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HOLLOW VIETNAM WAR CONFERENCE
So the bias journalists, dirty politicians, and political opportunists still try to distort Vietnam War perspective to serve their own agendas even after more than 30 years since the war ended. A "hollow" Vietnam War conference is going to take place at Kennedy Library in March 10th & 11th, 2006, of course there will be no South Vietnamese presentation in this conference as usual. Read Thai A. Nguyen Khoa's article, news about the conference, and a letter from Jean Libby (regarding Pham Xuan Quang's concern on the matter) below for better understanding what is going on!
It is interesting to read the article below. A hard hit on every nailhead of the matter that most South Vietnamese can perceive on American policy of Vietnam War. But there are "two small grains of sand in the nice shoe": Bui-Tin and Doan-Viet-Hoat. One is a Communist opportunist or a political mole whose hands are soaked with innocents' blood during the war; the other is a "phony freedom-fighter" or "fart catcher" whose famous "trade mark" exclamation "Where is my wife?" is so popular among those who greeted him at his first arrival at freedom land. It would have been a nightmare, if the Kennedy Conference had invited both those suckers to speak on behalf of the South Vietnamese Nationalists. Perhaps it's a blessing for us when "Uncle Sam" can proceed with his hollow and arrogant conference without the Vietnamese voice, better than to have the wrong ones. To make it right, do it yourselves, don't rely on the foreigners or plead and cajole them for a favor. That is the valuable lesson of Vietnam War for all Vietnamese Nationalists, all generations, and all times.
THE LOST VOICE
By Thai A. Nguyen Khoa
OAKLAND, Calif.--Thirty-three years after the U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam and the ensuing debacle, America has still not learned the lessons of the war. Despite its utter defeat in 1975, America loves to listen to its favorite sons and daughters rehash the war's shortcomings in the pretext of finding wisdom and relieving future generations of angst and sorrow. But the voice of the Vietnamese people, here and in Vietnam, is always an afterthought.
Thus for two days (March 10-11), the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston will host a conference on "Vietnam and the Presidency," under the auspices of the National Archives and all 12 presidential libraries. Conference organizers have invited an impressive list of political big-shots, including former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and Alexander Haig Jr., Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), first Ambassador to Vietnam Pete Petersen, television journalist Dan Rather and Pulitzer Prize-winning authors David Halberstam and Frances Fitzgerald. President Jimmy Carter will speak via video. The organizers claim to address a wide range of issues and new information, yet curiously, not a single Vietnamese was among the invitees.
In politics, the media and academia, the voice of Vietnamese and Vietnamese-Americans is rarely heard. From the "Vietnam as History" conference at the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C., to the (USC) University of Southern California's "Vietnam Reconsidered" event in early 1983 to the recent Oakland Museum conference and exhibit, "What's Going On: California and the Vietnam Era" to the upcoming JFK library conference, the Vietnamese voice has always been circumscribed and gagged.
"Vietnam was a complex war and they need a more inclusive view," says Professor Doan Viet Hoat, a dissident who was released from jail in 1989. "The present situation in Vietnam demands it." Hoat and professor Nguyen Ngoc Bich from the Washington, D.C., area were suggested by various Vietnamese forums, but were not invited. Bui Tin, the ex-colonel from the People's Army of North Vietnam and the chief editor of Nhan Dan People's Army newspaper was also bypassed. Quang Xuan Pham, a Marine helicopter pilot in the first Iraq war and author of "A Sense of Duty: My father, My American Journey," says he contacted the JFK library to suggest Vietnamese speakers, "but to no avail."
By purposely framing the conference around Vietnam and the presidency, the organizers have effectively shut the Vietnamese voice out of the historical debate and sidestepped the issue of why America went to Vietnam in the first place. In case the pundits have forgotten, the American promise and premise was to secure the blessing of liberty and self-determination for the (South) Vietnamese people.
Or, as John F. Kennedy pledged in his 1960 inauguration address, "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and success of liberty."
