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    Saturday, April 30, 2005

    The Image of Ho 3

    The New York Times first mentions Ho Chi Minh on 2 Oct 1945, when it reports the formation of a new political party in Indochina by Ho, “a premier of the regime.” The dearth of references to Ho during the 1940s reveals the lack of status Ho had in the perception of the American people and government. What a little insurgent did in a forgotten corner of the world mattered nothing to the (soon-to-be) largest superpower the world has ever known. However, Ho was not entirely unknown—President Roosevelt had something up his sleeve.

    FDR wanted a free and independent Indochina in conjunction with the end of colonialism across the world. He also had a penchant for back-room dealings that neither the Vice President or anyone else knew about. England and France bucked against Roosevelt’s anti-colonial tendencies. FDR aired his feelings to Secretary of State Cordell Hull saying,

    France has had the country—30 million inhabitants—for nearly one hundred years, and the people are worse off than they were at the beginning. …France has milked it for one hundred years. The people of Indochina are entitled to something better than that. (George Donelson, Moss, Vietnam: An American Ordeal, 4ed (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002) 19-20).

    Roosevelt proposed the idea of a trusteeship for Indochina and garnered approval from Stalin at the Tehran Conference while infuriating the Europeans. This trusteeship suggested that China and the United States share joint control over Indochina instead of France. This control, similar to the Iraqi occupation today, extended to peace keeping and stability until a Vietnamese government formed. However, in 1944 the Sino-American relations began to deteriorate, highlighted by the Japanese victory at the Burma Road and the Jiang-Stilwell argument over culpability. By February 1945, at Yalta, President Roosevelt gave up his hopes for a trusteeship over Indochina. However, he still entertained the idea of an independent Vietnam outside of colonial control. When Roosevelt died, all progress towards that dream died with him.

    Also importantly, Ho established personal relationships with many OSS officers who visited his base in Pac Bo. The officers viewed him as a nationalist foremost, willing to subjugate his Leninist tendencies to the higher call of unification and freedom. Ho interpreted these personal relationships as United States support of the Vietminh struggle for independence. The United States symbolized the ideals of freedom and independence—not only because of the revolutionary ideals of 1776—but also because of its recent success liberating Vietnam from Japanese rule. Ho Chi Minh believed that help from OSS officers against the Japanese also included tacit approval of Vietnam’s independence from France.

    Ho Chi Minh modeled the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence after an American copy handed to him by OSS agents. Ho Chi Minh knew it was vital to win either Russian or American support. American proximity made it seem more promising. During the August Revolution of 1945, the Vietminh issued a statement reading

    The Central Committee wishes to make known to the United States Government—that the Indo-Chinese people first of all desire the independence of Indo-China, and are hoping that the United States, as a champion of democracy, will assist her in securing this independence … (Gary R. Hess, The United States’ Emergence as a Southeast Asian Power, 1940-1950 (New York: Columbia University Press, 1987) 174-5)

    On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh declared Vietnamese independence and “repeatedly appealed to the U.S. government for diplomatic recognition” (Moss, 28). Although Ho actively cultivated friendships among the small contingent of Americans left in Hanoi and recalled the past help by Americans during World War II, neither the United States of America nor any other country, including the Soviet Union, recognized Ho’s fledgling government. Ho continued to hope for American recognition, but mused privately that “if we want to get a sufficient share [of freedom and democracy] we have still to fight” (Hess, 175).

    Friday, April 29, 2005

    Darn Mavericks

    Sad day. 20-0 run by the Mavericks in the fourth quarter downed my Houston Rockets. Well, we shall see. I believe in Clutch City, even if nobody from the old team is still here..

    Thursday, April 28, 2005

    Lost Children

    Is anyone else struck by the preponderance of missing children/pre-teenagers from Georgia & Florida over the last couple months? Does this highlight something from the culture, laws, or geographical area that makes it easier/more attractive for pedophiles to do their thing?

    BCS Mess

    Well, I'm glad to see the BCS is slowly coming around to see what most of the fans of football have railed about for the last couple years--it isn't adequate. Recently the BCS announced that it is opening up its automatic bids to all conferences. It is also moving to a plus one format, although it refuses to call it so.

