The following was provided by Phill Coleman

Mr. Coleman can be reached at:


Comments recently released by White House staffers indicate the President will soon announce formal diplomatic relations with Vietnam.

Over the last few days indications from the White House imply that the reason for President Clinton's decision to exchange Ambassadors with Vietnam is motivated chiefly on the Administration's long-range strategic interest in forging an alliance with a close Chinese neighbor. This surprise "leak" provides us a Kennedyesque view of Bill Clinton many Americans felt he possessed but failed to articulate or example: a perception and interest in greater, far-reaching issues than the contemporaneous domestic agenda he has so far failed to fully achieve.

Those of us who served in Vietnam, and who unarguably know the Vietnamese better than the President, are naturally wary of establishing a formal relationship with a government whose political philosophy has not changed. Like Cuba, Vietnam is still led by a communist government. Nor can we pardon or forget the tortures inflicted on American military personnel or the hostage psychology of the post-war Vietnamese government which demanded millions in "reparations" before it would grant even minimal assistance in locating our MIA's and known POW's still unaccounted for. Vietnam veterans and their families are justifiably concerned and distrustful.

However, Vietnam vets and the families of Americans still unaccounted for must face the reality that we are a fractional minority in America. And, despite those in our shrinking community who objected to Bill Clinton in 1992, a nation that chose to elect a President who came to symbolize the anti-war movement in the 1960's, will not yield to pleas today to hold-off a while longer before shaking hands with Hanoi. All Vietnam vets can ask for, indeed demand, are concessions from Vietnam and American businesses which stand to make billions on our soon-to-come "alliance".

Concessions demanded from Vietnam and American businesses by Vietnam veterans and family members of MIA/POW's should include the following Three Points:

          1. MIA/POW:
          a) free travel to Vietnam to research MIA/POWs for
          a minimum  of 1,000  Vietnam  veterans  or  family
          members per year for at least five years,
          b) unrestricted  diplomatic protection and freedom
          travel anywhere  in Vietnam for those Americans to
          investigate suspect areas,
          c) funding  for travel  to be  paid for by Vietnam
          and  all  American  companies  doing  business  in
          a) White  House demands  for  a  UN  committee  to
          establish undisputed  border lines between Vietnam
          and  China   to   prevent   future   US   military
          involvement  resulting   from  the   centuries-old
          border disputes  between Vietnam  and  China  that
          could lead to war.
          a) "That  although every American has the right to
          express his  or her  feelings on  any  issue,  the
          overt public  protest against an American military
          mission during  its exercise  could be interpreted
          by our  adversaries as  an encouragement  to  harm
          American military personnel."

As indicated in the personal letters sent by Ho Chi Minh to President Dwight Eisenhower, Vietnam and America may well share some philosophical ideas on democracy. Ho's references, praise and respect to the ideals written and spoken by an American president during America's potentially divisive ordeal, Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War, cause us to reconsider North Vietnam's actual democratic desires during the French and British occupations prior to direct American involvement.

The Administration's strategic hope that a formal relationship with a communist government in Asia might encourage North Korea toward a lesser or non-threatening direction deserves a chance. President Clinton's grand China strategy apparently holds greater promise to curb Beijing's Guevarrist philosophy to perpetuate anti-American friction than withholding Most Favored Nation status. No one can doubt William Jefferson Clinton's sincere desire to move all humanity Vietnam world closer toward a New World Order where disagreement is settled not through battle but through discussion and compromise.

Perhaps there is a light at the end of the tunnel for open relations with Vietnam. Vietnam veterans and family members of MIA/POWs can only be assured that the light now dimly flickering from the tomb of Vietnam's Abraham Lincoln, Ho Chi Minh, will shine upon our hopes and desires to exhaust every effort to ascertain the disposition of their loved ones.

The American War Library urges the Administration, the Government of Vietnam and American businesses in Vietnam to consider the above Three Points.

Phill Coleman
Senior Librarian
08 July 1995

The American War Library - 25601 Narbonne, Suite 6 - Lomita CA 90717 310-530-0177 - Fax 310-373-9792 - Modem 310-373-6597 Internet

The below information was provided by Judee Strott. She can be contacted at the email addresses listed below.


Many are more eloquent than I in putting forth the reasons why we should not normalize relations with Vietnam. Here are but a few thoughts and feelings of myself and others on this question.

The bottom line is this:

We owe it to the 2,204 who cannot be here to speak for themselves, their families and friends and supporters, and future generations of Americans, to resolve that there be no normalization of relations with Vietnam until there has been a full accounting, including the return of all live POW/MIAs.

Call, fax or write to your Senators and Congressmen. Let them know that you are opposed to normalization of relations with Vietnam. Support S.J. 34 and H.J.R. 89 "The Vietnam POW/MIA Full Disclosure Act of 1995."

The number for the Senate in Washington DC is: (202) 224-3121
The number for the House of Representatives is: (202) 225-3121

For further information, contact Judee Strott at: Judee@cfrvm.bitnet or :