© The Japan Times
May 10, 1998Ho Chi Minh was a
I feel obliged to comment on John T. Blackmore's letter "Pfaff wrong on
which was run with my letter "Pride in the name of truth," on May
Blackmore writes "…even the most inefficient, corrupt
government is better than communists who, while pretending to be nationalists,
actually believe in class warfare against their opponents."
the case of Pol Pot, Blackmore's assertion is probably true, but I believe it's
debatable as concerns the communist Ho Chi Minh, and in my letter I refer to Ho
Chi Minh as the leader of a nationalist
movement. I would like to point out the following:
• Ho Chi
Minh had sought support for Vietnamese independence from the international
community, but only found that support from communists.
1954, an agreement was drawn up for U.N.-sponsored, democratic elections to be
held in Vietnam. When it became clear Ho Chi Minh would prevail, Ngo Dinh
Diemh, the leader of the South, refused to participate. France and the U.S.
backed Diemh and elections were called off.
• Many former U.S.
policymakers have concluded it was a mistake to assume Ho Chi Minh was a
threat. Robert McNamara writes in his book "In Retrospect" that "We…totally
underestimated the nationalist aspect of Ho Chi Minh's
• Over 3 million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans
died in Vietnam between 1954 and 1975 as a result of U.S. policy in
Blackmore suggests U.S. troops should have been sent
to Cambodia to help stabilize the country in the 1970s. It is clear that
someone had to do something to stop Pol Pot, and in December 1978, Vietnam
invaded Cambodia. I was a 19 year old in the U.S. Navy at that time and there
were rumors we might intervene against Vietnam. However, I believe we would
have aggravated the situation at that point – only to find ourselves trapped in
another Indochinese quagmire.
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