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The New Vietnam Myths ^ | August 1, 2006 | Michael Benge

Posted on 08/02/2006 6:30:15 PM PDT by Interesting Times

“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” -- Joseph Goebbels

Of the many myths about the Vietnam War, the most prevalent is that United States lost the war. In fact, militarily, the US never lost the war. Rather, our politicians surrendered to the North Vietnamese communists. Fast forward to the present day, and once again our politicians are capitulating to the Vietnamese communists, and creating another host of myths as a smokescreen in an attempt to cover up that repressive regime's trail of broken promises.

Hanoi’s current foreign policy is based on the same premise as Goebbels’ statement above, and it is evident that the State Department, the Bush administration and Congress again have bought the communists’ lies, for they are about to reward Hanoi with Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR) and an endorsement into the World Trade Organization.

At the White House meeting with President Bush on June 21, 2005, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai promised a marked improvement in religious freedom and human rights in Vietnam. Since then, religious repression and human rights abuses have not abated, especially against the Protestant Montagnard, Hmong and other ethnic and religious minorities.

Hanoi has broken every agreement that it has ever made with the U.S., and the communists know U.S. preconditions are fungible if a façade of cosmetic changes is created that looks like progress.

For years, the US has insisted that Hanoi needs to institute major reforms before being awarded PNTR and membership into the WTO, including: adherence to the rule of law, judicial and contractual reforms, respect for intellectual property rights, tackling rampant graft and the culture of bribes, and creating transparency in trade and other dealings. Now U.S. politicians are stating that they are confident that Vietnam will institute these changes once they embrace the WTO global rules-based trading system.

The Vietnamese government subsidizes the growing of Vietnamese catfish for export to the US and elsewhere. For years, the WTO has been negotiating with the U.S., Europe and other trading partners to cut government assistance to farmers, and open their markets to competition; however, negotiations have collapsed and suspended indefinitely. Vietnam’s problem isn’t the lack of laws, but it lacks the will to change or enforce existing laws because of high-level corruption.

U.S. corporations in the US-ASEAN Business Council and US-Vietnam Trade Council looking for lucrative contracts and cheap labor are on full-court-press with their lobbyists and wining and dining of politicians for approval of PNTR and WTO. This list includes Speaker of the House Dennis Haskert, and Senators John McCain, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel, who are major endorsees of PNTR, and one can rest assured that they will be rewarded with ample campaign contributions for their help.

In Vietnam, facades of unions have been set up at many western-financed factories; however, the communist party tightly asserts total control and workers are not allowed to strike. The party recently allowed wages at factories to be increased by 50%, from US $30 to $45 per month; however, many workers are required to work 10 hours a day and 6 days a week. From that wage they have to pay the “company store” for sleeping quarters and for the purchase of a little food and other necessities, which according to women workers, “doesn’t even leave enough to buy milk for their babies.”

“In order to authorize PNTR, the U.S. Trade Relations office said it would be necessary for Congress to terminate application to Vietnam of the Jackson-Vanik amendment to the Trade Act of 1974. The Jackson-Vanik provision denies normal trade relations to certain countries with non-market economies and restrictions on emigration rights.” Yet Vietnam continues to suppress emigration rights.

Diplomacy has failed with China, as it will with Vietnam. Six years ago there was the fight against granting PNTR to Communist China, and proponents sugarcoated it by promising that "trade will bring freedom." Trade has not brought freedom to the Chinese; instead, human rights abuses have escalated, and our trade deficit has shot up from $86 billion to $202 billion.

Vietnam has adopted China's strategy of accepting capitalism while maintaining total control of over its population. The U.S. ran a $5.4 billion trade deficit with Vietnam last year. According to Auggie Tantillo, executive director of the American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition, "This deal is a disaster for U.S. manufacturing, and the U.S. textile industry in particular."

The New Myths

Restrictions on emigration have abated: In spite of claims by some, Vietnam’s restrictions on emigration have not abated and enormous bribes are still demanded for exit visas and passports, and related harassment and human rights abuses continue. Under the threat of death, the Police Chief of Ea Xier Village in Kontum Province repeatedly raped a Montagnard woman as the price she had to pay for an exit visa so that she and her family could join their husband in the U.S. A Montagnard refugee from Darlac Province who has been trying to get his three children out of Vietnam received a call from a Vietnamese man who said he was connected with the U.S. Consulate in Ho Chi Minh City and for $1,000 each, paid through a travel agency in North Carolina, he would guarantee they would be allowed to leave Vietnam.

