Remarksat the Memorial Day Commemoration

National Cemetery of the Pacific(Punchbowl), Honolulu, Hawaii

May 27, 2012

By LieutenantColonel Julian Tran, U.S.Army


Distinguishguests; veterans of the Vietnam War; Soldiers; Sailors, Marines; Airmen; CoastGuard; and my fellow Americans.

Ladies andGentlemen:

It is a greathonor for me to be here today to express my deepest gratitude to the warriorswho had fought for the freedom of South Vietnam.

First of all,I would like to thank the organizer of this event, particularly, Mrs. Nina andRetired Colonel Castagnetti who give me theopportunity to stand in front of you this afternoon.

Ladies andGentlemen,

As a soldier,I strongly believe that “once a Soldier, you will always be aSoldier”; therefore, to me, you are not a veteran, but you are, andalways will be, a Soldier until the day you die.  And I, if given theopportunity, would not hesitate to go to battle with you, side-by-side, anyday, anywhere, and anytime.  Like you,I’ve deployed and fought in the faraway lands to preserve our way of lifeand the freedom that we, Americans, all enjoy every day.

The differentbetween your generation and my generation is that, at least my generation, to acertain extent, has received some appreciations from the people that we metonce we returned home from war.  I am the lucky one; many of today’s servicemen and women are the luckyones.  But for the Soldiers who fought during the Vietnam War –And many of you are here today – they returning home to face thehostility and rejection from a society that has forgotten the value of freedomand what it meant to be an American.  Despite under appreciated andbias media propaganda, you had fought well and had never lost a single battlewhen you were there, from the La Rang Valley, , Hamburger Hill, and ,just to name a few.

You and I, weare Soldiers, and as Soldier we followed orders and executed our missionsregardless of the circumstances.  We gave 110% – and many gave it all- and are lying here today in this holy ground.

As for me, America hasgiven me the opportunity, not only to live free again, but also to serve thegreatest Armed Forces on this planet earth, and to defend our freedom and wayof life.  And I consider this is the greatest honor of my lifetime.  Yes,Americais not a perfect country, but I can attest to you that, after having been tomore than 35 countries, this country is still the best country on thisplanet.  Those who complain about America; say bad things aboutAmerica; if you can find a better place on earth to live, please let me know, Iwill buy you a one-way ticket, destination of your choice, and don’tyou ever come back.  Because I am so proud to be an American and Isure don’t want to live with you.

Though I wasa little boy during the Vietnam War, but I had a great sense of appreciation ofthe Freedom that we enjoyed in South Vietnam.  My brother and twouncles who were officers in the South Vietnamese Army – or ARVN, foughtand died to preserve our freedom as well.  The Freedom that SouthVietnamese people enjoyed until 1975 couldn’t have taken place withoutthe sacrifice of hundreds of thousands of ARVN soldiers who fought alongsidethe American Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen and Coast Guards which who theyare now called Vietnam War Veterans.

Additionally,my sincere appreciation also goes to families of more than 58,000 names ofthose warriors are now on the VIETNAM WALL in Washington D.C. WITHOUT YOU, theVietnam Veterans, WE, the people of South Vietnam couldn’t have enjoyed aperiod of prosperity and appreciated the value of FREEDOM.  Thoughthe period of “Freedom” was short live, we had learned and realizedwhat it meant to be free.  And for that, I want to say THANK YOU fromthe bottom of my heart for giving us those days of freedom.

Afterthe Vietnam War, hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese people escaped from Vietnam; untoldnumber of them died at seas or in the jungles of Laos and Cambodia on their journey ofseeking freedom.   Those people, as you have known them as“boat people” or, as for me, the “land people” becauseI escaped from Vietnamthru Cambodia.  Thoserefugees had chosen to “live free or die” because you have giventhem the TASTE of FREEDOM.

GeneralDouglas MacArthur said “old Soldiers never die; they just fadeaway.” For the Veterans of the VIETNAM WAR, I want to say that “youmay die of old age, but you will never fade away” because in the heartand mind of millions of Vietnamese people and communities around the world, youwill live on forever.  Whenever I see a Vietnam War Veteran, Ialways say Thank you to him, and I would ask everyone to do the same because hehad given so much and had done so much for South Vietnam and for America.

I also wouldask every American to say a word of THANK YOU to every Soldier past andpresent; because without them, Americawill not be where we are today; American will not have the freedom that we havetoday; and Americawill not be the greatest country on this planet earth.  To all theveterans and Soldiers here today, I salute you.



Administrator’s note

It has been more years since the last U.S. troops left the Republicof  Viet Nam (RVN) in compliance with the signed Paris Peace Accords. And it’s has been 37 years and one month since the RVN fell into thehands of the North Vietnamese Communists (NVC), a by-product of this doomed agreement.

The fall of the RVN was a result of various global anddomestic political factors.  Addinginsult to injury, four star North Vietnamese People’s Army General Tien Dung, a textile worker in Ha Noi, North Viet Nam who joined the communistparty in 1945 and was promoted by Ho Chi Minh to two star general in 1948 withoutany officer or military training, shamelessly trumpeted thisevent as a “Big Spring Victory” in his 1976 bookpublished in Ha Noi.Here, theCommunist General used this publication as a springboard to arrogantly andfalsely boast;“A yearhas passed since the general attack and uprising in the Spring of 1975 thatachieved complete victory, totally defeated the aggression war and theneo-colonial rule of the American imperialist and liberated the entire South Viet ”  Shortly after the Communistvictory, “liberated Vietnamese” in the millions fledthe South in terror to avoid livingwith their new Northern masters; filthy, cruel oppressors bent on opportunisticrevenge. And following the defeat of the American imperialists, theso-called “victors/liberators” promptly led the country into abject poverty and widespreadstarvation. Unable to withstand the dying economy, corrupt  leaders representing this group of”victorious misfits” hypocritically begged American Imperialists forhelp.  Had America lifted the embargo in1994, Viet Namwould notbe what it is today. In all likelihood, instead of becoming billionaires throughblatant corruption, the lecherous idiots in the politburo would betreasonous Communists on trial for the ruination of their country! 

