Every day starts a new story, and some just aren’t true.
In WWII FDR tried to convince us that Stalin was our favorite uncle, partially because we needed Stalin to help defeat Hitler and partially because of his personal ego that convinced him that he could charm even this psychopathic killer.
Fast forward to another high school jock moment with our current president who tried to impress Vietnam’s president Truong Tan Sang. Sang was visiting the White House when President Obama implied that Ho Chi Minh had been inspired by our founding fathers.
To suggest that a cutthroat like Ho should be put on the same level as Jefferson or Washington is an insult to these flawed, but infinitely more credible men. The greatest act in the history of political leadership was when Washington refused a third term. Washington could have made himself a king. Instead he showed that he was a servant. Ho was a man who wanted power at any cost.
No doubt our president was influenced in his studies by those who had found youthful glory in the movement that undermined our troops and spat on them when they returned. They portrayed Ho Chi Minh as “Grandfather Ho,” a kindly man who just wanted independence for his little country.
The true Ho comes out when you listen to men who saw his evil side. P.O.W. Art Cormier told us the torture stopped when Ho died. Ho sent toddlers strapped with bombs toward our soldiers.
Rene Defourneaux was sent to Indochina in WWII to train Ho’s Viet Minh to fight the Japanese. He spent most of a year in frequent conversations with Ho. I asked Rene if Ho was a patriot or a gangster. Rene said that Ho was both. He said that Ho really believed in his cause to the point of living in a shack instead of a palace. “But I knew who he was. He (Ho) would kill. Ho and (General) Giap killed more people than Stalin.”
Ho consolidated his power when he took a downed American pilot to General Chennault’s headquarters in China. When asked what they could do in return, Ho requested to meet General Chennault who gave Ho an autographed photo. Ho also asked for twelve .45 pistols in Cosmoline. Ho took these to the various groups fighting the Japanese and said, “I am friends with General Chennault. See his autographed picture?” Then he handed a .45 to the leader of the group and said, “Here is a gift he wanted me to give you.” It wasn’t the last time Ho would lie to gain power.
Major Defourneaux went on to say what a charming, likeable guy Ho was, but also how he would go into the home and kill the whole family of anyone he suspected of disloyally. Ho would even kill people who were for him if he thought they had leadership qualities that could later be used against him
Power, lies, fear, and murder — that’s Ho Chi Minh’s true story.
Don McAllister directs the National Veteran’s Historical Archive. His column appears the second Sunday of each month. He can be reached at email@example.com and www.nvharchive.org.