When it comes to Vietnam, I'm all for moving on, putting the past behind us, looking forward, letting bygones be bygones, but doing so requires honesty about the past, lest history be forgotten and the memory and honor tarnished of the 60,000 Americans who died in that war.
On his visit to Washington last week, President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam told President Obama the late revolutionary Ho Chi Minh was inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution and by the words of Thomas Jefferson. In an ad in the Washington Post, President Sang even claimed Jefferson's vision of liberty was the same as Ho's. Not exactly.
According to the U.S. State Department's Vietnam 2012 Human Rights Report: "The Socialist Republic of Vietnam is an authoritarian state ruled by a single party, the Communist Party of Vietnam. ... The most recent National Assembly elections, held in May 2011, were neither free nor fair. Security forces reported to civilian authorities. The most significant human rights problems in the country continued to be severe government restrictions on citizens' political rights, particularly their right to change their government; increased measures to limit citizens' civil liberties; and corruption in the judicial system and police."
Does that sound Jeffersonian?
Alignment with the principles and men of America's founding is an old tactic used by many dictators to dupe some Americans into the false belief that they are just like us -- or can be made so.
Ronald Radosh, an adjunct fellow at the Hudson Institute, noted recently in the Wall Street Journal that Ho Chi Minh was "a committed Marxist-Leninist, trained in the 1920s at Moscow's famed Lenin School."
During World War II, wrote Radosh, Ho courted President Franklin Roosevelt, appealing both to Roosevelt's anti-French sentiments and to America's Declaration of Independence and American-style liberty as he sought support for driving the French out of Indochina.
All dictators have found apologists in America, whether it is actor Sean Penn cozying up to the late President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or the elites who supported Fidel Castro and the Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara.