Bernie Yoh on Revolution

by Richard Poe
Sunday, July 5, 2020

2:29 pm Eastern Time

Bernie Yoh speaks at UC Davis, April, 1986, on the topic of revolution.

Richard Poe

THIS IS the second of two videos I recently transcribed depicting campus appearances by Bernie Yoh. This one was taped at UC Davis in April, 1986.

This video includes little-known facts about Bernie’s wartime activities in Shanghai. For instance, Bernie debunks the “myth” that guerrilla forces must operate in the countryside, a mistake which he says cost Che Guevara has life.

Instead, Bernie argues that guerrillas are most effective when based in cities, a theory he put into practice during World War II, when Bernie ran spy networks in Shanghai, while commanding guerrilla units against Japanese occupation forces in surrounding areas.

In this video, journalist Stan Atkinson speaks briefly about working with Bernie in Vietnam during the early 1960s, when Bernie was helping the Ngo Dinh Diem regime develop a counterinsurgency strategy against the Viet Cong.

In 1962, Atkinson made a documentary called “The Village That Refuses to Die” about one of Bernie’s greatest successes, the fortified village of Binh Hung in the Mekong Delta, commanded by “fighting priest” Fr. Nguyen Lac Hoa. With Bernie’s help, and under Fr. Hoa’s leadership, the armed villagers successfully out-fought the Viet Cong, establishing a free zone in the heart of communist-held territory, encompassing 22 villages.

In this video, Bernie is unusually blunt in criticizing President Johnson’s massive deployment of U.S. combat troops to Vietnam in 1965. In Bernie’s view, Fr. Hoa’s successful model of civilian self-defense would have worked, had it been properly implemented nationwide.

Bernie was a great believer in the power of peoples’ militias to safeguard freedom, not only in far-off countries like Vietnam, but also here at home.


HOST (TYRONE): Okay, everybody, I’d like to welcome you to all to UC Davis and our speaker tonight, this gentleman, as you might be aware, is a life-long revolutionary fighter. He’ll be introduced formally in one minute. I want to introduce the person I want you to meet, then we have a celebrity in our midst, Mr. Stan Atkinson from KCRA. If you could welcome him down for two seconds.

[Applause, as Atkinson descends into the pit from an upper seat.]

ATKINSON: Thank you, Tyrone. It’s a great pleasure to do this, because the man you’re gonna listen to is [unclear] to me, my life and my career. He met me when I was a rather idealistic liberal young reporter in my mid-20s in the bowels of South Vietnam in the very early 1960s, 1962, in fact, long before Americans even knew where there was, or that there was a South Vietnam. Bernie was, oh, there’s a microphone.

HOST (TYRONE): We do use microphones in this [unclear].

ATKINSON: I sometimes forget that. When I first met Bernie Yoh in 1962 in the far south of South Vietnam, on the Ca Mau peninsula, he was serving as a liaison and a strategist and a helpmate for the most unforgettable character of my life, a Chinese Catholic priest named Father Nguyen Lac Hoa who had at the time probably the most effective fighting force against the VC.(1) At that time, that was the “dirty little war” in Vietnam, long before we got into it and the war escalated, when the war was really a matter of insurgency and counterinsurgency, and this man was a past master at it, with the guidance of the man you’re going to hear from tonight, who is absolutely one of this country’s major past masters in the art of guerrilla warfare and the art of psychological warfare. You’re going to hear tonight from my dear and old friend, my Dutch uncle, Bernie Yoh. Bernie?


YOH: Thank you, Stan. I was going to announce, clarify this point myself a little later, but since Stan mentioned, I’m known in Washington, D.C. and other places as Bernie Yoh. The name on the poster, Shing Tzu, is my real name, my Chinese name, and the picture, if you look at the picture and you say this guy doesn’t look like the guy on the picture, well, that’s me also. It happened to be my photograph 40 years ago, exactly 40 years ago. The reason I use this photograph for this poster is this. Forty years ago, in fact, this month, April, was the transition point from a simple guerrilla fighter into a revolutionary, and, from that day on, I have been a revolutionary and I still am one. Exactly the same cause, the same revolution I dedicated myself to forty years ago.

Let me, um… [sound of writing on chalkboard]… This is the word, the characters for revolution in Chinese. Ge Ming. Unlike the English word revolution that has a connotation of something revolving and has no basic value attached to it—the revolution could be a good one, could be a bad one, could bring disaster, could bring great success, a great forward movement—in Chinese, there is no such thing as a bad revolution.

Ge ming. Ge is improvement. Ming is life. So it means improvement of life. So, to a Chinese, a revolution is always good, and I guess this is the reason for one of the more well-known revolutionaries, Mao Tse-Tung, every time he finds something he couldn’t get achieved, accomplished, he looked for solution through revolution.