On Memorial Day 2012, I write “The Truth of theso-called “ Big Spring Victory” to respectfully paytribute to my brothers-in-arms, all those who had served in Viet Nam tohelp us defend Freedom and Democracy, and also to set the record straight. Here are the facts!


The Truthof the so-called “Big SpringVictory”

Hoi B. Tran

In July 1976, thePeople’s Army Publisher compiled all stories that the communist generalVan Tien Dung had recounted to the People’s newspaper and published abook titled Big Spring Victory.  The book’s veracity is quickly establishedin the introduction.  Fraught throughout the book with typical communistpropaganda,the publisher ignominiously wrote;  “Thebook Big Spring Victory was published to help us understand clearly the seriousleadership, the lucidity, the determination, the flair of the Party’sCentral Politburo and the Party’s Military Central Committee, policy andexcellent art of war of our Party, at the same time encouraging our militaryand our people to bring into play the heroic tradition, enhance the pride, thebelief, go forward to achieve many more new victories for the cause ofdefending and building socialism for the whole nation.”  Andright from the preface, Dung falselyboasted: “A year has passed since the general attack anduprising in the Spring of 1975 that achieved completevictory, totally defeated the aggression war and the neo-colonial rule of theAmerican imperialist and liberated the entire South Viet Nam.”  Concludinghis distorted preface, Dung asserted;  “Thisbook is also timely aimed at rejecting all wrongful theories, reactionaries bythose who distort history, those defeated invaders and the traitors whofabricate story to defend their miserable failure and belittle the victory ofour people.”

As history bears witness,the publisher and Dung foolishly thought that this book full of valuelesspropagandistic verbiage would be accepted as truth with the passage of time. Noteven 36 years is enough time to make General Dung’s gibberish or thecommunist party’s ranting seem even remotely credible. The truth about the struggle between theNationalist and the Communists from 1954 to 1975 would no more be hidden than the injustices the Communist Party in Ha Noiattempted to hide in their blatant violation of the Paris Agreement andsubsequent barbarous invasion of the Republic of Viet Nam (RVN) afterdeceivingly signing the Agreement in Paris on January 27th,1973.
Albeit desperately seeking to avoid culpability, the Communists used the ruse of the necessity of  forcibly invading the RVNunder the cover of fighting the American imperialist to “liberate theSouth.”   After the war ended, Viet Nam became terriblydestitute.  The economy entered a dire situation that Marxism –Leninism and the peak intelligence of the communist party in North Viet Namcould not resolve.  The Nationalist Vietnamese who evacuated to foreigncountries to avoid communism had to send monies and gifts home to help theirrelatives and friends who were left behind.  People from the South to theNorth of Viet Nam realized clearly that the United States of America (U.S.) hadnever invaded South Viet Namto impose a neo-colonial rule as propagated by the party.  And people allwished the Americans wouldreturn to Viet Namso their lives could be better.  Withoutthe financial help of expatriate Nationalist Vietnamese living abroad and theU.S. not lifting the 1994 embargo thus prompting domestic investing,  itwould be a foregone conclusion the communist regime could stave off terrible poverty and starvation inViet Nam.  The former slogan of the Party “Fight theAmerican to save our country” has clearly surfaced as a dirty ruseused for propaganda.  Because the Party and the peopleof South and North Viet Namhave been begging the Americans to return “To Save the Country”.

While writing this essay,some of my Vietnamese brothers-in-arms suggested that we should forget thepast.  With fanatical nationalistic ideology they like to just leave thepast conflict ambiguously so that in the future, the Vietnamese people would befamous as history would record that Viet Nam had defeated the Frenchand destroyed the American Imperialists. I respect the fantasy idea of these friends; however, I could not be in cahootswith the North Vietnamese communist leaders to distort history.  BeingVietnamese I am very proud about history in regards to our ancestorsfighting foreign aggression.  I used to proudly recount to my Americanco-workers glorious Vietnamesemilitary victories our forefathers achievedin successfully defeating the brutal aggressors from the North. Conquerors like Toghan, Kublai Khan and many more had suffered defeat byfamous, brilliant Vietnamese generals. I am proud of my ancestors for they hadtruly fought foreign invasions with their genuine patriotism and with their owntactics, strategy and logistics.  However, I cannot be proud about theNorth Vietnamese communist leaders whodo no other than distort and lie!!!

One truthful fact thathistory cannot deny is the fact that had the Japanese notoverthrown the French on March 9, 1945, VietMinh (abbreviated name of the Vietnamese communist in the forties) would not have driven the French outof Viet Nam. But the leaders of the Viet Minh deceitfully claimed that it was themselves that restored independencefor the country.  Adding to this chicanery, the Communists manipulatedtheir 1954 victory at Dien Bien Phu todupe the people as if they single-handedly defeated the French.  Inreality,Viet Minhwere assisted by myriads of Chinese communist advisors and massive logisticalsupplies despite intentionally concealing this.  With the advice from twoChinese communist generals Wei Guo-qing and Li Cheng-hu, Vo Nguyen Giaplaunched “human wave tacticsattack Dien Bien Phu.  Yet only in thefirst three days, from the 13 to the 16 of March, General Giap grilled9000 of his soldiers among them 2000 killed (1). Includingthe so-called Big Spring Victory that general Dung arrogantly boasted could notbe viewed as a glorious victory.  Truthfully it was only a natural outcomewhen the U.S.,ally of the Republic of Viet Nam, alteredtheir foreign policy.

