The Fat Lady Finally Sings: Bob Kerrey Quietly Resigns from Fulbright University Vietnam Leadership Position

Below is an excerpt from my latest CounterPunch article about Bob Kerrey and Fulbright University Vietnam.  Think of it as the 2017 bookend to my 2016 CP article, Bob Kerrey and Fulbright University – What were they thinking?, published a month after the controversy erupted.  Follow this link to read it in its entirety. 

MAA

“One simply cannot engage in barbarous action without becoming a barbarian… one cannot defend human values by calculated and unprovoked violence without doing mortal damage to the values one is trying to defend.”

– J William Fulbright, The Arrogance of Power

list of victims
List of victims of the massacre.  (MAA Photo:  War Remnants Museum, HCMC)

More than 48 years after mortal damage was inflicted with a vengeance on both human beings and human values in a quiet village in Bến Tre province in the Mekong Delta, justice, fairness, and common decency won a minor victory when Bob Kerrey, former Nebraska governor, U.S. senator, New School president, decorated veteran, and self-confessed war criminal, quietly resigned from his high-profile position as chairman of the Fulbright University Vietnam (FUV) board of trustees, according to reliable sources.

Kerrey, whose appointment was announced one year ago at the iconic Rex Hotel in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) by then Secretary of State, John Kerry during President Barack Obama’s visit to Viet Nam, has stepped down behind closed doors.  He was reportedly replaced by Đàm Bích Thủy, a prominent Vietnamese businesswoman who is the current FUV president.

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Bùi Thị Lượm, the sole survivor of the attack. (MAA Photo:  War Remnants Museum, HCMC.)

It was Bob Kerrey himself who said in an interview last June, as all rhetorical hell was breaking loose, that he would not step down.  This about-face came after first saying, in response to questions emailed to him by a New York Times reporter, that he would resign if he felt his role was jeopardizing the U.S.-Vietnamese joint education venture.  I’m not a diplomat and therefore have no need to play the quiet game.  Bob Kerrey was appointed with much fanfare and some fanfare should accompany his surrender.

Never Say Never

Never say never and never forget this timeless wisdom from Proverbs 16:18:  “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  It was Kerrey’s arrogance that made him dig in his heels and delay the inevitable.  It was a firestorm of controversy and, most importantly, steely and steadfast official Vietnamese opposition, that forced him to do the right thing.  It wasn’t only about Bob Kerrey.  Jeopardize FUV he did, at the end of the day, as some predicted.

sewer
The sewer in which three children were hiding.  All three were stabbed to death. (MAA Photo:  War Remnants Museum, HCMC.)

Kerrey’s long overdue resignation is a cause for celebration and a sense of vindication for many.  It is, however, a bitter disappointment for his supporters, both Vietnamese and U.S., who probably still cluelessly wonder why a man who led a U.S. Navy SEALS unit that murdered 21 men, women, and children in the village of Thạnh Phong in February 1969 would not be considered morally fit to assume such a leadership position.

Keep in mind that this is a man who has the dishonor and disgrace of having his very own war crimes exhibit in the War Remnants Museum in HCMC, one of many such incidents in the bloodbath and industrial-scale slaughter that was the American War in Viet Nam.

Just Because the Golden Arches are in Vietnam Doesn’t Mean the US Won the War

Here’s my latest CounterPunch article, in response to a statement in a TV interview by a Pulitzer Prize-winning Vietnamese-American author that the US won the war because Viet Nam shifted to a free market economy. 

Here’s an excerpt to whet your appetite:

Last December, Viet Thanh Nguyen, a chaired professor of English and American Studies and Ethnicity at USC, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Sympathizer, described by Amazon as “thrilling, rhythmic, and astonishing, as is the rest of Nguyen’s enthralling portrayal of the Vietnam War,” made the stunning pronouncement in a TV interview that “the US won this conflict” (8:03) because Viet Nam adopted a capitalist system, what is officially referred to as a socialist-oriented market economy.

I could see many viewers nodding their heads in solemn agreement.  “Yes”, I could hear them proudly and confidently saying to themselves, chests puffed out and hearts beating red, white, and blue, we belatedly yet ultimately triumphed because Viet Nam acquiesced and became like US.  Wasn’t that our goal from the beginning?

The Big Lie

This is a line, a fairy tale, a lie that I’ve heard many times.  It somehow makes US Americans feel good that the “commies” finally came around and saw the light.  It’s a psychological and emotional salve that reassures the gullible, the uninformed, and the nationalists that the sacrifices on their side were not in vain.  The problem is it’s dead wrong.