BERNIE YOH: I like revolutionaries, because they are the moving forces, for right or wrong, they change things. Without revolutionaries, the world would be a very dull place…

The last one was the great proletarian culture revolution, I’m sure you’ve heard much about, and caused quite an upheaval to the country. In fact, when Deng Xiaoping was interviewed by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci, Fallaci asked him how many communist members were killed during that revolution. He said, ah, just waved, so many, don’t even ask. Even I don’t know how many. So she said, well, it couldn’t be as many as Stalin. Oh, no, no, no. We killed more. We killed more. So communists, not other people, so it’s important to remember Khrushchev’s 20th Party Congress mentioned thousands and thousands of loyal party members were killed during Stalin’s rule.

This is the reason why I purposely have this poster, hoping that people who are really dedicated to revolutionary causes would come and meet me, because I have put in a lot of thoughts behind revolution.

Yes, revolution is important. The world cannot stand still. We must change. We must move forward. Furthermore, I like revolutionaries, because they are the moving forces, for right or wrong, they change things. Without revolutionaries, the world would be a very dull place to live in.

BERNIE YOH: This is the word, the characters for revolution in Chinese. Ge Ming. … Ge is improvement. Ming is life. So it means improvement of life. So, to a Chinese, a revolution is always good.

But, on the other hand, too many times, revolutionaries are blinded by their emotion or romantic ideas. Yes, revolutionaries are always romantic. That is a foregone conclusion. Yet, you cannot let romanticism totally control your mind and your judgment. You’ve got to understand that you have to have an objective. What is the objective for the revolution? Number one. Number two, the process. How to achieve the revolution? With what kind of operation, methodology? Third, in final result, whether, in accordance with original objective or whether it can be a reversal? It would be a sad thing if the end result is totally the reverse of the original thing. And this is why it’s so important today to evaluate, to understand the past, because only with the past we learn where do we go for the future.

When we talk about revolution, most people immediately start thinking the term of revolution of which Marx, Lenin started, and Mao. And it’s understandable, because they are truly promoters of revolution. They’d go around anxiously, actively promote revolution. And yet, how many people actually involved in the revolutionary movement of Marxism-Leninism truly understand what Marxism-Leninism means? Very few.

I, for one, spent the last forty years studying the total concept of Marx, Lenin and Mao, because, unless you understand it, you cannot be for it or against it, because you don’t know about it.

Nothing comes by accident. Marx’s revolution is a big revolution. No joke about it. I carry this around all the time. [Holds up book.] I carry this, oh, this is the third copy. In fact, other copies are worn out. Why is this so powerful, that today one third of our human race is living under this system? Full one third. 1.6 billion people. Oh yes, you’ve heard of China being, changing toward capitalism, whatever you want to call it, freemarket system, but repeatedly the government has reiterated that our system is based on Marx, Lenin, Mao, even Stalin. They’re still, the Chinese communists are still Stalinists.

As he often did, Bernie advertised this campus appearance with a flyer touting himself as “Shing Tzu,” a “life-long revolutionary fighter,” speaking on the topic of “World Peace Through World Revolution.” Shing Tzu was, in fact, Bernie’s true Chinese name, and the revolution he promoted was the American Revolution, as enshrined in our founding documents. The idea was to attract leftist students and try to convert them.

The most powerful phrase right there. Marx said, “but communism abolishes eternal truth. It abolishes all religion and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis. It therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.” (2)

In contradiction to all past historical experience. Which means we have nothing to measure it with. Nothing of past we can use to measure what communism is.

Abolishing eternal truth. Stop and think. To what is eternal truth? Laws of nature. Abolish. All religions. What does it mean? Frontal declaration of war against God.

Don’t say he’s not bold. He is. Very bold. No other ideology in the past has ever gone that far. You have people with different beliefs, even atheism, who do not believe, but not [unclear] said, abolish it!

And all morality. No morality.

Interesting enough, Lenin, before he died, he was rather disillusioned. He said this proletarian morality we talk so much about, I don’t see it. In fact, right now, I would have any morality, even bourgeois morality, than no morality at all. It’s interesting he made this statement. It was in the Lenin’s work, 43rd or 44th volume. He wrote 45 volumes this thick. Um, very interesting. He was disillusioned. (3)

But he was a lucky one. He was really the last of the Russian revolutionaries. Have you ever heard of Bukharin? Never heard of him, huh? Oh, was he a big shot. Marshall, creator of the Red Army! Bukharin. What happened to him? Bang. Executed. By communists, not others. Zinoviev. Have you ever heard that name? Zinoviev? Big shot. Wow. Was he important. Tortured to death. Tukhachevsky. Do you know who Tukhachevksy, Marshall Tukhachevsky was? Tukhachevsky was the military leader put down the, first, staged a coup, took the power from the Mensheviks for the Bolsheviks, then he put down the rebellion in 1928. Twenty-eight. 1939 he was executed. Yes. Who was the last comrade of Lenin? Who? The very last one? Trotsky, of course. Yes, he escaped to Mexico. He was in hiding. Do you think they can let him live? No, because he was a revolutionary. Descended, a Spaniard, I think. Ramon, his name was, his first name was Ramon, killed with an ice hatchet. Chopped him up. This Ramon is in Soviet Union right now. He’s alive, after release from jail in Mexico.