Interms of America’sdisengagement from the war, enduring  further casualties was no longer tolerable to a now two decade long war weary public.  With Detente and Sino American rapprochement as an end game inhuge corporate profits, the former goals of Communist destruction in Viet Nam becameirrelevant. The U.S. cutmilitary aid to the RVN while the North Vietnamese communists received maximumlogistic supplies from Red China and the Soviet Unionto conquer the South by force.  In the event of dire shortage of military supplies, notonly the RVN but any Armed Forces of any other country in similar circumstancewould be tied down.  The balance of military power and logistics of theparties in war were too lopsided.

Oneundeniable painful reality is the RVN suffered many disadvantages since the U.S. involveddirectly in the war in South Viet Nam.

-In terms of the just cause, the U.S.offered the North Vietnamese communists

opportunityto use the slogan “Fight theAmerican to save our country” to

deceive peoplein North Viet Nam.

-Psychologically, American people were shocked with heavy military casualty

the cost tosupport half a million U.S.soldiers at high U.S.standard (2).

Additionally,the presence of the U.S. MACV Headquarters in South Viet Nam appeared to havealmost stripped away the autonomy in making tactical, strategic decision of thewar from the RVN.The RVN was neverallowed to conduct any operation in the air or on the ground by themselves in North Viet Nam. Following the clashbetween the U.S.and the communists in the Gulf of Tonkin on August 2, 1964, the U.S. decided toconduct limited retaliatory air strikes in North Viet Nam.After the U.S. retaliatory bombardment, on February 8, 1965 theVietnamese Air Force (VNAF) was allowed to fly strike missions in North Viet Namfor the first time but very restricted.The VNAF had no authority to select the target for the strike and the U.S. would notallow the VNAF to fly past the 19th parallel.Even the U.S. Department of Defense, theU.S. Air Force and the U.S. Navy had no authority to make decision.All vital targets, new or old, must havethe approval from President Lyndon B. Johnson himself before the strike (3).This writer had flown many strikemissions, day and night, in North Viet Nam but had never been allowed to flypast 19th parallel.Nottoo long afterwards, the VNAF was totally banned from flying air strike in North Viet Nam.Aside from having no autonomy to conductthe war, the RVN was detrimentally affected by the liberal news media and our’s domestic political turmoil.In my personal opinion, if the U.S. only equipped the Armed Forcesof RVN with modern weaponry, increased the military strength to the necessitylevel and only played the role of advisor, the outcome of the war could havebeen different.

Inthe past two decades, innumerable U.S. top secret documents relatedto the war in Viet Namhave been declassified.The oneamong many extremely important documents revealing how it affected the fate ofthe RVN was the “Memorandum of Conversation” of the meeting on June 20, 1972 in Beijing.In this meeting, Dr. Henry Kissinger,National Security Advisor to President Richard M. Nixon, and Prime MinisterChou En-lai discussed many global issues and specifically to resolve the war inViet Nam.The 37-page document below shows thepower and the influence of world superpowers.From page 1 to page 26, the U.S. and RedChina discussed relationship between countries and global security.From page 27 to thelast page, Kissinger and Chou En-lai specifically discussed plan to resolve theIndochina issue.

Takingadvantage of the 1969 Sino-Soviet border conflict, the U.S. wished forrapprochement with Red China.Re-establishing diplomatic relation with Red China would help the U.S. to end thewar in Viet Nam,get all prisoners of war back, resolve antiwar movement in America andalso have the benefit to exploit the huge market in the mainland.With intent to re-establish diplomaticrelation with Red China, Kissinger told Prime Minister Chou:“if we can livewith a communist government in China,we ought to be able to accept it in Indochina”.In addition, Kissinger also indirectlypromised Chou En-lai:“So from the time we came into office we have attempted to end thewar. And we haveunderstood,as I told you before, that theDemocratic Republic of Viet Nam is apermanent factor on the Indochinese peninsula and probably the strongest entityAnd we have had no interest in destroying it or even defeating it.After the end of the war we will have withdrawn 12,000 miles.The Democratic Republic will still be300 miles from Saigon.That is a reality which they don’tseem to understand”Obviously, this is astatement of a superpower.And thisis also an eloquent, forceful refute that exposes the shameless argument,distortion and lies from the leaders of the communists in North Viet Nam whointentionally tried to trumpet a victory that was planned and handed out tothem by the U.S.

Furthermore,I returned to Ha Noi in the summer of 1998 to visit my mother after 44 years ofseparation.During this period Ihad the opportunity to meet some retired high-ranking people’s armyofficers and numerous Ha Noi residents in their early sixties. Among theseofficers some had fought in the Dien Bien Phubattle.After having visited Saigon these officers were very surprised seeing that theSouth was so prosperous.According totheir opinion, South Viet Nam was ahead of North Viet Nam by a few decades,they were not impoverished and uncivilized like the party propagated.The majority of Ha Noi’s residentsrevealed to me that in the 1972 Christmas season, if the U.S. continuedbombing for a few more days, Ha Noi would have to accept any conditions imposedby the U.S.

