During an interview with CNN’s John King, conducted in Communist Vietnam, President Clinton insulted America’s Vietnam veterans and lied at the same time. Trying to establish his legacy as president, he told King that “students of American history, several of them, have come out in the last few weeks saying that I had kept a higher percentage of my campaign promises than any president in modern history.” This statement, coming during a tour in Communist Vietnam, represents the height of arrogance. He was confident that the media would not bother to point out that Clinton had broken a promise to the American people dealing with the subject of Vietnam and the fate of our soldiers there.
A complete compilation of Clinton’s promises was published back in the Washington Post on January 20, 1993. Under the category of international relations, Clinton was reported to have promised to get a “full accounting” of POWs and MIAs before normalizing relations with Vietnam. Needless to say, a full accounting has never been obtained. A total of 1,992 Americans are still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.
Even more seriously, evidence indicates that Americans known to be alive in captivity in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were not returned at the end of the war. The National Alliance of POW/MIA Families says, “In the absence of evidence to the contrary, it must be assumed that these Americans may still be alive. As a matter of policy, the U.S. Government does not rule out the possibility that Americans could still be held.”
Ignoring all of this, Clinton terminated a trade embargo of Vietnam in 1994, opened diplomatic relations in 1995, and signed a trade agreement with the Communist dictatorship this year. There were reports that former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was offered a bribe to put the U.S. on the road to diplomatic and trade relations with Hanoi. Brown later died in a controversial plane crash.
The National Alliance of Families declined to participate in the Clinton trip to Vietnam, after learning that it would be a massive official delegation, including over 30 private corporations. League Chairman of the Board Jo Anne Shirley stated that, “With a delegation of this size and composition, no serious dialogue on the issue would be expected unless in private. Since the Clinton Administration has repeatedly stated that this issue is their highest priority with Vietnam, we provided.
serious input to the White House on our concerns and urged they be raised privately with Vietnam’s leaders.”
The League strongly rejected statements by administration officials that Clinton’s trip would in some way put the Vietnam War behind us. The group said, “Given their official statements that reflect an expectation of reparations in one form or another, even the Vietnamese do not view it that way. We see this visit as the last step of the Clinton Administration to normalize economic and political relations with Vietnam…” The League said that since Clinton had pursued the path of normalizing relations with Hanoi, the burden was on his administration to obtain increased accountability from the Communists. Clearly, however, Clinton doesn’t care about the issue, and the major media won’t insist on accountability, either.