It’s a strange revolution. When you win is when you die. Yeah. Every one of them. Oh, the list is long. Yeah.

Yet, there’s another revolution nobody talks about. And what revolution is that? The revolution that made this meeting possible. Here I am, a man from China, come to this campus in California, to talk about revolution. Where is the CIA or FBI man sitting here taking notes or record what I have to say tonight? None. Prohibited by law to watch me or anybody else to talk about revolution. Revolt! Rise up! World revolution yet! Why? Have we ever stopped to think what gives this country such tremendous amount of, whatever you want to call it, freedom, liberty, uh, license, even, whatever. What? Revolution again!

This is the biggest revolution the world has ever had. It’s 200 years old, and yet nobody understands the basic principles of this revolution. That’s what’s wrong with it. Americans don’t understand America. In fact, six months ago, I was invited to Louisiana to give a speech. Precisely, the title was “What makes America tick?” That one, I got paid for it. I got paid $2500 for that speech.


Yeah. And precisely I was up there telling five, six hundred Americans what makes America tick. The reason is, you were born here, you take things for granted. When you have something, any restriction, you get very unhappy. Oo, my freedom! My privacy! You go outside of this country, even across the border to Canada, do you realize during that peak of the separatist movement in the province of Quebec, the Canadian police raided families at 3 o’clock in the morning and, to search for the separatist leaders and so on? Yeah. Anytime there’s some threat happening, they do a lot of things.

England, one of the original human rights, human freedom authority, came down from the Magna Carta, took power from the king. They have secrecy act. A newsman like Stan Atkinson cannot go on the air and say everything and anything he wants. There are certain things, military things, unavailable. Many things during war, they have a 30-year seal, so you have to wait 30 years to get freedom of information, to shake loose other documents. Yes.

Thirty-nine years ago, I arrived in this country, midnight, I arrive in San Francisco. The very maiden flight of Chinese nationalist airline.

When you arrive in San Francisco at midnight, it’s quite interesting, very impressive. I walked down the street, watched the people.

I’d been abroad before. I wasn’t, I was in Europe when I was a teenager. And I guess after being a guerrilla, you have an extra sense of your surroundings, good or bad.

And that night, when I walked on the street of San Francisco, I sensed there’s something very mysterious to me about this country, something, there’s magic in the air. And I said to myself, I must find out what that magic is. The secret what makes America tick, because, I’m sure you realize, the Chinese are the most chauvinistic people in the world. We think the entire world revolves around us. That’s why China we call Zhong Guo, the country of the center. So, as a Chinese, as a chauvinist, I thought, if I could steal the secret, what makes America tick, and take it back to China, we’ll have China the most powerful, the richest country in the world, because we know, everybody knows Chinese are smarter than anybody else.


So that night, I vowed that’s what I want to do. I tried. I went to everywhere, tried to find out, asked learned professors, Harvard, Yale, Columbia, well-known people. Fortunately, I have a lot of friends, a lot of channels, I could utilize to get the entreé to these learned scholars. But they gave me a blank look. What do you mean, what makes America work? We have a two-party system. Three branches of government. We have a Constitution. You know, that’s why. And then, when you push any further, I’d say, if I take all this, two-party system, three branches and everything else, and the Constitution, to China, would it work, would it have the same result? They look at me and say, but you’re not American.

So, well, so I couldn’t find out what makes America tick. But I don’t give up. Never give up. I put it on the back burner and did my things. But still always keep an eye on watching. At the same time, I studied, what makes Marxism tick? What makes Lenin’s revolution result in this situation? I’m sure Lenin did not want Russian people to go through what they actually went through, the amount of suffering and death and so on.

One day, many many years later, as a matter of fact, it was 1963, after our meeting, I guess [gesturing toward someone in the back, possibly Stan Atkinson], I was asked a very strange request. A country was, they had an upheaval. They needed a new constitution and they asked me if I would help them to do some research for a new Constitution.

So I went to the Library of Congress and the National Archives, since I live in Washington, and trying to do some research. I spent three days, used up about two or three yellow pads. At that time, there were 103 nations in the world. Now we have more.