Religious Freedom has improved: Freedom House has obtained documentation on Hanoi's intention to purge religion from society. Vietnamese officials continue to force Montagnard and Hmong Christians to sign pledges renouncing their religion. Those that refuse are beaten and sometimes killed. Christian gatherings and celebrations continue to be banned in many areas. Although Vietnamese officials claim to have given more freedom to house churches, the fact is that the communist regime has imposed even more restrictions. Families can now legally pray in their own homes; however, they cannot pray in groups outside their homes, or even invite family members living outside their home in to pray with them. Pictures of Ho Chi Minh are required to be hung in churches as the true savior of the Vietnamese people.

Human Rights have improved: Although Hanoi has released a small number of high profile political and religious prisoners from jail, they remain under house arrest. There are still over 350 Montagnards languishing in prison, mainly for peaceful protests against religious persecution and human rights abuses. The communist prisons have revolving doors, and the regime persists in criminalizing peaceful dissent, unsanctioned religious activity and efforts to seek sanctuary in Cambodia, and violators are charged with either violating Vietnam’s national unity policies or its national security by organizing illegal migration and given sentences up to 17 years in prison.

In April of 2006, two young Montagnards, Y-No Buonkrong and Y-Hlu Adrong from Buon Cuor Knia, Darlak Province were arrested and severely beaten. Y-No was charged with illegally enrolling in school for computer Internet classes and attempting to contact his relatives in the U.S.; however, his “real crime” was that his brother-in-law had testified before Congressman Chris Smith’s committee on religious persecution in June 2005. Y-Hlu’s “real crime” was he reported Vietnamese officials for stealing money from a housing fund. He suffered compound fractures of both legs from the beatings and because he was not given medical treatment, he is not expected to be able to walk again. Far from isolated incidents, abuses such as these are “par for the course.”

Freedom of movement has improved: The Central Highlands remain off limits to the Western press and to U.S. and other diplomats unless taken on strictly controlled tours by Vietnamese security personnel. According to a Rhade woman who was recently interviewed by Human Rights Watch, “When foreign officials go to Dak Lak province, canh sat co dong (riot police) are sent with guns and electric batons to the village. They worry we will demonstrate. They declare a holiday, block the road to the city, and prohibit us from leaving the village.”

Vietnam is fully cooperating in the accounting of the POW/MIAs: Hanoi advocates Senators John McCain, John Kerry and Chuck Hagel are among those perpetrating this myth, and all three are spearheading PNTR for Vietnam. Of the more than 275 cases of Americans known to have been in the hands of the Vietnamese communists but not released, only a handful of their remains have been returned. Furthermore, Hanoi will not let the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) into the Central Highlands to search for the MIAs because of the “purported unrest.” The only reason for unrest would be due to the communists’ repression of the Montagnards.

The U.S. needs Vietnam as a buffer against China: Whoever professes this myth needs to take remedial math: i.e., Vietnam has an estimated population of 78 million while China has over a billion people.

Under new management: The choice of Nguyen Tan Dung, Vietnam's youngest post-war premier, is being touted by the U.S. diplomatic and business community as a sign of change because of his promises to fight mismanagement and corruption and hasten economic reform. However, the 56-year-old political conservative has solid communist party credentials with the regime's elders and is a protégé of former hardliner president Le Duc Anh, and nothing more than old wine in a new bottle.

According to Vietnam expert Carl Thayer of the Australian Defense Force Academy, “He has a firm network in the military, in security, in southern province networks and within the party apparatus", and until recently, he could only speak in set propaganda language. He was appointed as deputy public security minister in 1994 three years later before joining the elite politburo in 1996 as its youngest-ever member. Since 2000 he has been in charge of maintaining security in the troubled Central Highlands where military and security forces have brutally crushed protests over religious freedom, land disputes and other human rights abuses, and thousands have been killed, tortured and jailed as a result.

In a recent Washinton Times article, titled “Trade with Vietnam: Economic ties in the interest of the U.S.”, former deputy secretary of state Richard Armitage and former deputy assistant of secretary of state for East Asia Randy Schriver, now partners of Armitage International, wrote that the U.S. should fast-track the granting of Permanent Normal Trade Relations to Vietnam to “provide concrete evidence that we are committed to putting U.S.-Vietnam divisions behind us.” What is sorely evident, however, is that the Vietnamese communists are not committed to putting U.S.-Vietnam divisions behind them.

Michael Benge spent 11 years in Viet Nam, over five years as a Prisoner of War—1968-73. Mike is a student of South East Asian politics, is very active in advocating for human rights, religious freedom, and a full and accurate accounting for our POW/MIAs, and has written extensively on these subjects.

