Mr. Coleman can be reached at: email@example.com
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 to, 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 Vietnam. 2. NATIONAL SECURITY: 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. 3. PRESIDENTIAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT: 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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
"....to restore full diplomatic relations with North Vietnam before putting this question (POW/MIA) to rest will cause a further deterioration of the trust and faith the American people have in their elected officials."
Ted Guy, Former POW/MIA
"We will be happy to move forward with normalization after we have had our answers on our loved ones! Why is that so much to ask?"
Carol Hrdlicka, wife of David Hrdlicka POW/MIA
"Rather than further concessions in the hope of results, an approach which has proven ineffective, the administration should immediately undertake high-level negotiations with Vietnam to make clear U.S. willingness to move forward, but only on the basis of concrete results which actually account for missing Americans."Ann Mills Griffith - National League of Families
"I did not, do not, nor will I ever support normalization with Vietnam until we have all information and the live POWs."
Janice Visconti, wife of Frank Visconti POW/MIA
"McCain and Kerry are turncoats as far as I'm concerned. Both have hurt the POW/MIA issue."
"Chip" Bernhard, retired Lt. Col. USAF, uncle POW/MIA
"Why should we be against normalization? One question with 2,204 answers, the names of the prisoners, missing and unaccounted for as a result of the war in Southeast Asia."
Lynn O'Shea, NY Director of National Alliance of Families
"To actually work for normal relations with a trecherous communist government who tortured our men, have no respect for human rights and who are now masters of deceit is beyond the comprehension of any decent American. What would the men whose names are on The Wall or on the POW bracelets I wear think...?"
"We want truth before trade; we want answers before embassies. The only business the United States ought to be doing in Vietnam is the business of finding what happened to these men."
Sen. Bob Smith
"To normalize relations with Vietnam will mean the deaths of any remaining live POW/MIAs. To normalize relations with Vietnam will sound the death knell for obtaining remains and new POW/MIA information. Vietnam will have everything it wants, and will not have any need to cooperate even the slightest bit in providing a full accounting of our POW/MIAs."
"Would Kerry or McCain be so quick to normalize relations if they still had a loved one still unaccounted for? What is the rush for normalization of relations? Is there a hidden reason such as money?"
"Who benefits from normalization? Big business and communism. "How could we possibly benefit? Give them everything that they want so that they will then admit they have been withholding information for all this time? -admit they've been lying? I don't think so."
Ruth Downing, POW/MIA Grassroots Association
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 : Judee@cfrvm.cfr.usf.edu