It was very interesting. I found that the smaller the country, the bigger the words they use in their official documents. In fact, I found this interesting thing, that the Soviet constitution is not a bad constitution at all. They actually include the American First Amendment into the constitution itself, which, in effect, makes it even stronger, that the personal liberties, the religious freedom, assembly, expression, is to be guaranteed. Did you know that, by any chance? In Soviet? It’s in the constitution itself.

Only one part in the constitution I didn’t like. It says, since the Soviet Union is dedicated to the workers, those who do not work do not eat. Oh, that’s right in the constitution. You know, I’m a lazy guy. Sometimes I don’t feel like working, so I, you know, it’s not a good thing.

Many interesting things happen in the research. Then, in the afternoon, it was an April day, interesting, and Washington, if you’ve been to Washington, you know there are only few days in the spring and few days in the autumn that it’s absolutely beautiful. Other days, it’s either cold, wet or hot and terrible.

Now that happened on one of those days, and I was walking out of the National Archive, and there, it was the Constitution of the United States, framed, original, and I looked at it. I walked up to the document and I said, what is your secret? I talk to documents as well as people and animals. It looked at me and said, you know, three, four years for the presidency and six years for the Senate, very cold, mechanical, no warmth. Ah, okay, sorry, you don’t want to tell me your secret.

So I was going out someplace and then I felt sort of a strange feeling, some hand was pulling me back on this side. There were two sides. I turned around and looked, ah, I know you. Declaration of Independence. Every Fourth of July, I hear you on the radio, on television, somebody be reciting it. I know about you, good-bye. Thank you.

No, that is, somehow, I had to pull back. I looked at it and there was a fancy “W” to start with. When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands that connect with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth the equal but separate stations to which the laws of nature and nature’s God entitle them. You know, it’s strange, that here is a document that comes right out, says the laws of nature and nature’s God.

Suddenly I realize what I’m reading is something that is so totally different. Remember this? Karl Marx declared, abolishes eternal truths. Karl Marx abolishes natural law, the laws of nature. Thomas Jefferson said, “In accordance with the laws of nature and Nature’s God.” Strange.

But still it was the language, that it’s so pleasing, so unpretentious. I said that’s nice. And then I looked further, another W, we believe these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that, endowed by their Creator, with certain inalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Ah! Endowed by their Creator. What does it mean? That men are created, the rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness does not come from the government, or from the party, or from anybody else. It’s given to men by God. What a difference does it make, that somehow that day I realized the fundamental difference of this, as just a simple political document, and a collective dedication. Interesting [unclear].

Only in America, if you are an atheist, you are an atheist, genuine atheist, you are free to do so. More than that, of course, in California, we have all kinds of Satan’s temples and you want to worship Devil? Go ahead. Go to the Devil. You have freedom to do so.

Strange because, as a nation, collectively, you recognize that men are created by God. Is that strange? The collective dedication and the personal freedom? The Soviet Union, their little communism, their party is basically neutral, atheistic, and yet, do you realize, in Soviet Union, you are not truly atheist, because you have to believe in atheism. When you’re forced to believe anything, that belief is not real. It’s not yours. Because you are, under the system, you have to, unless you are an atheist, you cannot join the Communist Party. If you’re not a member of the Communist Party, you cannot get good jobs. You cannot even enter college. Can you imagine?

Unless, in Soviet Union, there really is only one college, one university, Moscow University. All my friends came from Moscow University, the ones that defected, those are the ones that exposed to what the world is like.

Vasily, I talked to just, he’s in Washington today. Unfortunately, I missed him. Vasily is a kid, 22 years old. Bright. Straight-A student. Moscow University. He was so good in languages. He speaks fluent English and fluent Korean. And because of that he was sent to Korea as an exchange student.

He studied in the Pyongyang University for four months and the minute he had the chance, he was a tourist on DMZ on the 38th parallel and when he saw there wasn’t anybody looking, he made a mad dash across the border. The North Korean soldiers started shooting at him, and the South Koreans shot back, killed two North Korean soldiers. That was quite a gun battle. And that guy, he must be a pretty good runner. He zig-zagged. There wasn’t a scratch on him. (4)

And we’re good friends now. He comes to visit me. He’s in Harvard, at the Ph.D. program. That shows you how bright the guy was, is. He went to, took a course, he didn’t want to be dependent on anybody. He took a course in refrigeration. And he has a job. Now he takes care of the Marriott Hotels, all their cooling plants and everything else. He is working full time and taking his Ph.D. course at night and so on. Really quite a guy. And I learned awful lot from him.