TOPICS: Editorial; Foreign Affairs; Government
KEYWORDS: armitage; hanoi; mikebenge; militaryhistory; myth; pow; repression; vietnam; vietnamwar; wto
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Excellent overview of the current state of affairs in communist Vietnam, and the effort to bring Vietnam into the WTO.
1 posted on 08/02/2006 6:30:17 PM PDT by Interesting Times
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To: Howlin; eddie willers; cajungirl; wirestripper; Southflanknorthpawsis; Peach; prairiebreeze; ...

Ping to the thoughts of Mike Benge, which are always worth reading...

2 posted on 08/02/2006 6:31:19 PM PDT by Interesting Times (ABCNNBCBS -- yesterday's news.)
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To: Interesting Times
Rather, our politicians surrendered to the North Vietnamese communists

This needs to be repeated often and loudly.

3 posted on 08/02/2006 6:32:12 PM PDT by sionnsar (†† | Iran Azadi | Appeasement=Capitulation)
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To: Interesting Times

The nicest family in town that I see every 3 weeks are from South Vietnam; they love America so much but miss some family left behind and we talk about the politics and history of Vietnam for nearly an hour every few weeks.

The book Stolen Valor went a long ways to outlining some of the myths surrounding our Vietnam vets.

4 posted on 08/02/2006 6:33:35 PM PDT by Peach (Prayers for Israel and all who love her.)
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To: Interesting Times

Thanks for the ping. I'm glad to see one writer has the juevos to print the truth on this subject. 'Course why should Vietnam be needed to counter China? After all China has been changed by fifteen years of brilliant trade policy.

The whole thing makes me sick.

We'll just strengthen our enemies until they can walk right into our nation and take posession.

5 posted on 08/02/2006 6:41:11 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (Bring your press credentials to Qana, for the world's most convincing terrorist street theater.)
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To: Interesting Times

Marine Corps Viet Nam combat veteran Bump!

Semper Fi,
"C" 1/5 1st Mar. Div. 1969-1970

6 posted on 08/02/2006 6:43:36 PM PDT by kellynla (Freedom of speech makes it easier to spot the idiots! Semper Fi!)
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To: Interesting Times

Thanks for posting this excellent report. Yes, indeed, anything by Mike Benge is always worth reading...

7 posted on 08/02/2006 6:56:28 PM PDT by zot (GWB -- the most slandered man of this decade)
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To: DoughtyOne
Go visit for a month. Do not take the sponsored tours. Travel and talk and listen. You will have no restrictions other than photographing military. If you carry signs complaining about the system you will be interfered with but you can talk to Thuy or Huong or Diem on the street or in a restaurant and you will be surprised at what you hear and at what you can say. And it is better now than it was last year and it was better last year than it was 2 years ago. Most of the remaining political and social(also political, of course) were taken from the Catholics last year. The people I correspond with all attribute that to American pressure.The Montagnards are analogous to the Indians in our own country circa 1890-1900. It is a bad situation and will not be improved without American pressure which is not there if there is no economic connection. The rulers will NOT just one Thursday morning at 10:00 o'clock dissolve the government and call for free elections. They will change gradually so as not to lose their jobs.

And Viet Nam is, indeed, a Southern buffer against China. China will not go lightly into Viet Nam. China understands that the Vietnamese army is not a piece of cake waiting to crumble into the Chinese maw. It did not beat the Americans- our Left did that- but it made short work of the Chinese proxies in Cambodia and manhandled the CHINESE army when the PLA crossed the border to punish Viet Nam for waxing the Khmer Rouge.

8 posted on 08/02/2006 7:03:10 PM PDT by ThanhPhero (di hanh huong den La Vang)
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To: Interesting Times
A leopard which has never changed its spots.

A repressive, dictatorial, Communist country for the past 50 years and it does not appear it is going to change any time soon--especially when countries like us (with the complicit and tacit support of demented appeasers and opportunists like McCain and Kerry) are willing to give them a pass and refuse to hold their feet to the fire for reform in order to receive any preferential trade or recognition.

The people are/were great. Unfortunately, Vietnam is one of the few Communist countries left in the world and it should not be supported in any way shape or form, unless or until they are serious about reform.

Until they are willing to give an honest and complete accounting of our MIA, they can go pound sand.

Military Intelligence Support Group
Jan 66 - July 67

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To: ThanhPhero

Thanks for the comments voicing and alternate view. I appreciate that.

