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Presidential Myopia: Leaders in Vietnam and China Only See What they Want to See

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Presidents are often accused of selective blindness. Hero of the U.S. Civil War General U.S. Grant became President of the United States and was considered by most men of his time, including Mark Twain who published the President’s memoirs, an honorable man. Yet Grant filled his government with corrupt and crooked men who almost destroyed him.

In the last century, some leaders hailed Adolph Hitler during the 1930s for building an economic resurgence of miracle proportions in Germany. After 1945, they claimed to deny the holocaust or said that they were just following orders.

The current President of Vietnam, H.E Nguyen Minh Triet, spent last week in the United States transmitting a message of economic prosperity and growth for those that do business with Vietnam. But what he was told, by the President of the United States and several congressional leaders, was that he had to address what Amnesty International has called widespread abuse of human rights in Vietnam. “Harassment and threats against leading dissidents increased and attempts were made to ensure that they could not meet or talk with foreigners,” Amnesty International reported on May 23, 2007.

President Triet didn’t hear any of this.

More than 70% of the U.S. and western media reporters that filed stories on President Triet’s visit to the U.S. discussed the issue of human rights in Vietnam. President Triet and his advisors did not see any of this.

We know this because in this morning’s Washington Times, President Triet spelled out his myopic vision of the future for the Vietnam and U.S. relationship. It is a wonderful fantasy of economic wealth not unlike Adolph Hitler’s 1930s promises. It makes no mention of Vietnam’s ugly, largely unseen, repression of religious freedom, denial of free speech and free elections, near genocide of ethnic minorities such as the Hmong, and other human rights abuses like human trafficking.

The President of the United States says he mentioned these abuses to President Triet. But reading President Triet’s account of his trip to the U.S. reveals an additional crime of selective listening.

President Hu Jintao of China suffers from the same psychiatric ailments that inflict President Triet of Vietnam.

President Hu and the rest of China have agreed to be completely oblivious to what President Bush and others in the world community call the genocide in Darfur.

There are a few small glitches, though, in President Hu’s current myopia which Peace and Freedom calls the “Blindness to Darfur” strategy. The U.N. condemns it. The E.U. condemns it. NATO condemns it. Everybody condemns it. Both the Canadian Prime Minister and the King of Sweden and his PM spoke to Hu about it in the course of ten days in June 2007.  But President Hu is on a course to blow off the entire world, which he has been doing for some time.  One small fly in the ointment: Hollywood stars that are starting to refer to the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics as the “Genocide Games.”

President Hu also watched a series of interesting scandals erupt inside China during the last few months. China has slavery hidden in the outlying regions far from the prying eyes of the western media. Children are used as slaves in mines and in brick making.  Child labor is a problem too.  Children were found manufacturing Beijing Olympics 2008 memorabilia.  China has exported to the United States and the world tons of food, pet food and digestible health care products like toothpaste which are laced with poisonous substances prohibited for such uses in the west. China has brutally subjugated Tibet. China arms terrorists via Iran. China has overtaken all other countries to become the world’s number one polluter.

The list of President Hu’s and China’s embarrassing tactics and practices is growing to become an endless condemnation of the communist system he espouses.

And the two communist regimes of President Triet’s Vietnam and President Hu’s China share many things besides economic prosperity: a lack of freedom of religion, a lack of free elections, a lack of freedom of speech and the media, and a propensity for human abuses including child labor, slavery and human trafficking.

So, like Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and others like those of us at Peace and Freedom, just wanted to mention to the myopic leaders of Vietnam and China: the world will not swallow your arrogant lies forever. Human rights are meaningful and important. You cannot trash the earth and abuse your fellow man without consequences.

Even though President Triet of Vietnam and President Hu of China are partially blind; others in the world see fairly well.


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John E. Carey is the former president of International Defense Consultants, Inc.
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