Asa former soldier of the RVN resettled in the U.S. in May of 1975 at the age offorty, I retired in 2003 after 28 busy years working to rebuild my life in America, myadopted country.I devoted my timein retirement to learn and comprehend more about the Nationalist/ Communiststruggle of the past.Millions ofmy brothers-in-arms and I have offered 22 of the best years of our lives todefend a sacred ideology; protecting freedom and democracy of the RVN.Throughout the length of the struggle,the RVN had heroically destroyed many general attacks mounted by a group ofbellicose communists from North Viet Nam. Regrettably, towards the last daysand months of the war, global politics and domestic political in Americaovershadowed our sacrifices making our goal not achievable.More than three decades have gone I have suppressed the hatred of the communistsoldiers.In the final analysis, agreat majority of these soldiers were only victims of a totalitarian, viciousand brutal regime.Furthermore, assoldiers, they had to follow military orders.I have no resentment toward the U.S. becausethe U.S.had to protect the political and economic interest of 300 million Americancitizens.I also do not blame HenryKissinger for he was only a man executing an assigned policy.But I deeply resent and despise theleaders of the communist party in North Viet Nam for they were theculprits that steered the country into the bloody war resulting in the dead ofmillions of compatriots from both North and South. Theoretically andrealistically, North Viet Nam was totally independent after the GenevaAgreement signed in 1954.In South Viet Nam,at the request of the RVN, French forces withdrew completely from the South on April 28, 1956.During the struggle against Frenchcolonial rule, the communists had used the slogan Independence – Liberty – Happiness to mobilize patriotismfrom the people.And the people,regardless of old or young, male or female, rich or poor, had enthusiasticallysacrificed for the great cause. Therefore, when Viet Nam had achieved itsindependence, even with two different political regimes, Ho Chi Minh shouldhave focused to realize the two remaining goals; Liberty and Happiness for the people in North Viet Nam.On the contrary, Ho Chi Minh and hiscronies had always contrived to conquer the RVN while the people in the RVNwere living peacefully in Libertyand Happiness.If Ho Chi Minh werea true patriot who loved his compatriots and directed all resources and effortsin rebuilding the North, it was certain that both regions, South and North,would have been very prosperous.Irealize that it is late to recount old story, however, I am of the opinion thatit will never be late to utilize honest facts in order to preserve the accuracyof history.

Theabove mentioned “Memorandum of Conversation” is rather long andcovers many global issues.Some ofthese global issues may be irrelevant to the Viet Nam conflict negotiation.Below you will see from page 27 tothe last page that recorded the discussion between Henry Kissinger and Chou-EnLai regarding the Indochina issues.After reading this document we will allsee what Dung said in the preface of his book was totally fabricated, a blatantlie.Additionally, the so-called“Big Spring Victory” that he arrogantly bragged, in reality, wasonly a hand-out given by the U.S. after having settled with his major patron,Red China for bigger political and economic goals.It was Van Tien Dung and thePeople’s Army Publisher who truly are culpable for distortinghistory.Any reader interested toread the entire 37-page document, please go to the below link:

New Perspectives on Dien Bien Phu by Pierre Asselin. Volume 1, No 2 Fall 1997

(2)Apprentice of War – Memoir of a Marine Grunt by Gary L. Tornes.Page 247, Base pay:$155.00. Combat pay: $75.00. Overseas pay: $45.00. Totalgross: $275.00.This was1967.

Based onGlobal Financial Data in Aug 1965, the official rate in the RVN was: US $1.00dollar = $118.00 VN piastres. At this rate this US Marine was paid US$275.00/Monthwhich = $26.550VN piaters/Month in 1967.A Major, pilot in the VNAF was paid $65.000VN piaters a month = US$550.85.This includes fly pay and for a family with wife and 3 children.

(3) TheAir War Against North VN.The USAF in SE Asia 1961-1973. By the USAF, 1984.

ChapterIV, page 1. “The president retainedsuch firm control of the air campaign against the North that no importanttarget or new target areas could be hit without his approval.”







PARTICIPANTS:PrimeMinister Chou En-lai

Ch’iao Kuan-hua

Vice ForeignMinister

ChangWen-Chin, Assistant Foreign

Minister (secondpart only)

Tang Wen-sheng,Interpreter

ChiChao-chu, Interpreter

Two notetakers

Dr.Henry A. Kissinger,

Assistant to thePresident for National

Security Affairs

WinstonLord, NSC Staff

JohnD. Negroponte, NSC Staff

DATEAND TIME:Tuesday, June 20, 1972, 2:05 – 6:05 p.m.

PLACE:GreatHall of the People, Peking

(Below is the discussionand negotiation on the future of the Republic of Vietnam between HenryA. Kissinger, President Richard M. Nixon’s National Security AffairsAssistant, and ChinaPrime Minister Chou En-lai.From page 27 to the end page 37).

Want to manipulatematters.That is their feeling– I don’t know their reason for this.

Dr. Kissinger: It is not our intention. We have no intention of forming acondominium – it would take an extraordinary circumstance for us to dothis. It is not our intention to create a condominium. We do have the intentionof building walls against expansionism, either political ones or physical ones.Our primary concern with local conflicts is when a big power attempts toexploit for its own ends.

Prime Minister Chou: In the Soviet objections to our communique with youit appears that they particularly expressed objection to this common principle:“Neither should seek hegemony…” Do they think that was directedagainst them?

Dr. Kissinger: They didn’t say, but they seem to think it might be directedagainst them. We took the position it was directed only against countries thatwant to establish hegemony. I had an interesting query from India – Idon’t know whether you did. They said that since the Asia-Pacific areadidn’t include India,what we were saying was that we agreed to Chinese hegemony over India(laughter).

So I told them this was nottrue. I hope you are not offended.

Prime Minister Chou: Indiais a highly suspicious country. It is quite a big country. Sometimes it puts onairs of a big country, but sometimes it has an inferiority complex.

Dr. Kissinger: It’s been governed by foreigners through most of its history.

Prime Minister Chou: Yes, that might be one of the historical factors. And an additional one that there are such big competitions in theworld.

Now let’s go on to the Indochina question – I would like to hear from you.

Dr. Kissinger: The Prime Minister said he had some observations he would like tomake to me. Maybe we should reserve the places and let him talk first.

Prime Minister Chou: These are questions on which there are disputes, andwe would like to listen to you first to see your solutions of the problem.

Dr. Kissinger: Is the Prime Minister’s suggestion that after he’s heardme I will be so convincing the disputes will have disappeared, and there willbe no further need for him to make observations?

Prime Mininister Chou: I have no such expectations, but I do hope the disputeswill be lessened.

Dr. Kissinger: I will make our candid assessment. I know it doesn’t agree withyours, but I think it is useful for you at any rate to understand how we seethe situation. And I will take the situation from the start of the North Vietnameseoffensive on March 30.