10 posted on 08/02/2006 7:06:03 PM PDT by DoughtyOne (Bring your press credentials to Qana, for the world's most convincing terrorist street theater.)
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To: siddude; Toidylop

I read your comments on People of Vietnam Seek More Freedom, Rights and would appreciate any thoughts you might have regarding this article.


11 posted on 08/02/2006 7:14:07 PM PDT by Eagle9
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To: Interesting Times; DoughtyOne; Howlin; Peach; seasoned traditionalist; eddie willers; cajungirl; ...

Of the many myths about the Vietnam War, the most prevalent is that United States lost the war. In fact, militarily, the US never lost the war. Rather, our politicians surrendered to the North Vietnamese communists.....

Today it is Dems like Murtha who would have the US 'cut & run' and surrender to the terrorists!

That's a parallel I see between Vietman & Iraq!

We need to 'Boot Murtha' and others like him who are underminding the War on Terror.

Look here: Press Conf. Aug 3:
Nat'l Anti-Murtha Vets Rally, October in Johnstown,PA
- John O'Neill main speaker

12 posted on 08/02/2006 7:29:42 PM PDT by JulieRNR21 (Freedom isn't Free.........Support Our Troops......Thank a Veteran Today)
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To: Interesting Times

For an honest look backward (as a counterweight to this current article)
here's a link to Michael Medved's recording of
"Three Big Lies About the Vietnam War"

The product should have a warning label: "Do not play in public school classrooms
or in lecture halls of universities or colleges, as head of teacher/professsor
might explode."

13 posted on 08/02/2006 7:38:37 PM PDT by VOA
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To: Interesting Times

Me want em cheap hard drive ... must.... build.... plant .... in Vietnam.... sort of funny if it was not so tragic.

14 posted on 08/02/2006 7:39:20 PM PDT by GOP_1900AD (Stomping on "PC," destroying the Left, and smoking out faux "conservatives" - Take Back The GOP!)
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To: Interesting Times

Thanks I.T., good article!

15 posted on 08/02/2006 7:44:50 PM PDT by potlatch (Does a clean house indicate that there is a broken computer in it?)
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To: Interesting Times

And by the way, boys and girls, let's not EVER, EVER forget the fact that in the Vietnamese Communist War Remnants Museum (formerly known as the "War Crimes Museum") in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), a photograph of John Kerry hangs in a room dedicated to the anti-war activists who helped the Vietnamese Communists win the Vietnam War. The photograph shows Senator Kerry being greeted by the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Comrade Do Muoi.

16 posted on 08/02/2006 7:53:59 PM PDT by NurdlyPeon (Wearing My 'Jammies Proudly)
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To: Peach

I am glad you know nice vietnamese. I just moved out of a mobile home park that Vietnamese changed into a Cambodian refugee camp. I saw many signs that they were involved in the sex trade business. At a minimum, it was an underground railroad of southeast Asians escaping commumnism.

17 posted on 08/02/2006 8:04:31 PM PDT by ClaireSolt (.)
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To: kellynla
our politicians surrendered to the North Vietnamese communists

Kelly, weren't we winning when we left?

18 posted on 08/02/2006 8:11:48 PM PDT by chesty_puller (USMC 70-73 3MAF VN 70-71)
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To: Interesting Times

"Now U.S. politicians are stating that they are confident that Vietnam will institute these changes once they embrace the WTO global rules-based trading system."

VN will institute those changes in the deranged dreams of these Dimocrat infidels.

19 posted on 08/02/2006 8:34:01 PM PDT by Rembrandt (We would have won Viet Nam w/o Dim interference.)
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To: Eagle9; John Carey
The article's myths are spot on but the reality is even worse. The problem dealing with the VN communists is that they NEVER admitted any oppression and human right abuse as their party's doctrine. However, they mechanically labeled any dissidents (as someone demands basic human right and freedom of speech, religion and others...) as the enemy of the state. All were and continually are subjected to arrestment and "pschycologically" treatment (as several ex-peole army officers like General Tran Do). When they can't fix someone pschychologically , they arranged the subject to disappear unnoticed as the case of several Buddhist monks in Thai Binh province and the Montagnard in the central highland. These are some known cases monitored by the Vietnam Human Rights Network.

VN communist cadres and their security service have outright sanctioned the enslavement of its own people for sex profit (John Carey had written several articles on this). For all of the corruption and the ugliness of human right abuse, the VN communist party has hidden very well from western attention. Other words, American had been and are duped repeatedly. I'm very surprised to see a lot of people otherwise value freedom but somehow is willing to look the other way to let the communists oppress the people of VN.

20 posted on 08/02/2006 8:59:14 PM PDT by Toidylop
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