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Gordon Cucullu- Contributor


Former Green Beret lieutenant colonel, Gordon Cucullu is now an editorialist, author and a popular speaker. Born into a military family, he lived and served for more than thirteen years in East Asia, including eight years in Korea. For his Special Forces service in Vietnam he was awarded a Bronze Star, Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry, and the Presidential Unit Commendation. After separation from the Army, he worked on Korea and East Asian affairs at both the Pentagon and Department of State as well as an executive for General Electric in Korea. His first major non-fiction work, Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin, is based in large part on his extensive experience in Korea and East Asia as a governmental insider and businessman. [website] [go to Cucullu index]

Separated at Birth : How North Korea Became the Evil Twin
Gordon Cucullu

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Hanoi Jane Rides Again
An empty, phony apology…
[Gordon Cucullu] 4/14/05

Neither absence - nor a bogus apology - will make veterans’ hearts Fonda. As part of her Extreme Makeover 2005 Jane Fonda is back out on the talk show circuit peddling her new book and, no surprise from someone whose life is defined by self-absorbtion, herself. Much has been made, particularly among the usual liberal subjects, about her ‘apology’ for her actions in support of North Vietnam during the war. Given their prejudices in the affair Fonda’s supporters think that no apology is necessary and that Jane has demonstrated great character in tendering one. In the opinion of some of these fuzzy-headed interlocutors now that Fonda has ‘apologized’ for her actions, those she wronged – primarily American Vietnam Veterans and their families - are in turn required to forgive her. This is all couched under the smoke of History Lite.

Ever since her treasonous behavior in the 1970s Jane Fonda has been trying to recoup. Her behavior during her trip to North Vietnam was so awful that on return she recognized that her image was damaged, not fatally but seriously, with a large audience segment. Her actions hurt her financially at the time and continue to do so. As a consequence, in every one of her periodic ‘comebacks’ she offers some highly qualified exculpatory remark about her behavior that media sycophants leap upon as evidence that she has ‘apologized’ to Vietnam veterans. Supposedly her self-serving statements then wipe out all previous guilt. Any veteran not big enough to accept these bogus apologies is then made to feel small minded by comparison. This has been a repeated pattern that we see once again in the Jane 2005 remake.

I for one, do not accept that she has even offered a genuine apology. If Fonda were sincerely apologetic it would not be necessary for her to speak in such highly qualified, guarded language. From kindergarten on we have all learned that when we make a mistake we say ‘I’m sorry.’ If our apology is real we demonstrate it by modified behavior. There is nothing complicated or mysterious about it. It is when we reach adulthood that we learn how to craft language so that our apologies become non-apologies. We pick and choose our words and phrases so that they seem to imply more than they really do. Having an on-staff publicist and ghostwriter to wordsmith it helps also.

Fonda has used a couple of techniques in her bogus apology that become apparent upon more than casual examination. First, she consistently avoided using any phraseology that conveyed sorrow for her behavior that might have harmed others. Her real focus is, as it as always been, on herself, not on those she hurt. So she dwells on such phrases as ‘regret’ and ‘unfortunate’ as if her actions were beyond her control. By seeming to deflect responsibility to some outside power she then aims to escape self-criticism. Further she very disingenuously attempts to focus all attention on the well-known photo of a grinning Jane Fonda seated behind a large caliber North Vietnamese anti-aircraft gun, clapping her hands in glee. This, she refers to as a ‘momentary lack of sanity that has haunted me my entire life.’ More self-absorbed language designed to divert attention. As with most of her life, the visit to Vietnam was all about her and remains so in her mind today.

If all Fonda had done was to visit North Vietnam – America’s enemy in a shooting war – and pose on a weapon that was killing her fellow Americans, that act in itself would be bad enough. And it would be understandable if she apologized for doing it by explaining that it was an irrational act. Everyone tries to find some excuse for bad behavior. But Fonda never apologizes for the gun scene. Instead she expresses regret that she was caught posing on the gun. That is what has ‘haunted’ her. In Fonda’s mind the act was natural, maybe even positive, but the adverse publicity that resulted was ‘unfortunate.’

What Fonda fails to mention let alone apologize for is her egregious behavior toward American prisoners of war held by the North Vietnamese. She had these men brought to her – cleaned up and dressed in new prison uniforms for the occasion – and charged each one with ‘war crimes,’ ‘bombing the innocent people of North Vietnam,’ and other absurdities. If the POWs tried to pass a message to her she reported that prisoner to the North Vietnamese captors who tortured and frequently murdered the prisoner. One group, intending to get the message out that they were alive, wrote their names and social security numbers on tiny bits of paper that they passed to Fonda while she came down the row shaking hands and accusing them of horrific war crimes. ‘We felt that it had to be an act,’ one American pilot said later, ‘we thought that no one could be that naïve.’ Fonda accepted each piece of paper that was surreptitiously passed to her. Then after reaching the end of the line, without blinking an eye, Fonda turned to her North Vietnamese host and dumped the papers into his hands. Of that group three of the men were tortured to death. One barely survived and related the story.

After 1973 when the POWs were released one of the first questions they asked was ‘Is Jane Fonda in prison?’ Certainly that is an understandable question. In addition to her actions that contributed directly to the torture and mistreatment of American POWs she also made many propaganda statements over Radio Hanoi that were intended to undermine the war effort. She issued bubble-headed comments like ‘if we understood what communism was we would all fall on our knees and beg to be communists.’ Her reprehensible actions link her directly to the deaths of several POWs. She should have been charged. Others, like Tokyo Rose and Axis Sally in World War II, were tried after the war and served time in prison for simple propaganda broadcasts in support of an enemy in wartime.

Fonda skated then because of the large anti-war bias among the media elite and the hard left in this country. It was not considered wise to prosecute Fonda and others like her who gave aid and comfort to the enemy. We were as a nation were preoccupied with exiting Vietnam at any cost, and were obsessed with destroying the president via Watergate. It was decidedly not popular even to discuss prosecuting traitors that some portrayed as heroic anti-war protestors. It is, therefore, highly unlikely that Fonda will ever have to answer for her treasonous behavior before a court of law. That is the unfortunate reality.

Nevertheless, if Jane Fonda was really sorry for her actions she is smart enough to know how to say so clearly, directly and without duplicitous weasel wording. She could make a sincere, unqualified, non-self absorbed apology that might carry some weight with men and women who suffered incredible pain as a result of her traitorous actions. That she has not done so despite of the passage of time and with the perspective of history demonstrates much about her present mindset. She has not changed a bit, but is continuing her life story of personal aggrandizement at the expense of those she loathes and despises. Among most Vietnam veterans the feeling is mutual. As a veteran myself, I urge my fellow Americans: not to buy into yet another phony attempt at a remake by this execrable woman. tRO

Curious about North Korea? Learn more in Gordon’s best-selling book Separated at Birth: How North Korea became the Evil Twin became the Evil Twin, Lyons Press available at bookstores now.

copyright Gordon Cucullu 2005




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