I believe that I haveexplained to the Prime Minister what our general objectives in Indochina are. is obviousthat it cannot be the policy of this Administration to maintain permanent basesin Indochina, or to continue in Indochina the policies that were originated by theSecretary of State who refused to shake hands with the Prime Minister. Itisn’t… we are in a different historical phase. We believe that thefuture of our relationship with Peking isinfinitely more important for the future of Asiathan what happens in Phnom Penh,in Hanoi or in Saigon.

When President Johnson putAmerican troops into Vietnamyou will remember that he justified it in part on the ground that what happenedin Indochina was masterminded in Peking and was part of a plot to take over the world.Dean Rusk said this in a statement. You were then engaged in the CulturalRevolution and not, from my reading of it, emphasizing foreign adventures.

So that themere fact that we are sitting in this room changes the objective basis of theoriginal intervention in Indochina. For us who inherited the war our problem has been howto liquidate it in a way that does not affect our entire international positionand – this is not your primary concern – the domestic stability inthe United States.So we have genuinely attempted to end the war, and as you may or may not know,I personally started negotiations with the North Vietnamese in 1967 when I wasonly at the very periphery of the government, at a time when it was veryunpopular, because I believed there had to be a political end to the war.

Sofrom the time we came into office we have attempted to end the war. And we haveunderstood, as I told you before, that the Democratic Republic

Vietnam is a permanentfactor on the Indochina peninsula and probablythe strongest entity. And we have had no interest in destroying it or even indefeating it. After the end of the war we will have withdrawn 12,000 miles. TheDemocratic Republic will still be 300 miles from Saigon.That is a reality which they don’t seem to understand.

Prime Minister Chou: What they are paying attention to is your so-calledVietnamization of the war.

Dr. Kissinger: But they have a curious lack of self-confidence. What have we tried todo? Let’s forget… they are masters at analyzing various points andforgetting the overall concepts. We have attempted to separate the militaryoutcome from the political outcome so that we can disengage from the area andpermit the local forces to shape their future. Curiously enough, the NorthVietnamese have tried to keep us in there so that we would do their politicalwork for them.

Last May 30, for example, weproposed that we would withdraw all our forces if there were a ceasefire andthe return of prisoners. May 31 it was, not 30. Where would the NorthVietnamese be today if they had accepted this? In a much better position thanthey are. But they didn’t accept it. Why? Because theywant us to overthrow the government and put their government in. We arenot negotiating. I am trying to explain our thinking. The practicalconsequences of our proposals have been to get us out; the practical consequence of their proposals have been to keep us in.

They have asked us…there’s only one demand they have made we have not met and cannot meetand will not meet, no matter what the price to our other relationships, andthat is that we overthrow ourselves the people with whom we have been dealingand who, in reliance on us, have taken certain actions. This isn’tbecause of any particular personal liking for any of the individuals concerned.It isn’t because we want a pro-American government in Saigon.Why in the name of God would we want a pro-American government in Saigon when we can live with governments that are notpro-American in much bigger countries of Asia?It is because a country cannot be asked to engage in major acts of betrayal asa basis of its foreign policy.

Prime Minister Chou: You say withdrawal of forces. You mean totalwithdrawal of Army, Navy, Air Forces, bases and everything?

Dr. Kissinger: When I was here last year the Prime Minister asked me that question.I told him we wanted to leave some advisors behind. The Prime Minister thenmade a very eloquent statement on the consequences of what he called“leaving a tail behind.” Largely as a result of that, we, within amonth, changed our proposal so it now involves a total withdrawal of all ouradvisors in all of the categories which the Prime Minister now mentioned. Weare prepared to withdraw all our forces.

Prime Minister Chou: How about your armed forces in Thailand?

Dr. Kissinger: We are not prepared to remove our armed forces from Thailand, butunder the conditions of ceasefire we would agree not to use these forces in Vietnam. Andthey would certainly be reduced to the level they had before this offensivestarted if peace is made.

To explain what I mean bythis act of betrayal, even though I know this is somewhat painful, Mr. PrimeMinister, but I want to explain: If when I first came here in July the PrimeMinister had said, “we will not talk to you until you overthrow ChiangKai-shek and put someone in there we can accept,” then, dedicated as I amto Sino-American friendship, we could not have done it. It would have beenimpossible. The secret to our relationship is we were prepared to start anevolution in which the Prime Minister has expressed great confidence. Such anact would totally dishonor us and make us a useless friend of yours, because ifwe would do this to one associate we would do it to anybody.

But toreturn to the question about Thailand. In every important decision, as we discussed, thereare at least two aspects, the decision and the trend. At the dinner the otherday with those five Americans the Prime Minister referred to the 1954situation. And in 1954, whatever happened, whatever document we signed, thereality was that Secretary Dulles was looking for excuses to intervene, becausehe was convinced there was a Chinese communist conspiracy to take over Asia. We are looking for the opposite excuses.

Prime Minister Chou: The outcome of Dulles’ policy was theconclusion of a number of pacts and treaties, but now you want to abide bythem. Isn’t that a continuation of his policy?

Dr. Kissinger: It is on one level. But on the other, when we make an agreement in Indochina, it will be to make a new relationship. If wecan make it with Peking why can we not do itwith Hanoi?What has Hanoidone to us that would make it impossible to, say in ten years, establish a new relationship?

Prime Minister Chou: If after you withdraw and the prisoners of war arerepatriated, if after that, civil war again breaks out in Vietnam, whatwill you do? It will probably be difficult for you to answer that.

Dr. Kissinger: It is difficult for me to answer partly because I don’t want togive encouragement for this to happen. But let me answer it according to mybest judgment. For example, if our May 8 proposal were accepted, which has afour-month withdrawal and four months for exchange of prisoners, if in thefifth month the war starts again, it is quite possible we would say this wasjust a trick to get us out and we cannot accept this.