He was the first guy I ever met that actually spent time in North Korea. It’s a sort of forbidden place. It’s surely more mysterious to me than the moon, because I’ve never met anybody from North Korea. And he told me many interesting things, such as, in North Korea, people eat meat four times a year, only four times, and once, the most important one, you get more, most of the meat is on the president’s birthday. That day, you get more meat than any other day. He said the place was so terrible that even makes Soviet Union look like paradise. It’s that bad. So it’s very interesting.

So, you know, when you stop and think and compare, America is very special, unique place. But unfortunately people don’t understand it. You have to understand, because if you don’t understand what makes it run, without knowing it, you may lose it. And when you face an adversary like communism, an ideology, you also have to know it. If you don’t know it, you may fall into the trap, you may just get fooled, and unfortunately not enough people understand that basic revolution of Marx, Lenin and, today, Gorbachev, and the revolution of Jefferson, Lincoln, and today Ronald Reagan’s. He is a worthy custodian of those principles. He’s trying his best to fulfill that revolution.

And, as an example why this country is truly a revolutionary country, a couple months ago, we celebrated the birthday of Martin Luther King, and he was the only revolutionary in recent times. He revolted against the system. He violated his local laws by marching, by end up being put in jail. He revolted. And yet, what happened? He didn’t get killed. He didn’t get tortured. He was honored as a hero.

That’s why I particularly am interested in talk about this subject, because I want you people, young people, to realize what a magnificent revolution your founding fathers created, and today, only by sharing the same revolution, where people of other countries, all over the world, that we can have peace.

Can you imagine if Russian people, Chinese people, Polish people, Cuban people, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Bulgarians, Albanians, can freely travel and talk to you, students, like this kid Vasily, he’s such a delightful person, and exchange ideas? No more nuclear war. No people want to fight, want to kill, want to suffer. War is hell! I’ve been through too many of them. I was there because I had to. The honor of being a free person is at stake. That’s why I fought. Sure. I had to. That’s what makes you an honorable human being.

When Vietnam was threatened, yes, I went to Vietnam, between 1955 and ’66. I spent a lot of time in that country. Because I knew then that if we don’t help them, misery will go on the people. (5)

A lot of people didn’t believe that. Vietnam was under Chinese occupation for 1000 years, under French colonialism for 100 years, under Japanese occupation during World War II, then during civil war, you’ve heard about these horrible American bombs with napalm. The Vietnamese people did not leave. There were no boat people. Only when the communists took over.

Their own people, Vietnamese for the first time, after more than a thousand years, Vietnamese people was run the country. Peace. Except that they went and invaded Cambodia. That’s another thing. Cambodia did not invade Vietnam. And the people left. Leaky boats. Estimate, probably half didn’t make it.

The first time the boat people arrived in Washington, I took the family to Chinese restaurant and talked to them. This lady who was a schoolteacher, I said what makes you, made you leave in that leaky boat? I said, did you expect to make it here to the United States? No. I expected to die on the sea. Well, why did you do it? She said, simple. It’s better to die in a quick death on the sea than die slowly under communism. So, it’s not one person, two persons. Thousands.

Remember when Cuba opened up a little bit? Whoosh! Boat people again. Boat people. Thousands start to fled.

In fact, there was a joke circulating around Moscow. Brezhnev asked Andropov, hey, what’s this I heard that many many peoples going to America? Andropov, you know who he was, the secret policeman, he says, oh yeah, Castro said anyone who wants to leave can go, he said, to get rid of the bad elements. So that’s why they went. And Brezhnev said, hey, that seems like a good idea. Let’s do that too. Let’s say anyone who wants to leave can go. Andropov said, no, no, we can’t do that. You see, if you do that, you and I would be the only people left. Brezhnev said, speak for yourself.


Yeah. Of course, you heard that the hospital, in front of a hospital, a huge line and it’s asked why this line. Oh, he said, a lot of people, all men, no women. What’s, how come? Oh, they asked to be circumcised, because they heard that the Jews are allowed to leave. You hear that one?


Those all came from Soviet Union, those stories. This is why I paid my own fare. I left Washington this morning to come here, to speak to you about world peace through world revolution, because I believe it. Because only through freeing the people, those Russian people, those Ukrainians, those Estonians, Latvians, those Poles, Romanians, Bulgarians.

And, of course, people of Afghanistan. They really deserve support. Your support. They are fighting every day. Dying. Mercilessly. Those are just great people. I know.

In fact, a young student of Georgetown University, handsome, smart, in fact, the last thing he did, he cooked me a terrific Afghan dinner, with those huge bread, Afghan, delicious Afghan bread, and he said goodbye, I’m going back to fight. I said hey, no, you’re too valuable here, you know, talk to American people, you’re so intelligent, speak perfect English, I said. No, no. I must do my duty, like my countrymen, my family, they all fighting. He went back. He was killed.

So yes, I want you to dedicate yourself to the cause of freedom, revolution. Only when we can talk truly, people to people, with people, Russia, China, Cuba and Nicaragua.