These words ring hollow today, considering the lack of liberty in Vietnam since the less-than-honorable American Congress decided to cut all aid to South Vietnam in 1975 and effectively foreclose the dream of democracy there. Will the conference juxtapose Kennedy's "survival of liberty" with the Truman Doctrine's call to "support free people who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or outside pressures"?
Have Americans forgotten that we Vietnamese were fighting for our independence almost a hundred years before the United States decided to side with France in her attempt to retake Vietnam in 1946?
It was convenient in 1963, on the heels of the Buddhist unrest in South Vietnam, for America to engineer the coup against Ngo Dinh Diem so it could have free rein in the execution of the war. How ironic for the United States to take over the war when, in the struggle for nationhood at the waning of French colonialism, the Vietnamese nationalists and communists had in common, at least, a shared struggle for their place in the 20th century.
How disingenuous, then, for Nixon to "Vietnamize" the war, when beginning in 1961 Kennedy had already set in motion an American-led war. How ironic for "Vietnamization" when Robert McNamara and Gen. Westmoreland kept pouring American troops into Vietnam, where, in April 1969, American troop levels had reached 543,400, giving a false sense of security to the Vietnamese and convincing them that only a reliance on U.S. military superiority would bring freedom to Vietnam. Was it "Vietnamization" when Kissinger forced President Thieu to sign the Paris Accords in 1973 (ineffective as he was, Thieu was prescient enough to resist signing a death warrant for South Vietnam), when Kissinger knew all along that the North Vietnamese were not going to honor the accords?
In the end, there was neither peace nor honor for Vietnam, only a sell-out agreement forged by the Americans.
The United States squandered 58,000 Americans and more than 3 million Vietnamese lives in its last betrayal of Vietnam, leaving more than 1.5 million Vietnamese-Americans and 80 million Vietnamese in Vietnam to sort out their fates in the 21st century. Now, more than 30 years later, those who consider themselves the top thinkers and the very conscience of America will sit at the JFK Presidential Library in judgment of America's past action and once again leave out the most critical players of all: we Vietnamese.
VIETNAM AND THE PRESIDENCY CONFERENCE
National Archives and Presidential Libraries to Host Historic Two-Day Conference on Vietnam and the Presidency
-- Kissinger, Haig, Sorensen, Rather, Halberstam Among Participants --
For Immediate Release: January 10, 2006
Press Contact: Brent Carney (617) 514-1662; Brent.Carney@JFKLFoundation.org
On March 10 and 11, 2006, the National Archives and the nation's Presidential Libraries will host an unprecedented two-day conference examining the history of the Vietnam War and the American presidency. The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
"Vietnam and the Presidency" is the first national conference sponsored by all the Presidential Libraries - from Hoover to Clinton - and the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). Leading historians, key policymakers of the era, and journalists who covered the war will examine the antecedents of the war, presidential decision-making, media coverage, public opinion, lessons learned and the influence of the Vietnam experience on subsequent U.S. foreign policy.
Among those participating in the historic two-day conference will be General Alexander Haig; Secretary of State Henry Kissinger; Special Counsel to President Kennedy Theodore Sorensen; Special Assistant to President Johnson Jack Valenti; Senator Chuck Hagel; New York Times columnist Bob Herbert; Ambassador Pete Peterson; professors George Herring, Robert D. Schulzinger, and Marilyn Young; journalists Steve Bell and Dan Rather; Pulitzer Prize-winning authors David Halberstam and Frances Fitzgerald; and historians Michael Beschloss, David Kaiser and Jeffrey Kimball. Former President Jimmy Carter will speak via video and NBC Nightly News anchorman Brian Williams will moderate all of the second day's sessions.
The Vietnam War was the longest and most controversial war that the United States ever fought. It claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and over three million Vietnamese. From the arrival of the first U.S. military advisors in the 1950s to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, U.S. involvement in Vietnam was central to the Cold War foreign policies of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. The war has continued to affect the policies of subsequent presidents and its legacy is particularly relevant today during America's war on terror.
