“I think I know the American people,” said Ho Chi Minh while surprising a pair of American interviewers by suddenly abandoning the Vietnamese he spoke through an interpreter, and shifting to fluent English.
“I don’t understand how they [ordinary Americans] can support their involvement in this war,” he said, and asked: “Is the Statue of Liberty standing on her head?” (The New York Times, September 4, 1969)
The Vietnamese founding father – an erudite speaker of five tongues – was well positioned to ask this question, intellectually and morally, as a student of American history who admired George Washington as a freedom fighter who defeated a colonial power.
Ho and his struggle come to mind now, as the Ukraine War makes many wonder whether it is the Vietnam War all over again. Well, it isn’t – the two wars are different, and in some ways even inverted – but in their bottom lines they are one and the same.
UKRAINE IS different, first of all, physically, and not only because it’s twice the size of Vietnam.