I’m sure you’re flooded with talk about Nicaragua and the contras. How many people told you that the so-called contras were formerly anti-Somoza rebels? Every one of them! Yes. I know so many of them. As a matter of fact, Charity, one of these days, if I have the chance, I’ll see if I can arrange her, for her to come and speak to you here. She was a Maryknoll nun, married, left the order, married a Nicaraguan in the movement, for the labor movement. Fought against Somoza, way back before the Sandinistas got into the picture, and today they’re living in Miami trying to raise a little money to help fight against the Marxist-Leninists.

So, young people, the world is yours. I had a great life, you know, fighting isn’t all bad. Sometimes you can have fun, too. I’ve been around the world many many times, seeing many great things and involved with many causes, but your future, it’s your world. Remember.

Until you can freely communicate with people, it’s the most controlled item in Soviet Union is what? Huh? Copying machine. Yes! A Xerox machine. Every sheet is registered.

[phonetic: LEZNIEFF] Cellist. Great! Moscow Symphony cellist. He’s a friend of mine. He comes to my house to play all the time, you know, I start as a musician, that’s another story altogether. He said only in Soviet Union the musicians have to copy every part by hand today. Can you imagine? You know, Xerox machine, I don’t care about for anybody else, for musician, it’s Godsent. You know, you just put the, your big score underneath and just click the button. First volume, second volume, oboe, cello, bassoon, tympany, you know [unclear], in no time you can, whole orchestra, all copied. By hand, every sheet of paper.

Do you know, well, most of you don’t know. There is such thing called mimeograph machine. You know, have you ever heard of that? You know, with the hand, wax paper, you can write or you can type on it. You cannot find it in Soviet Union. Can you imagine?

So, please. Keep that in mind. It’s your world. Until 1.6 billion people, 25 nations are free to determine for their own fate, I don’t think we have much of a future either.

I can go on this, you know, on and on, I never stop.

You might have some questions. You can ask me any question you like. If I can answer, I’ll be glad to answer, and if I can’t, I’ll fake it.

[Bernie writes contact info on chalkboard.]

You can call me anytime. You can write to me, if you want to. But I don’t write very often, so don’t get too mad at me if I don’t answer you right away. Yeah.

Q. Well, I was one of the boat people [unclear] Cambodia. My question is…

Yoh: Am I right? About Vietnam?

Q. Uh, yeah.

YOH: Okay.

Q. My question is, since one of the things communism is known for is the violation of human rights, and if you’re fighting against communism, should we, is it justified for us to use the same brutal tactics?

Yoh: No. No, absolutely not. The question is, because the communists are always violating human rights, can we have certain leeway, sort of do little bit something that’s not too good, in fighting them?

No, absolutely not.

In order to fight against evil, we’ve got to first, to be absolutely on the side of the good. Otherwise, it would be evil against evil, and end up just a big mess.

No, we have to strictly stick to our principles of whatever we consider moral, ethical and legal. We must never, never, never compromise.

As a matter of fact, the most important part of this revolution is not with military means or violence or anything like that. It’s the mind. The communist power, they use force, yes, but the most important part of their success is to use the penetration of the mind, utilize the intellectuals.

In fact, one editor of a paper in Saigon, I gave a speech in Saigon in 1956, and I still have the Vietnamese newspaper, and, in that speech, I said, if this country ever falls into the communist hands, it’s your fault, because you are the transmitter of information. You can make or break this young government.

And I was there. And an editor came out and he was fighting mad, he wants to fight communism. He came to my office and he saw this article, and he asked me, how many times did you give this speech? I said once. You know, what do you expect? Ah-ha, it’s your fault. You should have given this speech every week, every week, at least once a week. Then we will learn. You see, I didn’t know that you gave this speech.

So he blamed me for losing the country. But it’s interesting. As a matter of fact, another editor, I saw him on the street one day and he was quietly, I didn’t recognize him. He said, Mr. Yoh, you know, very quiet. I turned around, say yes? And tears ran down his eyes. He said I remember your speech. You warned us. We didn’t listen to you. He said now we lost our country.

So that’s my address. That’s my telephone number. I have an open door policy, open phone policy. Anybody can call me.

In fact, the Soviet embassy, a couple times, KGB guys called, walked right in, said I’m from Soviet embassy. So what else is new, I said. What do you want? You want to defect?


Oh no, oh no. Very funny. So…


Okay, any other questions? Yes.

Q. Just quickly, because I know we hear a lot of arguments about the Third World, how they can’t really have the same democracy we have. I guess you disagree with that, and I was wondering how you would respond to those arguments.