    Am I happy? Not really. I think again we see the big money talking. I am a playoff supporter through and through. Does college have to mimic the NFL? No! I don't want it to. That's what makes college so special--the amateurism, rivalries, and bowls. However, it seems that every year the top 8 teams, sometimes 12, separate themselves from the rest of the pack. Is there a clear cut winner? Not always. I would have loved to see Auburn and Utah play each other for a shot at USC last year. It didn't happen.

    However, we saw basically 8 teams separated. That's the BCS. Now that it's expanded to 10 teams things don't work as well. But give the top 8 teams in the country a 7 bowl system. All the rest of the bowls can play as scheduled, the winner of the MWC against the Pac-10, whatever. Have four bowls on Christmas play the top 8. The remaining four play on Jan 1-4. The final two play the week after that. In such a format, you keep the tradition of bowl games between conferences. You keep the money. You get a playoff out of the teams that matter.

    With the addition of the Poinsetta bowl in San Diego, we know that the NCAA is not adverse to more bowl games. This arrangement can only help sort out the mess.

    Wednesday, April 27, 2005

    The Image of Ho 2

    Ho Chi Minh rose from “the son of a rural poet who belonged to the poor but well-educated Sinh branch of the extremely numerous Nguyen clan” and became a revolutionary and a household name around the world. Born in 1890, Ho Chi Minh never deviated from his goal of a unified and independent Vietnam. The New York Times, one of the largest nationally distributed newspapers from 1945 to 1975, reported on Ho Chi Minh as the United States struggled to define a policy of anti-colonialism and containment of Communism in Southeast Asia. As United States involvement in Indochina enlarged from economic aid to military advisors and direct action, the image of Ho Chi Minh in the New York Times changed from a disrespected, mixed depiction of Ho as a revolutionary and a nationalist to a more wholly negative, yet respected, view of Ho as a Communist terrorist. This change highlights the power of prejudice and ignorance in dictating U.S. foreign policy.

    I picked the New York Times for a couple reasons. The New York Times represents a nationally distributed newspaper with a broad readership. This readership, however, stems mostly from the Northeast, especially New York City itself, where it reaches a broad cut of society. Outside of the Northeast, the paper reaches more affluent readers. Those readers outside of the Northeast must have a vested interest in the paper in order to get it instead of a local paper. This often comes from interest in politics, international affairs, or current events in New York City.

    Also, the New York Times offered the easiest method of searching archives. The archives date back to 1857 and all are scanned onto the internet for easy viewing and downloading. No other American newspaper has arrchives online back far enough.

    Due to the numerous articles referencing Ho Chi Minh in the thirty years between 1945 and 1975, the research analyzed a purposive sample of twenty percent. Articles sampled included written stories, editorials, classified ads, and other advertisements. The numerous types of articles samples better represents the exposure a reader would have to Ho Chi Minh as he or she read the newspaper. This allows for a better understanding of the image of Ho Chi Minh as depicted in the New York Times as a whole, not just in a certain section or by a certain author.

    This search method did include articles mentioning Ho Chi Minh but not addressing him specifically. One article discussed a student uprising in Germany where "Ho Chi Minh" was used as an adjective to describe the covert method of smuggling out propaganda. In another, "Ho Chi Minh" was the name of a horse that came in third at the races. On the other hand, a very small portion of articles that addressed Ho only by epithet or nickname was missed.

    Ho Chi Minh appears in New York Times articles to varying degrees from 1945 to 1975. Interestingly, he shows up 29.6 times per year from 1945 to 1949, roughly equivalent to the 32.6 articles per year written about him from 1955 to 1964 (figure 1). However, 1945 has only one article while 1947 contains 76 written about Ho, showing extreme variability in article quantity during the late 1940s. Spikes in the number of articles written about Ho Chi Minh correspond to significant events in the timeline of Vietnamese independence. Authors wrote unmistakably large volumes of articles about Ho in 1950 (256 articles), 1954 (133 articles) and 1965 to 1973 (an average of 240 articles per year). More importantly, 1950 and 1954 mark noticeable changes in Ho Chi Minh’s image in the New York Times.