"It is our hope and expectation that this conference will reveal a wealth of new information on the history of the Vietnam War and its impact on the office of the President," said Archivist of the United States Allen Weinstein. "As keepers of the nation's official history, the National Archives and the Presidential Libraries are uniquely positioned to provide a forum for examining the effect of the war in Vietnam on our nation, and its citizens."
Reservations for "Vietnam and the Presidency" are required and may be made by calling (617) 514-1642 or by writing the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Columbia Point, Boston, Massachusetts, 02125, Attn: "Vietnam and the Presidency." The program is subject to change due to speakers' schedules. For more information, and an updated schedule of the conference, access the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum's Web site at www.jfklibrary.org.
"Vietnam and the Presidency" is sponsored by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA); Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum; Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute; Harry S. Truman Library Institute; Eisenhower Foundation; John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum; John F. Kennedy Library Foundation; Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum; Richard Nixon Library and Birthplace; Gerald R. Ford Foundation; Jimmy Carter Library and Museum; Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation; George Bush Presidential Library Foundation; William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum; and the Foundation for the National Archives.
Conference Schedule as of January 9, 2006:
Speakers for the "Vietnam and the Presidency" Conference Friday, March 10 and Saturday, March 11, 2006
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum
Columbia Point, Boston, MA 02125
Friday, March 10
How We Got In: The United States, Asia, and Vietnam
1:00 -2:30 p.m.
Professor George Herring, Alumni Professor of History, University of Kentucky, author of America's Longest War: The United States and Vietnam, 1950-1975.
Professor Robert D. Schulzinger, Professor of History, University of Colorado, Boulder, author of A Time for War: The United States and Vietnam, 1941-1975.
Professor Marilyn Young, Professor of History, New York University, author of The Vietnam Wars, 1945-1990.
Moderator, Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States.
Vietnam and Presidential Tapes
2:45 - 4:45 p.m.
On Johnson: Presidential Historian Michael Beschloss, author of The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964.
On Kennedy: Professor David Kaiser, Professor of Strategy and Policy, Naval War College, author of American Tragedy: Kennedy, Johnson, and the Origins of the Vietnam War.
On Nixon: Professor Jeffrey Kimball, Professor of History, Miami University, author of The Vietnam War Files: Uncovering the Secret History of Nixon-Era Strategy.
Moderator, Sharon Fawcett, Assistant Archivist for Presidential Libraries.
5:00 - 5:30 p.m.
David Halberstam, Pulitzer Prize-winner for his coverage of the Vietnam War for The New York Times; author of The Best and The Brightest, the acclaimed critical history of how and why the United states went to war in Vietnam.
Saturday, March 11
Moderator, Brian Williams, Anchor and Managing Editor, NBC Nightly News
The Media and the Role of Public Opinion
9:00 - 10:30 a.m.
Steve Bell, news correspondent for ABC News from 1967-1986, reported from Vietnam and Indo-China in the early '70s.
Frances Fitzgerald, non fiction author and journalist, received both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award for Fire In the Lake: The Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam.
Dan Rather, CBS News anchorman from 1981 to 2005 and 60 Minutes II correspondent; covered Vietnam for CBS News in the mid 1960s.
Inside the White House
10:45 a.m. - 12:45 p.m.
General Alexander Haig commanded a battalion in Vietnam from 1966 to 1967; he was Military Assistant to President Nixon's National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, eventually becoming Nixon's White House Chief of Staff. He was Secretary of State from 1980 to 1981 under President Reagan.
The Hororable Henry Kissinger served as Secretary of State from 1973 to 1977. He was President Nixon's National Security Advisor from 1969 to 1973. He was a co-recipient of the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize for negotiating a ceasefire between South and North Vietnam.
Theodore Sorensen was Special Counsel to President Kennedy from 1960 to 1963. He is Senior Counsel for the New York City law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison.
