Jefferson and Ho

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When it comes to Vietnam, I’m all for moving on, putting the past behind us, looking forward, letting bygones be bygones, but doing so requires honesty about the past, lest history be forgotten and the memory and honor tarnished of the 60,000 Americans who died in that war.

On his visit to Washington last week, President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam told President Obama the late revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, was inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. In an ad in the Washington Post, President Sang even claimed Jefferson’s vision of liberty was the same as Ho’s. Not exactly.

According to the U.S. State Department’s Vietnam 2012 Human Rights Report: “The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam. ... The most recent National Assembly elections, held in May 2011, were neither free nor fair. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. The most significant human rights problems in the country continued to be severe government restrictions on citizens’ political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens’ civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police.”

Does that sound Jeffersonian?

Alignment with the principles and men of America’s founding is an old tactic used by many dictators to dupe some Americans into the false belief that they are just like us — or can be made so.

Ronald Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, noted recently in The Wall Street Journal, that Ho Chi Minh was “a committed Marxist-Leninist, trained in the 1920s at Moscow’s famed Lenin School.”

During World War II, wrote Radosh, Ho courted President Franklin Roosevelt, appealing both to Roosevelt’s anti-French sentiments and to America’s Declaration of Independence and American-style liberty as he sought support for driving the French out of Indochina.

All dictators have found apologists in America, whether it is actor Sean Penn cozying up to the late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or the elites who supported Fidel Castro and the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.

All dictators have attempted to show they have a rational side. The late Soviet dictator Yuri Andropov was said to enjoy Scotch and American jazz. Hitler’s propagandists showed him with little girls, who were of the same age as Jewish girls he had ordered killed. The Fascist Italian dictator Benito Mussolini supposedly made the trains run on time. Stalin’s gulags were so good, claimed American journalist Anna Louise Strong, people applied for admission. Strong, who never met a communist she didn’t like, also praised China’s Mao Zedong.

It’s one thing for Vietnamese leaders to promote the fiction that Jefferson was a role model for Ho Chi Minh, but quite another for President Obama to spread this propaganda. I heard the same preposterous assertion from a Vietnamese government official when I visited Hanoi last December.

Rep. Sam Johnson (R-Texas), who spent seven years as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton, isn’t buying it. Johnson said in a statement issued by his office: “Sadly, when it comes to individual liberty, the president doesn’t have a clue. What an insult to the POWs brutally tortured at the merciless hands — and rifle butts — of our captors. This is a slap in the face to those who served — and especially those who paid the ultimate price for freedom during that dark time in history. Let me tell you, there was nothing ‘free’ about my seven years in captivity in Hanoi — more than half of that time in solitary confinement. As a fellow POW etched on a prison cell wall, ‘Freedom has a taste to those who fight and almost die that the protected will never know.’“

Who sounds more Jeffersonian?

[Cal Thomas is America’s most widely syndicated op-ed columnist, appearing in more than 600 national newspapers. He is the author of more than 10 books and is a FOX News political contributor since 1997. Email Cal Thomas at tmseditors@tribune.com.] © 2013 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

stranger than f...
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Cal Thomas – How Disingenuous!

Take a moment to read the text of the addresses delivered by Presidents’ Obama and Truong Tan Sang at

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2013/07/25/remarks-president-...

Obama was chiding the Viet Nam President with his allusion to Ho’s admiration for Jefferson while denying human rights. The important part of the speech was the candid discussion of “the challenges that all of us face when it comes to issues of human rights, and we emphasized how the United States continues to believe that all of us have to respect issues like freedom of expression, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly. And we had a very candid conversation about both the progress that Vietnam is making and the challenges that remain.”

It’s called DIPLOMACY Cal. Suggesting that Obama agreed with Ho Chi Minh is completely disingenuous.

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STF - Chiding?

Sorry I missed the part where he is chiding President Truong Tan Sang. Can you point this out in the text?

"At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman. And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperation with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it's 67 years later, it's good that we're still making progress."

Where exactly is he "chiding" President Truong?

Here's what he should have said.

"While we are all encouraged with Vietnam's embrace of capitalism, we cannot stress enough that capitalism works be best when people are free. We continue to encourage the government of Vietnam to open its political process to include as many views and possible. Hold free and open elections that include all the minorities within your borders. We also encourage the current government to begin treating those families that served American interests during the war with fairness and respect. Until there are free and open elections that welcome participation by all citizens of Vietnam, we will withhold participation in join economic efforts sponsored by our government. Oh, and actions speaks loads about how closely Ho believed in Mr. Jefferson's philosophy. Our actions toward your repressive government will follow that philosophy. We will always welcome your freely elected president, even if it's you."

Cyclist
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Vietnamese elections

I often wonder what would been the outcome if those free elections that were called for in the 1954 Geneva Conference had actually occurred.

Davids mom
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Remember free elections

in Cuba?

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Davids mom - Cuban Elections

I would suspect that those that embrace that single-party republic would say that they are free.

Davids mom
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Cuba

A sad commentary on communism and 'freedom'.

PTC Observer
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Cyclist - Likely

Likely if they were actually free elections Ho would have won, and we wouldn't have lost our blood and treasure there. However, in those days both sides of the DMZ were corrupt and free elections would have been unlikely.

Sadly, we will never know and it is as unlikely to happen today as it was in 1955.

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PTC O - Election Outcome

Ho victory.....That seems to be the prevailing thought.

I blame the policies of the French government after the war. Slogans like "Yesterday Strasbourg, tomorrow Saigon" says it all.

BTW, hello from McAllen, Tx.

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When it comes to Cal Thomas

If I substitute some words from his opening statement - I agree!! Diplomacy USUALLY precedes peace and throughout the world we (all citizens of the world) are still working on human rights as described by Jefferson (but not practiced)

Quote:

When it comes to slavery, I’m all for moving on, putting the past behind us, looking forward, letting bygones be bygones, but doing so requires honesty about the past, lest history be forgotten and the memory and honor of the descendants of that period in our history will be tarnished .

Russia, Cuba, China, and many other countries on our globe, including our own are working to LIVE the words of Jefferson. We need the cooperation of trade agreements, etc. to continue to thrive - and diplomacy is a way of handling this. No American agrees with the autrocity of Ho Chi Minh or dishonors the sacrifice of our citizens in Viet Nam today! Maybe Mr. Thomas should talk with Sen. McCain.

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