Mr. Bui Tin addressed an audience of visiting of scholars, authors and retired military officers of the U.S. and both North and South Vietnam at Tech, and debunked some of the myths about the great Uncle Ho. Anyone who lived in the '60s, remembers the chant "Ho, Ho, Ho Chi Minh, Viet Cong is Going to Win." Last month Air Vietnam flew its first flight into Los Angeles with a Boeing aircraft. China is soon to become the third largest capitalist society on earth. Vietnam is begging for American investment. Who won this war anyway? Don't ask Jane Fonda.
America 's Vietnam vets may find themselves willing to raise a glass to a North Vietnamese military officer who played a historic role in the 1975 takeover of South Vietnam --and we're not referring to Hanoi 's comically sanctified Ho Chi Minh. This particular individual, former enemy colonel Bui Tin not only repudiates his Communist bosses' bloody rule in the South but goes further by dishing dirt on the glorified Ho.
Ho, who some have considered to be much the George Washington of his country, was not the chaste, simple-living soul as presented in Hanoi's propaganda. He did not, as myth goes, cast away all personal pleasures in the interest of his nation.
Ho was, according to Bui Tin a womanizer who cheated on his wife, kept mistresses and had bastard children. “The truth is coming out more and more every day,” Bui Tin told me in a recent interview in Texas , and Hanoi 's efforts to deify Ho despite his worldliness “has recently reached a comic level.” Bui Tin adds-in yet another slap at Communist myth-makers-that with respect to their personal lives, “Mr. Ho Chi Minh is far behind and cannot match Mr. Ngo Ding Diem.”
Does the name Diem ring a bell? He was the South Vietnamese president who Hanoi set out to overthrow in the early 1960s. Diem was assassinated on Nov. 1, 1963 , not by Communists but by disgruntled South Vietnamese military men who got the nod from Washington to remove him from power. Not a popular fellow at that time, Diem. One would be hard-pressed to find any other Vietnamese with such life-long linkage to the Vietnamese Communists as Bui Tin who has dared make such critical accusations against hero-figure Ho. Such utterances would, of course, be considered blasphemous and treasonous in Hanoi or in what used to be Saigon but now is called Ho Chi Minh City.
No dummy, Bui Tin did not speak out while he was in Vietnam . He has been living in exile in France since 1990, often writing critically of Vietnam 's Communists. For many years he had been one of Hanoi 's most prominent journalists, serving as deputy editor of the Vietnamese equivalent of the old Soviet Union 's party newspaper Pravda.
This is what he said in Lubbock:: “The tale about Ho Chi Minh being a great thinker with a simple life, full of virtues, taking pains to improve himself through continuous learning and practice, casting away all his personal pleasures of life in the interests of the nation, has recently reached a comic level, for the Hanoi authorities have tried to convince their own State-controlled Buddhist Association to canonize Ho Chi Minh as a `Buddha`…But the truth is coming out more and more every day with the passing of time. In complete contradiction with the image of Ho Chi Minh as a man dedicated to the welfare of his people, accepting the sacrifice of a lifetime of celibacy, it is now well-known (based on historical evidence) that Ho Chi Minh got married in Hong Kong, lived together for some time with Nguyen Thi Minh Khai, had numerous mistresses at various places where he passed through, had offspring out of wedlock, and, worse still, he completely ignored his former wedded wife, Tang Tuyet Minh, who went to great pains and tried in vain to contact her husband after he had become President of the country.”
Bui Tin has the credentials to be credible about such matters. In 1973 he was official spokesman for the North Vietnamese delegation which, after the Paris cease fire agreements, went to Saigon to arrange the return home of U.S. prisoners of war. Two years later he became a footnote to history, when on April 30, 1975 , North Vietnamese tanks smashed through the gates of the Independence Palace in Saigon . As the most senior Communist figure present--a full colonel--he accepted the surrender of South Vietnam . Years before, Diem had been executed along with his brother Ngo Dihn Nhu, who had helped Diem govern the South.
In retrospect, Bui Tin says, Diem carried out “numerous outstanding achievements” in the South. “I consider Mr. Diem an exceptional political figure, with profound patriotism, courage and integrity, and a simple, unselfish way of life,” he said. In later years, however, his regime turned “arrogant, self-righteous, subjective and even more dictatorial.”
Eventually the corrupt nature of the Diem regime caused the United States to turn against him. President John F. Kennedy gave a thumbs-up for dissatisfied South Vietnamese generals to proceed with a coup d'etat. He didn't necessarily say kill him. Some accounts portray Kennedy as being stunned by news of Diem's execution. Three weeks later Kennedy himself was assassinated in Dallas. None of that, of course, diminishes in any way the guilt of North Vietnam 's subsequent murderous aggression against the South. Ho had his Viet Cong assassinate tens of thousands of South Vietnamese officials, officers and their families, including children. In Hue alone, the North Vietnamese massacred as many as 2,000 Buddhists.
Bui Tin's ripping of the veil from the real Ho Chi Minh might shock some, but not American servicemen and women who were targeted for bullets and booby troops by his Viet Cong terrorists. The alleged purity of Ho's soul and virtuosity of his spirit is belied by the years of attacks he and his henchmen waged against the South Vietnamese and the GI's who were there to defend them.
By all rights, Bui Tin does deserve that toast for debunking the myth of Ho Chi Minh. Some might even say he deserves a medal.
(Editor's note: This brings credibility to the theory that Gen. Giap was actually running the country. And interestingly, the theory (widely accepted in France ) that Giap ordered the Tet Offensive (which militarily was a big American victory) with the specific intention of killing off as many Viet Cong as possible, because they were becoming increasingly powerful and independent of North Vietnamese control. His intention was to take over the whole country, and he feared a powerful South Vietnamese movement that might be communist in inclination, but still intent on separation. Many Viet Cong supporters ended up in “re-education camps. Such is life.)