As Ion Mihai Pacepa, the highest-ranking, Soviet-bloc intelligence defector to the West, makes clear in his new book and companion documentary movie titled “Disinformation,” when lies are repeated by credible sources “misinformation” becomes “disinformation.”
A good example of this occurred last week when Barack Obama met with Truong Tan Sang, the president of Vietnam, and the pair publicly shared the lie that Communist dictator Ho Chi Minh “was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution and the words of Thomas Jefferson.”
Back in the 1960s, when I was running around with a Viet Cong flag and protesting U.S. genocide in Vietnam, I helped spread this lie myself.
But that’s what it is – a lie.
Ho Chi Minh was a very astute Communist leader. He was also a brutal mass murderer who killed at least 500,000 of his own countrymen and imprisoned tens of thousands in re-education camps. While it is true that, in 1945, as Ho was seeking to end French colonialism in Southeast Asia and replace it in Vietnam with Soviet-style Communism, he sent a letter to President Harry Truman quoting Jefferson and the Declaration of Independence. That was smart diplomacy.
It wasn’t smart enough to fool Truman, by the way. But it did fool enough American young people in the 1960s to generate an anti-war movement that became convinced Ho was “the George Washington of Vietnam.”
However, it’s now 2013. We now know what kind of death and misery Ho inflicted on his own country. The history is written. He wasn’t the George Washington of Vietnam, as he pretended to be. He was the Josef Stalin of Vietnam.
His goal in citing the Declaration, according to Ho’s biographer, William Duiker, was to “induce the United States to support the legitimacy of his government, rather than a return of the French.” Again, good diplomacy, but historical figures are to be measured first by their deeds and secondly by their empty words.
Does it trouble Obama that Ho turned out to be a mass murdering totalitarian rather than a Jefferson or Washington?
Apparently not. And that should be alarming to every American. Once again, it strongly suggests that Obama, like so many leftists, believes the ends justify the means and that their goals of statist control of the population are to be pursued “by any means necessary.”
Ho wasn’t “inspired” by America’s founders. He was cloaking his objectives in their famous words and noble ideas.
Now, do you believe Obama doesn’t understand this today? Or is Obama doing the same thing Ho was doing – using deception to achieve a goal, rewriting the history of the Vietnam War to make America the bad guys?
Here’s what Obama told the public after his meeting with today’s president of Vietnam: “At the conclusion of the meeting, President Sang shared with me a copy of a letter sent by Ho Chi Minh to Harry Truman. And we discussed the fact that Ho Chi Minh was actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. Ho Chi Minh talks about his interest in cooperating with the United States. And President Sang indicated that even if it’s 67 years later, it’s good that we’re still making progress.”
Would “progress” be an accurate understanding of what led to the Vietnam conflict and the terror Ho imposed on his people – a terror that eventually spread through all of Southeast Asia, genocide, the boat people, the killing fields?
But back to my point about disinformation.
Never before has an American president, not even Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter, repeated the lie that Ho Chi Minh was “actually inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution and the words of Thomas Jefferson.”
And that’s “misinformation” that becomes “disinformation.”
As Pacepa, the former head of Romanian intelligence, conveys so skillfully in his new book and movie, disinformation is a powerful formula for changing hearts and minds, empowering tyrants and excusing some of the most unspeakable crimes of history. Worse yet, it ensures future unspeakable crimes will be perpetrated.