If the North Vietnamese, onthe other hand, engage in a serious negotiation with the South Vietnamese, andif after a longer period it starts again after we were all disengaged, mypersonal judgment is that it is much less likely that we will go back again, muchless likely.

Prime Minister Chou: You said this last year too.

Dr. Kissinger: Last year if they had accepted our proposal it would now have been ayear. If the North Vietnamese could transform this…

Prime Minister Chou: You said last year after you have withdrawn and theprisoners of war have been returned then as to what happens then, that is theiraffair. In principle you mentioned that.

Dr. Kissinger: In principle we are attempting to turn… it, of course, depends onthe extent to which outside countries intervene. If one can transform this froman international conflict in which major world powers are involved, to a localconflict, then I think what the Prime Minister said is very possible. But thisis our intention and since we will be making that policy, it is some guarantee.

Now,the difficulty has been that, for very understandable reasons, the NorthVietnamese — for whom as I have said to the Prime Minister many times, I havegreat respect – are acting out the epic poem of their struggle forindependence through the centuries and particularly re-enacting theirexperiences of 20 years ago.

Prime Minister Chou: If we counted from the end of the Second World War,27 years, and President Ho Chi Minh died for this cause before it wasconpleted. President Ho Chi Minh was a revolutionary, but also a humanitarianand a patriot. I was well acquainted with President Ho Chi Minh. I had knownhim for 50 years. I have joined the Communist Party now for 50 years and knewhim 50 years.

Dr. Kissinger: I never met him, but I knew a Frenchman in whose house Ho Chi Minhlived. In fact, I sent that Frenchman to talk to Ho Chi Minh in 1967 –that’s how I became involved in Indochinese affairs.

Prime Minister Chou: Mr. Salisbury has also been to Hanoi. But he being a correspondent is in adifferent position from you.

Dr. Kissinger: It is the one place I have not been secretly.

Prime Minister Chou: That shortcoming might be the reason it hasn’tbeen solved yet. Maybe if you had been there you might be moreclear about the situation.

Dr. Kissinger: I am clear about the situation. It’s the solution I am notclear about.

Prime Minister Chou: You have a new expert. Mr. Smyser had intestinaltroubles.

Dr. Kissinger: But he recovered just before you served Peking .(laughter)

Prime Minister Chou: He is still with you?

Dr. Kissinger: No, he went back to the university for a year, but he will come backafter the year.

Prime Minister Chou: This system of yours is good, to have your staff goaway to a university for a year and then come back.

Dr. Kissinger: I don’t think Smyser will work again on Vietnamproblems. Maybe there won’t be Vietnam problems to work on anymore.

Prime Minister Chou: Not necessarily. The Saigonproblem is really too much of a headache. And this is one of the bitter fruitsleft over by Dulles which is not yet solved. It was a tragedy created by Dullesand you are even now tasting the bitter fruits ofthat.

Dr. Kissinger: I agree with the Prime Minister that what we face now in Vietnam is atragedy.

Prime Minister Chou: You could shake yourselves free from it.

Dr. Kissinger: No. It depends on what the Prime Minister means by shaking ourselvesfree. The withdrawal we can do; the other demands we cannot do. Let me completemy analysis of the situation.

I recognize the problem isobjectively extremely difficult, and I admit we have demonstrated for 20 yearsthat we do not understand Vietnamese conditions very well, but the NorthVietnamese Government has also made a solution extremely complicated.

First, I have negotiated 13times now… eight times with Le Duc Tho; five times with Xuan Thuy. What isthe primary use when I negotiate? My primary use is to be able to go to theessence of the problem and to get a big decision made – that is myprimary use in these negotiations. I am useful for big decisions, not for aseries of little moves. The little moves should be done by the diplomats.

In the 13 meetings I have hadwith them they have engaged me in a petty guerrilla war in which we were actingon the level of middle-level lawyers in which we were looking for escapeclauses in particular phrases. Time and again I have said to Le Duc Tho –I know this is painful for you incidentally, Mr. Prime Minister, and I know youare a man of principle who will stick to his allies, but I am trying to explain– let us set an objective, say in six months we will do this and that,and then we will find a tactical solution. And time and again they haverejected this. Time and again they have done so for essentially two reasons.One is that their fear of trickery is such that they spend more time working onthe escape clauses than on the principal provisions of any agreement. And itforces them to demand immediately what we might be prepared to have happen overa period of years.

And secondly, the nature of their strategy. What is their strategy? Their strategy is to pursue amilitary campaign designed, on the one hand, to undermine the Saigongovernment, which I understand, and on the other hand, a combination of amilitary and psychological campaign designed to undermine the Americangovernment, and that we can never accept. They have never been able to make uptheir mind whether they want to settle with us or to destroy us, or at least toput us in a position where we lose all public support. And therefore, they willmake no concession, or have up to now made no concession, to me or any otherAmerican negotiator, because they are afraid that if there is the solution ofeven the most minimal problem, we will then gain the public support andtherefore they will not gain their principal objective of undermining ourpublic support to paralyze us.

Thisis the real reason that the May 2 meeting between me and Le Duc Tho failed.When they thought they were winning, their real strategy was to show theAmerican people that there was no hope, and therefore to force us into adilemma where we had no choice but to yield to their demands. This is why theydeal with us about the prisoners, not through the government or the Red Cross,but through American opposition groups whose significance they don’tunderstand at all.

Prime Minister Chou: But it wasn’t right for you either to raidtheir prisoner of war camp.

Dr. Kissinger: Well, first of all, I think that’s a differentproposition, and I would be glad to debate this with the Prime Minister, but Iam not saying every move we have made in the war has necessarily been right. Iam saying we are facing a situation now which needs solution. But I admit– though I don’t in this case – but we have made mistakes.This is why now they are making a tremendous issue about resuming plenarysessions, and yet any thoughtful person realizes that it doesn’t make anydifference whether there are plenary sessions when we have nothing to talkabout. Until there is a program to negotiate at the plenary sessions, they arepure propaganda and mean nothing.

