year later he was on his way to Moscow, all expenses paid by the Comintern, to attend the Fourth Congress of the Comintern and enroll in intensive training.56  He had become a committed communist, preparing to bring revolution to Indochina and misery and death to many of his fellow countrymen.

In 1924, fully trained and eager to begin his revolution, Ho traveled to Hong Kong as an agent of the Comintern.  He was now a Comintern insider, dedicated to the worldwide overthrow of capitalism and prepared to do whatever the Comintern asked of him.

He met with Phan Boi Chau in Hong Kong and began working with him to build a revolutionary movement (later named Viet Nam Thanh Nien Cach Mang Dong Chi Hoi [Young Revolutionary Comrades Association]).57

Phan Boi Chau was a popular nationalist who had a large following (the Viet Nam Quang Phuc Ho) and extensive international contacts.58  He had united Vietnamese nationalists of all religions in the early twentieth century, arguing that the traditional anti-Catholicism was counterproductive and that all nationalists should unite in a common cause – to expel the French.59

Chau represented a serious threat to Ho’s dreams of a communist Indochina as well as a rich resource of followers that Ho might tap once Chau was out of the way.  Less than a year after meeting him, Ho facilitated Phan Boi Chau’s arrest by the French60 in exchange for money so that he could fill the vacuum left when Chau was arrested.61  (Although there is some controversy regarding who actually betrayed Chau, there is little question that Ho was involved.)62

He didn’t hesitate to exploit the resource as soon as Chau was arrested.  Those Phan Boi Chau followers who accepted communism were welcomed into Ho’s movement.  Those that did not were betrayed to the French by Ho’s henchman, Nguyen Cong Vien, for money.  Thus Phan Boi Chau’s movement was both destroyed and subsumed through deceit and treachery.63

Consistent with his previous behavior, he stole the name Ho Chi Minh from Ho Hoc Lam, whom he met in China in 1924 when meeting with Phan Boi Chau.64  The name would inure to him the benefits of the real Ho Chi Minh’s legacy.  For the many Vietnamese revolutionaries who came from the Nghe Tinh region, the name would evoke patriotism and nationalism.   His plan was taking shape.  He would use the name Ho when the time was right.

There was a much darker side to Ho than his deceit and treachery however.

In 1930 and 1931, his Indochinese Communist Party conducted an assassination program against competitors, landowners and officials, that was so sweeping it prompted a rebuke from the Comintern.65  It was a harbinger of things to come.  Before he died, the bodies would pile up in a steady stream as he eliminated anyone who appeared to be a threat or simply didn’t agree with him completely.

Through the 1930’s and 40’s, as the ICP worked to gain complete control of Vietnam, thousands of patriotic Vietnamese fell to the sword, were turned over to the French for money or fled to Japan and China to escape the terror.  When it suited Ho’s purpose, some would serve in his government; when it no longer did, they would die or flee the country.

Once he obtained power in North Vietnam, he began systematically eliminating his competition.  He formed alliances with nationalist groups and then proceeded to eliminate their leaders all the while touting his nationalist credentials.

Moderate reformers like Bui Quang Chieu were assassinated as a matter of course,66 to “purify” the Vietnamese people so communism could succeed.  Even personal friends, like Ta Thu Thau, were murdered in his zeal to eliminate all but the most fervent of followers67 and destroy anyone who might challenge his leadership.  Those who were fortunate either escaped to other countries or to South Vietnam, where their luck would run out two decades later.  The rest died.

Ho, when asked about the murder of Ta Thu Thau by a reporter, answered  matter-of-factly, “Anyone who does not follow the line determined by me will be smashed.”68

The last to go were the Viet Nam Quoc Dan Dang, a nationalist organization that had risen up against the French in 1930 in Yen-Bai.  (This was the same year Ho created the Indochina Communist Party in Hong Kong and 11 years before he returned to Vietnam after a 30-year absence.)  Ho eliminated them through military action against the areas they controlled as well as arrests of the leadership and confiscation of their assets.69  By the end of 1946 there was no one left to contest Ho for leadership of North Vietnam.

