Ngo Ba Thanh:
well, at that time I used to be invited for those sort of, well,
diplomatic forays, actually. But then we discussed friendly, but also
arguing very hard. And, that very night, I would remember, I think, all
my life because it was really impressive. I was the only Vietnamese, the
only woman and that was... I mean the company was really impressive,
starting with the British ambassador there, it's Etherington-Smith – ha, ha, I remember his name – as host. And
as guest, most if not all, the ambassadors, political and military
attachés from those, at that time, allies which would include Ambassador
Cabot Lodge, the
so called specialist on ah... ah... eh... specialist on... eh... Thompson was
on... uh... what we called guerrilla, British, and uh... General Westmoreland, uh...
and the... that would include all the various British, Australian, New
Zealand embassies' people.
so we uh... were discussing on the very hot issue... the ... those
people said that, well, "You were the most clever woman. We were right
so far in wanting peace and self determination, but this time we've got
the answer. Because we are going to the very root of the problem which
means we are going to bomb North Vietnam. And only after that... uh...
this will be done that we've got peace for good. And we would like your
idea on this."
I said that, "Well, my idea, you know, because we were discussing on and
on for years, the more you go with the military... uh... solution, the
more people got sympathizing with the other side and you've got more
Communist people, or supporters. This time I am going to tell you in
advance that this is going to be a terrible failure. Because this time I
am going to join the group which is openly against American involvement
that way." Ah.
were then trying to convince me and once more they argued. And General
for example, you know, he was saying to... he was on my right side, very
gallant, very uh... uh... spiritual, certainly. He was telling me that
he was the youngest four star, American youngest four star, and then his
life, his future, is committed as well as the honor of America. And the
others were telling this... Thompson was telling me something which... I
was smiling at the time...
was telling me that "You know you are a very good girl but very candid.
And you know that some time children think that they are grown ups. So
they don't want to listen to their parents' advises. And this is your
case." And I was trying to tell him that if he thinks the relationship
between Great Britain and
Vietnam was that kind of relationship then he was wrong. Because I
understand that matured... that my country should be on equal footing
with theirs and that the comparison was quite bad.
so, one or the other was explaining their military involvement, the
economic... in all fields... and telling me that this time was going to
be last chance. Westy was telling me that, Well give me another eighteen months.
And I was just saying: "Now, look, General, I am willing to give you
twenty-four months just as I have been giving you several times already
you know. But this time will be your last chance. I'll be generous. And
I hope that next time we are going to see again you'll be right.
I'm afraid to tell you that you'll get very disappointed. It's going to
be a terrible mess: You are going to lose the war and your future and
your four stars and all that." And, well apparently he did not like this
sort of joke, you know. But still. So, one or the other was explaining
the military program and all that. So finally we agreed that we are
still we just separated on good terms, toasting me good health and all
that. And, apparently, it seems as if we're going to have next meeting
next week. But the next morning I was invited to go to the police
headquarters and I spent two other years because I spent several times
already. And after two years I was released. Of course, no charge.
Except that it was a preventive arrest that eventually I would disturb
the victory of the allies and working for the enemies.
by the time I got released, of course all those cameramen and newsmen
came and interviewed me. So they said: "What is your first question?"
And I said: "My first question is: 'Where is Westy?' Because I
am here now, ready, and on time for the meeting, but he is not. But I
understand that, meanwhile, he, after the militant...how would I say
it?... venture so he lost his position. So I don't know how are the four
so some journalists asked me whether I would like to send a message to
him. And I said: "Yes. But I feel sorry what I told him before was
right. But I gave him all the chances that he wanted to." Eh...to me
still that was a big shock because when I was in jail I did not expect
that things would happen that way. I knew that the military situation
was deteriorating, but not to the extent that all my friends, you know,
most of the intellectual groups joined the Alliance and they all went to
the other side and formed the GRP.
so things even went too fast for me during the two years that I spent in
jail. And I was told then that wave got a democratic government, that
we've got the best example of Western democratic style of government and
now that was my government and that I'd better understand that and be a
good citizen. And that was how things went on. And then from that period
of time on, I had to switch completely. There was no more party, no more
toast, no more discussion at the democratic dinner. But I find myself
demanding peace and self-determination and independence in the