    Diabetes Awareness Clinic

    This Friday, 29 April 2005, at Centro Hispano (819 S. Freedom Blvd. Provo, UT) there will be a Free Diabetes Screening and Education Clinic for the Vietnamese from 5:00 to 7:00 pm.

    I organized this education clinic at the behest of Community Health Connect, a non-profit organization in Provo that deals mainly with diabetes awareness among the Hispanic population but wants to address the growing and under-represented Vietnamese families in Utah County.

    The Brigham Young University Vietnamese Student Association (BYUVSA) deserves much praise for all the time and effort spent preparing the clinic. Especially worthy of note are Tyler (Hai) Bowers, Thanh Nguyen, Hang Trinh, Nathan (Binh) Rytting, Linh Nguyen and Thi Pruitt.

    So, spread the word. If you're in the area, stop on by. Hopefully this can become a quarterly thing and we can help people.

    Tuesday, April 26, 2005

    The Image of Uncle Ho

    Spurred by recent posts at Vietpundit and Done With Mirrors, I wil spend the next couple days publishing installments explaining the results of my senior thesis: The Image of Ho Chi Minh in the New York Times, 1945 to 1975.

    I found some really interesting data that sheds light on the confusing reasons why America eventually sided with France and got involved in Southeast Asia. I would point readers to both of the blogs mentioned above because they give background to what I will say, and because both are superb blogs to read.

    With the thirty year anniversary of the fall of Saigon/Independence day (depending on the side you were on) this weekend, I think it only fitting to do this. May we all remember the horrors of that war and strive not to repeat them.

    Monday, April 25, 2005

    Bikini Cuts

    Provo, UT--

    City council members are up in arms over the proposed new Bikini Cuts hair salon. It started in Salt Lake City, and haas two locations, one in West Jordan and one in Sandy, UT.

    Ultimately, I think (to the chagrin of my wife) that Bikini Cuts is a great idea. I believe that it is a great marketing tool for selling hair cuts. A cute girl in a bikini will cut your hair. Now, if you're like me, you're blind when you get your hair cut because they make you take off your glasses. Heck, it could be a man in a bikini and I probably wouldn't know once my glasses are off.

    The true selling point for someone like me is the waiting area. For the first time, a hair salon has guy stuff. Think about waiting for your haircut while watching sportscenter on HD flatscreen televisions, while lounging in a massage chair...and if that's not good enough, you can always pick up the newest copy of your favorite men's magazine--Sports Illustrated, FHM, etc.

    That is why this store is great. It targets the one segment of the population that never truly feels comfortable getting their hair cuts--men.

    Now, don't get me wrong. I think opening a Bikini Cuts in highly mormon Utah county, where the legislature has already said they don't want anything worse than PG around, is bad business. The amount of clients possible is minimal, and no business attracts 100% of possible clients. I don't think the location will survive.

    I also would not take my children to the place. Part of my personal beliefs include teaching them to respect women and girls to respect themselves by not revealing their bodies to others. That's a personal belief. I think Provo and Orem are doing more harm than good by making such a big deal out of this. Girls have the right to wear what they want, work where they want, and if you disagree with the premise of the company, don't do business there and teach your children to live lives that follow your personal and religious beliefs. The power of personal convictions will trump some marketing scheme any day

    The Siege Perilous

    I'm back. Survived the MCAT. Survived finals. Survived graduation. Suffice it to say, my ears have bled from all the ignorant things I have heard since I last posted anything. Hopefully my blog may help assuage the pain others feel.

    On that note, all you readers with bleeding ears, check out The Siege Perilous, a new blog by my friend Thuan the Large.

    Thuan has two BA's in Asian Studies and History. He is metriculating to law school this fall. I'll leave the rest of his credentials for him to elucidate. His first post, "The Mandate of Heaven," deals with the current China v. Japan issue.

    He'll be on my blog roll.

    Saturday, April 09, 2005

    New Blog

    I'm still on hiatus. MCAT one week from today. wanted to tell all y'all about a new blog. check out The Ron Urwongse Review by a good friend of mine.

    he's got general ruminations, political musings, and faith-based pontifications.

    wish me luck on the test!