The peasants soon discovered his true nature as well in the brutal land reforms.  Ostensibly they were designed to benefit the peasants.  In reality, they pitted the peasants against the middle class and wealthy and even against each other and resulted in at least 50,000 murders and 450,000 “other” deaths70.

The land reform was so brutal that the peasants revolted.  To maintain order Ho called in an entire division and slaughtered Vietnamese indiscriminately until the revolt was put down.71

It’s no wonder then that many American leaders predicted a bloodbath should the communists take over South Vietnam.72  Nor is it surprising that apologists for the communists insisted that the predictions were wrong.73 74

A bloodbath was exactly what they got.  Research revealed between 84,000 and 240,000 political executions75 in South Vietnam after the communists took over.  Given the ratio of executions to deaths in North Vietnam’s land reform, it’s not unreasonable to postulate a minimum of 840,000 deaths and a maximum of 2.4 million deaths76 in the South.

Ho’s lack of conscience and end justifies the means philosophy was manifested in the international agreements that he made as well.  He never honored agreements that he signed considering them simply a temporary appeasement of his enemies while he strengthened his position.

He signed agreements with the French in 1946 and just eight months later he attacked them.  He signed peace agreements in Geneva in 1954 and 1962, both of which he abrogated before the ink was dry.  (Of course his government followed in his footsteps and abrogated the peace treaty they signed with the US in 1973.)

He infiltrated (and later invaded) South Vietnam in violation of the Geneva Accords in order to destroy the ability of the South Vietnamese government to build confidence and safety among its citizens.  He maintained the fiction that the NLF was an independent organization in order to “negotiate” with the U.S. and South Vietnam from a stronger position.  (Of course he never had any intention of abiding by any accords that were signed.)

He quoted the American Declaration of Independence and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen to trick many Americans and the international community into thinking he believed in republican politics.  He did the same to Vietnamese nationalists, lulling them into the false sense of security that was shattered as soon as he could exercise his extreme brutality against his “enemies”.

Referring to the betrayal of Phan Boi Chau, the British scholar P.J. Honey wrote77:

Some of Ho’s followers subsequently reported that he had given them the following reasons for his act of treachery:

(1) Chau was too old to be of any further use to the revolution.

(2) The upsurge of patriotism that would inevitably follow Chau’s trial and condemnation, would create a favorable revolutionary climate in Vietnam.

(3) The reward money would help to finance the training of new recruits

The first of these reasons is an obvious attempt to minimize Ho’s guilt, but the second and third reasons provide a revealing insight into the callous pragmatism that was to become the hallmark of Ho’s later political activities. The ruthlessness, the total disregard for human life and suffering, were always present in Ho’s actions, though he frequently disguised these characteristics behind gentle words and a benign exterior.

Hammond Rolph sums up the contradictions of Ho in one sentence.78

To the Vietnamese people he has presented himself as a figure of avuncular benignity, while his political life has been a model of ruthless and militant dedication to the fulfillment of the national and social goals he has set for the Vietnamese Revolution.”

One of Ho’s favorite slogans can still be seen on billboards all over Vietnam today.  “Nothing is more precious than independence and freedom.”79  Yet in Ho’s lifetime, he had the power to provide that independence and freedom to the people of North Vietnam and never did.

The people of South Vietnam had independence and freedom within the context of an ongoing war.  All the arguments about the corruption, the autocratic nature of the South Vietnamese government or suppression of some press outlets can’t obscure the fact that they had freedom of the press, open elections, opposition parties and open strident political criticism so long as it didn’t promote the Communist version of the truth.  North Vietnam had none of that.  When the North defeated the South, Ho’s mantra of independence and freedom, a reality in South Vietnam, was swept away in a brutal repression of all opposition to Communist rule.

The key to understanding Ho is presentation versus behavior.  A man can appear to be many things, but his actions define who he is.  Ho’s actions define him as a dedicated communist who never swerved from his goal.  Every move he made, every word he spoke was calculated to further that goal.  Millions died because of it.

In the pantheon of dictators who slaughtered millions of their own people, Ho stands proudly beside Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Hitler.  His record speaks for itself.

A pdf copy of this paper is available for download here.