YOH: Look, one thing I’ve learned in my travels, in my association with all kinds of people, we, people are the same. There is no difference. People like the same things. That’s why Coca Cola is so popular. Okay? You know, hamburgers. Even Kentucky chicken. I can make a better chicken than Kentucky, but, still, it’s Kentucky Chickens in Tokyo, everywhere.

See, people are the same. So whatever works in one country should work in the other. But of course Americans should not transplant the form of the government. The Vietnamese like to have their own form. Same principles. The Chinese would probably end up, you know, the principle, men are created by God.

As a matter of fact, I can go further. The one part of the Declaration says, whenever any form of government can become destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundations on such principals and organizing its powers in such form that to them seem most likely to effect the safety and happiness. Whew!

Do you know you Americans can alter or abolish your government? Can you imagine? This is the reason why it took the Congress ten years, eleven years, to come up with a constitution. It’s so difficult to, it’s such a revolutionary idea. It’s almost impossible to come up with a constitution. Finally, when they dickered and finally come up with a constitution, and then, even then, the people said, wait a minute. It doesn’t say anything about guarantee, how far the government can go, how far the government cannot go. So what happened? They put in Ten Amendments to the constitution.

Some people call the Ten Amendments the Bill of Rights. Wrong! It’s a misnomer. There was never any mention of Bill of Rights in the discussions and debates. You know why? Because the Ten Amendments to the constitution is to restrict the power of the government. See? That’s the most fantastic thing.

Now, just imagine, the Declaration of Independence is the power center, like the engine. So they have to build a vehicle around the engine to make it work, make it a vehicle. All right? So they build the body, the vehicle, so then, wait a minute. Here’s a vehicle. But what makes you think that the vehicle will go the direction the people want? Ah ha! They put in ten amendments.

See, the ten amendments, it’s clearly stated that, for all intent and purposes, it should be construed as, considered a part of the Constitution. Yet, if it’s part of, why not stick in the Constitution? Why did you put an amendment? Very interesting.

Because the motion, you see, the vehicle is supposed to go forward. And the Ten Amendments is a steering and brake mechanism, to stop the vehicle. The only Constitution ever written by man that has a braking system. The Ten Amendments are not really guaranteeing the people freedom, no. Guaranteeing the people how they can stop the government. A lot of people don’t understand that.

A lot of Europeans come here and one day I was talking to a French journalist. She was pooh-poohing ideas. America is crazy. You know, everybody can have a gun. Bang-bang, shoot up the place. I say, you don’t understand. I said, do you know why the Second, why the Second Amendment, immediately after the First Amendment, freedom of religion, freedom of this, freedom of that, immediately Second Amendment, people’s right to bear arms is not to be abridged, why? She says, why?

It’s easy to say the people have the right to alter or abolish a government. You try it, try it without guns. See? The Founding Fathers gave the people’s right to have arms so that if, in case, some rightwing, leftwing, doesn’t matter, take over in Washington, declare that martial law, like Marcos did twelve years ago. So, what do you do? Ha-ha! How many millions Americans own weapons? Yeah, okay. So? How long can you control? See? The Founding Fathers, every item, is very carefully weighed, and these Ten Amendments is a, it’s a fantastic document.

That’s why recently fifteen editors from different countries sponsored by the different papers visited Washington and the Fletcher School of Diplomacy arranged to send them to me, my office, for me to brief them on the Constitution and the Amendments and so on, and I, right on the back, I asked them, most of every country, practically every country has a sacred document. How many documents America has which are considered sacred? One, two, no, three! Three parts. Declaration of Independence. Constitution. And the Ten Amendments. Absolutely marvelous.

You had a question.

Q. Did you, as a warrior and revolutionary, did you ever read the Art of War when you were fighting?

YOH: Who?

Q. Sun Tzu.

YOH: Oh, Sun Tzu. Oh sure. As a matter of fact, at War College, I was lecturer on Sun Tzu. But it’s very difficult. Once I got carried away. One line took me the whole period, the whole, to explain one single line. It’s very difficult.

As a matter of fact, one of the interesting things in my study is that Mao Tse-Tung really never truly understood Marxism, because the Chinese language, he was a monolinguist, he did not, could not read or understand any other language, so he read Marx only in Chinese translation.

So parts of it actually were comical, because he was explaining the principles of contradiction. What he was talking about was polarity. It wasn’t contradiction at all. The positive and negative are poles. He went on and on and wrote the whole piece on it, and there was, he didn’t even understand Marxism, because the linguistic barrier, he couldn’t cross, you see.

In fact, that was one of the interesting, on this campus, are there any revolutionary communist party movements, the Maoist movement? Are there any here? There’s some in mid West.