Jack Valenti was Special Assistant to President Johnson from 1963 to 1966. He was president of the Motion Picture Association from 1966 to 2004.
2:15 -3:45 p.m.
The Honorable Chuck Hagel earned two Purple Hearts during his service in Vietnam. He is Nebraska's senior U.S. senator.
Bob Herbert served in Korea in the 1960s. He has been an op ed columnist for The New York Times since 1993.
The Honorable Pete Peterson, a captain in the Vietnam War, was shot down in 1966 and remained a prisoner of war for six and a half years. He was the first American Ambassador appointed to Vietnam since the war.
LETTER FROM JEAN LIBBY
These are great questions and ideas to get something going for Vietnamese representation at the Kennedy Library symposium. You are the person to spearhead because you have spoken recently at both the National Archives and a Presidential Library.
Your question: is there someone who can represent Vietnamese Americans? I say yes, and that person is Nguyen Ngoc Bich, of Virginia. He has historical knowledge, scholarly credentials, international reputation (recently the only Vietnamese American at a gathering in Paris to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the end of the war), excellent bilingual skills, and consummate style. He was in both Washington D.C. with the Embassy and the Republic of Vietnam during the war.
The issue is inclusion of the position of the Vietnamese allies of the United States.
This history is quickly being lost in the spin that the Republic of Vietnam was not an entity worth fighting for, did not have leaders and people who understood and wanted democracy. The history of the Vietnam War in the United States is presented by the winners as an independence movement. Americans grow up now believing this, it's in all the textbooks.
Is there anyone listed on the program who believed in democracy for Vietnam? Certainly not Kissinger, who sold the people down the Seine River for a photo-op and release of only American prisoners. He will want to make the Paris Peace Accords of 1973 his historical legacy by glorifying his betrayal of the Republic of Vietnam.
Certainly not Ted Sorensen and Jack Valenti, who covered the tracks too well, and whose primary interest is to protect the historical reputations of their presidents.
What about the American journalists who told the world that the communists were winning during the Tet Offensive, when the opposite military and political position was correct. They are crediting themselves with ending the war, and they do it by denigrating the Republic of Vietnam military and political leadership and falsely presenting the people as welcoming Ho Chi Minh's armies and ideology.
The issues can be summarized as presentation of the Vietnam War as an American War, which serves the interests of the Communist regime and the antiwar Americans.
Quang, you have run up against the gatekeeper of the Presidential libraries. Delay, wait, "be reasonable," until it is too late to change anything. This is exactly what the Community Advisory delegation to the Oakland Museum faced in asking for Vietnamese American inclusion in the exhibit after Mimi Nguyen was summarily fired for proposing this inclusion in writing. The smiling faces are sometimes more treacherous than the obstinate ones. Neither had any intention of inclusion.
Inclusion in the Presidential conference can be approached from the outside or the inside. If anyone could have changed it from the inside, it would be you, with your recent experience as an invited speaker to both the National Archives and the Nixon Library. But you got the classic brushoff.
Therefore, what is the best way to get public recognition that without inclusion of the history of the Republic of Viet Nam presented by themselves, it will be historically hollow?
All in exactly two months' time? The only people who can do this are bloggers who get read. Unfortunately this costs a bit of money, but not a lot. Your blog has to be able to be Googled on its topics. It has to leave the realm of personal expression and be found, quickly, online. I have just looked at yours (which I put onto a link on my site, http://vietamreview.blogharbor.com ) and it was hard to navigate into. It needs its own url, which you don't get with free hosts.
I have just joined an organization called the Online News Association. Perhaps this one can help you get read, online, with the important things you have to say.
This list serve has a lot of journalists with websites. Let's all link into Quang X. Pham's blog, which is at www.asenseofduty.com and get the information and opinions out there. Knowledgeable people can submit materials, too. His email is just below.
People will be reading journalist blogs about the conference while it is occurring more than print news.
Thank you, Quang X. Pham, for leading this inquiry.
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