Weare prepared to resume plenary sessions just to finish that particular issue,but they will fail certainly if we do not get a new basis for negotiating, andif they do not change their tactics. We attempt – and the Prime Ministerwill have his own judgment on this — we believe that in dealing with othercountries if one does not deal with a country morally and honorably, even ifone gains tactical advantage, one loses in the long run. But it is difficult tonegotiate if one is engaged with a country which is subverting your authority.

Now,let us talk about the North Vietnamese offensive. Without that offensive wewould have withdrawn more and more troops, and more and more aircraft. We hadno intention whatever of increasing the scale of our military activities. Onthe contrary, we would progressively have reduced them. But the NorthVietnamese offensive put us in a position in which they wanted to use the factof an election in the United States to blackmail us into meeting a demandwhich we cannot meet. We can meet all others, but not that.

Now,what is the situation today? I know what has to be said in propaganda, but itis my judgment that the North Vietnamese offensive is effectively stopped andhas no military prospects this year. They have not succeeded in generating thistremendous protest movement in the United States, despite the peoplewho walk around with Vietnamese flags, which is not many. At the time of Cambodia therewere 200,000 protesters in Washington,and they couldn’t stop what we were doing. After May 8 they tried to get200,000 and they got 5,000.

Sowhere are we? The only hope for the North Vietnamese is a victory for McGovernin November. We do not believe that this will happen. The latest polls show thePresident 20 points ahead of McGovern.

Prime Minister Chou: Even if McGovern were to be elected, could he getrid of Thieu?

Dr. Kissinger: I am not sure.

Prime Minister Chou: Not necessarily.

Dr. Kissinger: Not necessarily.

Prime Minister Chou: My view is the same as yours.

Dr. Kissinger: And don’t forget we will be in office sevenmore months.

Prime Minister Chou: That is another matter. Even if he were to beelected would it be possible for him to give up supporting the Saigon regime?

Dr. Kissinger: It is easier to talk about it than to do it.

Prime Minister Chou: It is a pitfall which was created by you which isdifficult for you to get out of.

Dr. Kissinger: That is true.

Prime Minister Chou: Whether it PresidentNixon or McGovern or Ed Kennedy. Even if you were to be President it would bedifficult. But it is a great pity you are not qualified.

Dr. Kissinger: Let us run Miss Tang.

Prime Minister Chou: Even she could not get out.

Dr. Kissinger: If she ran and made me her advisor maybe we could dosomething together.

Prime Minister Chou: One knot tied into another, and mostdisadvantageous.

Dr. Kissinger: That is true. But the forces that would electMcGovern would bring about a reorientation of American policy not only on Vietnam, butcertainly on the subjects of the Soviet Union,India,Japan,as you can read in the New York Times editorial. I don’t have to explain.If you read the tendency of the New York Times, when I threatened to cancel theMoscow summit,for example, or during the Indiasituation when it was impossible to get them to print any other point of view,even in the new columns, you will get some feeling for the reality of whatwould happen if that happened. I will speak realistically. Everyone is in favorof a Sino-American relationship. There is no fundamental opposition to this anymore. But the practical consequences that people are prepared to draw from itand the actual decisions they are willing to make other than sentimentalaffirmations or cultural exchange, that will differ enormously.

Andtherefore, any intervention in our domestic politics has two consequences.First, it forces us to react much more violently than we would have in normalcircumstances, and second, it has consequences which go far beyond Vietnam andtherefore make it much more general problem than just the Vietnamproblem.

Andtherefore, we believe that the war must now be ended for everybody’ssake. If the war continues, the Democratic Republic of Vietnam will surely losemore than it can possibly gain. Its military offensive has stopped; itsdomestic situation is difficult; and we are forced to do things to theDemocratic Republic of Vietnam that go beyond anything that is commensuratewith our objective. We don’t want them to be weak. And I see no prospectfor them to reserve the situation. And we want to end the war because itrequires now and effort out of proportion to the objectives and because itinvolves us in discussions with countries with whom we have much more importantbusiness.

Ifwe could talk to them the way we talk to you, Mr. Prime Minister – Idon’t mean in words but in attitude — I think we could settle the war.As a practical matter, we think the quickest way to end it now is on the basisof ceasefire, withdrawal, and return of prisoners. That’s the leastcomplicated and leaves the future open. We are prepared in addition to declareour neutrality in any political contest that develops and in terms of foreignpolicy we are prepared to see South Vietnam adopt a neutral foreign policy.

Wecan also go back to our proposal the President made last January 25 and whichwas formally presented on January 27, and perhaps modify this or that provisionand that involved political discussions also. But in practice, politicaldiscussions take forever. And the practical consequence of any politicalsolution is either it will confirm the existing government in Saigon,which is unacceptable to Hanoi,or it will overthrow the existing government in Saigon,which his unacceptable to us. And it is almost impossible to think of apossible compromise between these two.

Sowe should find a way to end the war, to stop it from being an internationalsituation, and then permit a situation to develop in which the future of Indochina can be returned to the Indochinese people. AndI can assure you that this is the only object we have in Indochina,and I do not believe this can be so different from yours. We want nothing fromourselves there. And while we cannot bring a communist government to power, if,as a result of historical evolution it should happen over a period of time, ifwe can live with a communist government in China, we ought to be able to acceptit in Indochina.

ThePrime Minister caught me on a particular loquacious day. (Laughter)

Prime Minister Chou: So let us conclude today. As for tomorrow morning, Iwill first consult our Vice Chairman, Yeh Chien-ying, and then maybe tomorrowmorning you will have some discussions with him. I heard that you would like tohave a picnic at the Summer Palace.

