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Kerry Photo in Vietnam

by William Fielder

A photograph of Senator John F. Kerry receiving an award for special contributions to the Communist victory from the Marxist government of Vietnam hangs in the War Remnants Museum (formerly the War Crimes Museum) in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon). His partner in the Vietnam Veterans Against the War (VVAW), Jane Fonda, is honored in the Women's Museum, but she, unlike Kerry, did not receive a special commendation as a "Hero" of Communist victory.

Kerry was presented the award in 1983, when he was Lt. Governor of Massachusetts. Kerry's and others' records of activism were also lauded by the military commander of North Vietnamese forces, General Vo Nguyen Giap, in his 1985 memoir of the war. Giap wrote that, "if it were not for the disunity created by...stateside protests, Hanoi would have ultimately surrendered." Thus, one could argue that Kerry's efforts aided and abetted the enemy, prolonged the war, and probably resulted in greater American casualties.

The photograph depicts Kerry being congratulated by the future general secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Comrade Do Moi. Regardless, the former enemy's award is apparently not displayed on the wall of Kerry's Senate office, with his reclaimed US wartime citations -- which he once declared were thrown away during a VVAW war protest.

In the 1970s, Kerry attended 2 meetings with North Vietnamese Communist representatives, according to Marc Morano of CNS News (CNSNews.com). Kerry admits to one meeting in 1970, but FBI records unearthed by Morano, indicate a second took place in 1971, with the purpose of securing the release of American prisoners of war. Freelance diplomacy by non-governmental agencies such as the Kerry-Fonda group, VVAW, is illegal (US Code 18, USC 953). It is therefore understandable that Kerry would not wish to be portrayed as negotiating with the Communists.

Kerry's efforts may have also led to a later undisclosed Vietnam trip, according to an unimpeachable source of antiwar activity -- the Communist Party USA's Daily World newspaper of 16 June 1971. In 1991, Kerry co-chaired a Senate select committee evaluating whether unacknowledged American POWs remained alive in Vietnam. He cut short the investigation and shredded the reports carefully collected over a period of years by the Defense Intelligence Agency so that the evidence could not be reexamined in the context of new POW sightings.

Further, Kerry lobbied for renewed trade relations with Hanoi, and failed to vote in favor of measures that would require Vietnam to recognize human rights to qualify for that trade. After the Vietnam trade bill was passed (without the human rights requirement), Kerry's cousin, C. Stewart Forbes, chief executive for Colliers International, assisted in brokering a $905 million deal to develop a deep-sea port at Vung Tau. Finally, Kerry has stalled the Vietnam Human Rights Act (HR2833) in the Senate.

Does this record suggest that Kerry should have his picture hung in the White House as president of the United States or is the Vietnam showing a sufficient recognition of his activities?