MAA

 

 

Breaking into Cambodia: Asia’s new tiger economy

cambodian flag

My latest article, this time about Cambodia, was published by The PIE Blog with this introduction:

An economic transformation, demographic change and greater access to digital resources are all driving demand for study abroad among Cambodian students. Mark Ashwill, managing director of Capstone Vietnam, shares why the market is ripe for overseas institutions looking to recruit international students, and what they should consider when they do.

Follow this link to read it in its entirety.

MAA

Viet Nam Moves Up to 5th Place Among Sending Countries

vietnam buck trump effect

In my latest University World News article I write about the increase in the number of Vietnamese students studying in the US from November 2016 to March 2017, and the fact that Viet Nam was the only country to move up in the ranking of sending countries, displacing Canada in fifth place, as I predicted last year.

Follow this link to the read the article in its entirety.

A note to colleagues who will be attending the NAFSA annual conference and who have an interested in Viet Nam:  I’ll be participating in the following events.

Riding the Wave Viet Nam Student Recruitment Seminar: Monday, 29 May (unofficial)  Online registration is required.

Keys to Successful Non-Commission-Based Recruitment in Vietnam:  Friday, 2 June (general session)

MAA

You Don’t Have to Study Business to Do Business

book-45Forbes Vietnam published an article by me with the above title in its February 2017 (#45) issue.  An expanded English version, which focuses more on the value and advantages of a liberal arts education and includes more examples, will be published this spring.  Here’s a brief introduction:

Viet Nam currently ranks 6th among all countries sending students to the United States – with over 30,000 at all levels, mostly in higher education.  According to the 2016 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, 29.3% of all Vietnamese undergraduates in the US were studying business/management.  This was the second highest percentage of any sending country – after Indonesia.  (The popularity of business is not limited to these two countries.  Almost one in five bachelor’s degrees earned in the US is in business, per the US Department of Education.) 

maa-forbes-2-17-issue-45Why are so many young Vietnamese studying business in the US, among other countries?  Because parents – as the key decision-makers – have bought into the seemingly logical notion that their children have to major in business in order to work in the private sector.  In other words, they believe that their sons and daughters have to study business in order to do business.  This is in part because most Vietnamese are not yet familiar with the concept of a liberal arts education and its many benefits, both intrinsic and tangible.

Viet Nam has consistently ranked #1 in recent years in the percentage of its students who choose business/management as an undergraduate major.  (It was displaced in the 2015/16 academic year by Indonesia.  Still, nearly a third of all Vietnamese undergraduates are studying business.)  Meanwhile, there are many young Vietnamese who were liberal arts majors, and are now pursuing successful careers in the private, nonprofit, and public sectors in Viet Nam and elsewhere.

MAA

“The turn to nativism hinders international education”

nativism

What the United States desperately needs is more patriots and global citizens (the two are not mutually exclusive) and fewer nationalists. The golden question is how to transform the latter into the former. Can this be accomplished through education and training, or are there other factors at play that make this impossible?

Here’s my latest University World News essay, a response to a number of articles there and elsewhere that confuse nationalism with nativism.  (Note:  The title was supplied by the editor.)

My main point is that nationalism in the US is nothing new, nor is there a connection between a rise in nationalism and the ascendancy of Donald Trump.

…I would argue that the ‘turn’ is not toward nationalism, which clearly predates Trump’s election, but toward nativism, the result of populist anger about the negative effects of globalisation.

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.

MAA

Success Will Come and Go, But Integrity Is Forever

If I could teach only one value to live by, it would be this: Success will come and go, but integrity is forever. Integrity means doing the right thing at all times and in all circumstances, whether or not anyone is watching. It takes having the courage to do the right thing, no matter what the consequences will be.

integrityI recently came across this excellent 2012 article about integrity, defined as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles.”  It also applies to the education industry – in spades.

Here is one of a number of pieces of sound advice, similar to the conventional wisdom regarding gossip.  If someone gossips about others, you can sure they gossip about you, i.e., they are not to be trusted.

A word of advice to those who are striving for a reputation of integrity: Avoid those who are not trustworthy. Do not do business with them. Do not associate with them. Do not make excuses for them.  Do not allow yourself to get enticed into believing that “while they may be dishonest with others, they would never be dishonest with me.” If someone is dishonest in any aspect of his life you can be guaranteed that he will be dishonest in many aspects of his life.

Follow this link to read the article in its entirety.  A belated thanks to Amy Rees Anderson,  “entrepreneur turned mentor & angel investor,” for sharing her thoughts and insights on this important and timeless topic.

MAA