Dr. Kissinger: I was asked what I wanted to see in addition to the Forbidden City. I said I thought the Summer Palacewas so beautiful I would like to see it again. But the idea of a picnic is anaddition which is charming but was not suggested by me. It is an idea of yourprotocol department. But work comes before picnics.

JENNINGS: Vietnam: The stealth commemoration

Recognitionfor the veterans who fought and won the war is still MIA –By Phillip Jennings – Tuesday, May 8, 2012

OnMarch 29, commander in chief of the armed forces (and President) Obama signed apresidential proclamation designating March 29 as Vietnam Veterans Day. I found out by accident and have yetto talk to a Vietnam vet since that date was aware of the honor bestowed upon him. Even the 50th Anniversary of theVietnam War Commemoration website (the commemoration commission has beenfunctioning at least two years) failed to carry the proclamation.

Itmay be that National Dill Pickle Day or Take Your Hamster to Work Day knockedthe news off the front page and left no precious time on national newsstations. For the record, the Vietnam War was fought about four decades ago;hundreds of thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese were casualties;and many considered the war somewhat controversial. (Yes, this is sarcasm.)

Anumber of states also have proclaimed a Vietnam Veterans Day – some March 29, some March 30, someseemingly picked randomly, perhaps adjusted to fit holiday weekend preferences.Actually, the end of the war is marked and historically noted, but proclaimingit publicly could take the president (or others of the liberal persuasion) intoan uncomfortable area. American combat involvement in the Vietnam War began in1962 and ended in March 1973 with an overwhelming defeat of the communistforces, a peace treaty, the return of U.S. and Allied prisoners, theuneventful evacuation of all U.S.combat troops, and a duly elected government of South Vietnam in place. But theuncomfortable part has to be faced: The Democrat-led U.S. Congress pulled the plug on our allies, cut thepromised financial and military aid, abrogated the peace treaty and abandoned17 million South Vietnamese to a communist orgy of revenge after the Northinvaded the South and overran the South Vietnamese army. (Although South had no major support by this time, the Northern invaders were rearmed andsupported by the Chinese and the Russians.) Not a happy story for a Democraticpresident, perhaps particularly the current one, to tell.

Itmay be that President Obama honestly and sincerely meant to say thanks to the Vietnamveteran. But a nagging point hovers like a hornet – the question as to whetherthe obviously untrumpeted proclamation has anythingto do with friends of the president and, in particular, his early mentor andsometimes adviser Bill Ayers. Let me include the Ayers Wikipedia entry so Iwon’t be accused of trying to make his biography sound even moreanti-American than it is:

William Charles ‘Bill’ Ayers (born December 26, 1944) is an Americanelementary education theorist and a former leader in the movement that opposed U.S.involvement in the Vietnam War. He is known for his 1960s activism as well ashis current work in education reform, curriculum, and instruction. In 1969, heco-founded the Weather Underground, a self-described communistrevolutionary group that conducted a campaign of bombing public buildingsduring the 1960s and 1970s, in response to U.S. involvement in the VietnamWar.”

Mr.Ayers, by the way, most recently was seen angrily protesting the fact thatuniformed U.S.soldiers were allowed early boarding on the same airline flight that he wasboarding. As I have never met him, I cannot say whether he is a despicablehuman being.

Myfear is that Mr. Ayers might have filled his young protege’snoggin with the most radical and horrific myths that have been perpetratedabout the war these past 40 or 50 years. That might prevent the president fromtruly commemorating the Vietnam War veteran by simply speaking the truth aboutthe war – it was a noble cause fought and wonagainst a treacherous communist regime but was then thrown away. Vets I knowcare nothing about a parade or even a thanks. Those who matter thanked most ofus long ago. We want the truth known.

Which brings us to the Commission for the 50th Commemoration ofthe Vietnam War. I admire those laboring on the commission. I thank them for theirefforts. They are good and honorable men and women. They have and seeminglywill accomplish little if anything that truly addresses and honors the veteransof the Vietnam War. Isn’t it fair to ask why? Why after two years ofexistence is there no plan, no advisory board, no statement, no decent website,no activities announced – nothing? Given little evidence to the contrary, mybelief is that there is a connection between a lukewarm (at best) proclamationand a stuck-in-the-mud commission, one run by the Pentagon. My suspicions arebroad-based, but an example might illuminate.

In2011, the commission was contacted by a vice president of an organizationpurporting to represent Vietnamnews correspondents. Its demand was that the commissionremove from the website a quote from Richard Nixon to the effect thatthe Vietnam War had been misreported and misremembered. Without hesitation, thecommission deleted the quote – a quote that was accurate from the president whoactually brought the Vietnam War to a close. From the vet’s point ofview, the commission retreated without protest from the one illuminatingstatement on the website. The Vietnam War we fought and won was misreported(the evidence is legion) and misremembered (check the college history books).

Thenation asked much from its young men during the Vietnam War. The Army respondedbrilliantly over the life of the war. It seems a small thing to ask the nationto drop “controversial” as a qualifier, to ignore“quagmire” as a description and to clearly define the history ofthe U.S.armed forces as a victory. All U.S.wars have been “controversial” to a degree. There certainly wereplenty of objections to the Civil War. World War I – an unmitigated disasterexcept that the Germans surrendered. World War II – the“good war,” even though the good folks of Hiroshima and Nagasaki might disagree. Korea? Stop atthe ? Fire MacArthur?Did we win? (South Koreais free and flourishing.) The ambiguity connected to Vietnamis the result of cowardly politicians and a rebellious youth movement, reportedand supported by liberal journalists who put their own opinions above those ofthe people, the government and certainly the citizens of South Vietnam.

Thecommemoration the Vietnam veterans deserve is true recognition of theiraccomplishment – the most significant combat victory in the Cold War.

Phillip Jennings was a Marine Corps captain in Vietnam.He is author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the VietnamWar” (Regnery, 2010).