As a matter of fact, once I had a young woman complain to Accuracy in Media, you know, we take complaints about the media problems and so on. They had accused them of doing something which they didn’t do, so she called me up to complain about it, and then I said sure, so I took it up seriously and explained to the radio stations, the newspapers, that this group did not do it. Another Maoist group, Revolutionary Workers Party, did it. And so I think you should make a correction. And so they did.

She was so surprised. She said, I heard your organization is a rightwing organization, and you took my complaint seriously. You treated me, you know, like properly and so on. I’m confused.

I said, why not? Our organization is called Accuracy in Media, and there was an inaccuracy. You were accused of something you didn’t do. So I just got them to straighten it out. Gee, you know, that’s just curious. Can I come and see you? Of course, I have an open-door policy. So she came.

She’s a representative, she’s on the top echelon, a Revolutionary Communist Party member. And she, we talked about an hour and a half and she was fascinated by my explanation how Mao doesn’t understand class struggle and the contradiction. And this lady was trained in China for nine months. I didn’t ask her what she learned there, all kinds of explosive-making and terrorist activities. You know, good thing Gadaffi didn’t get hold of her.


Pretty well trained. But anyhow, she was fascinated, and so we talked about an hour and a half. Finally, she said, oh, I’ve gotta go. And so she said, oh it was just [unclear]. Before she left, I say, hey, wait a minute, I said, where else can you go? You can promote your revolution here. They have a bookstore in downtown Washington, a small little place, but can you go to Albania? No, no, no. Can’t go to Albania. Of course you can’t go back to China. Oh no, no. The Gang of Four will lock me up. I say, you never could go to Moscow, can you? No, no. Couldn’t go to Moscow. So you have no place. None of your brother socialist places you can go. No. Can’t go anywhere.

So I said you better hope you don’t win, because, after you win, you can’t even stay here, can you? She stop and, never thought of it. And she was dumbfounded. [unclear] blink her eyes and [unclear]. I said, hey, you better join my revolution. She said your revolution? Yeah. I said my revolution. When I succeed, you can preach exactly as you’re preaching now. In Moscow, Peking, Tirana, everywhere else. Wouldn’t that be better? She never thought of that. You know, if the world is free, naturally, she can go to Moscow and talk. That’s when Russians are free.

She walked out like a zombie. Couldn’t hear it. Didn’t say goodbye. She walked out. Six months later, her name was dropped from that list of the masthead. I kind of miss her. I liked her. You know. Wish she would call me again.

Any other questions? Anything at all. You, here.

Q. [Female voice] How many years [unclear] Sandinista government in Nicaragua and who do you consider to be the revolutionaries there?

YOH: In fact, the grandson of Sandino, the original hero, was in my office two months ago. He denounced the Sandinista government. He said they’re not following the true spirit of Sandino. When they’re in, got a little power, they shake head. Anything you ask them, they say no. When they get full power, they cut head. Three heads.

Q. [Same woman] Well, it seems like there is a lot, their speaker was on campus this last week [unclear], and he said that they are not really Marxist-Leninist, that they have, they follow certain communistic principles, but they also have a lot of private property ownership and other things, and also from other sources, I’ve heard that that’s just sort of a rumor that’s being taken up that, because, in this country, you say that word Marxist-Leninist and it starts scaring people when they don’t really understand what that means, and I’m just confused as to what the basis is for saying that the government is [unclear].

YOH: No need. People like Humberto Belli, people like Baldizon, who was the Interior Minister’s chief lieutenant, Baldizon. Stan, did you have, do you have that Baldizon booklet? Uh, pardon? He testified in Congress, what he was, with his passport, everything. Pictures. He was a very important man, in Interior Department. He testified in Congress here. He said he had just had enough. He couldn’t take it anymore. All the undercurrents, all the dirty dealings. No, the person who spoke to you on behalf of the Sandinistas is not telling the truth. They cannot, because…

Q. [Same woman] You would say that government is corrupt?

YOH: It’s more than corrupt. Corrupt, you know, it’s probably a part of human nature to be corrupt. It’s a systematic, totally programmed terror, control and annihilation. People, ah, you’ve heard of My Lai, right? What happened? Americans killed 100, 200. How many of you ever heard of the Hue Massacre?

The city of Hue was the old imperial capital, at one time. At Tet Offensive, in January, end of January, February, they, the North Vietnamese unit occupied the city of Hue. It’s spelled H-U-E, with a hyphen. For 26 days, 7,000 people disappeared. Slowly they dug up 4,000 bodies. Many of them were buried alive. Uh, even three German, West German missionary, medical missionary people were buried alive. We, I have photographs of those people. And yet, the world never heard of it. It was absolutely clearly documented. You know that, don’t you? [Gesturing toward Stan Atkinson]. (6)

ATKINSON: [unclear]

YOH: It was not. Yes. Have you ever seen our PBS, our movie on Vietnam? We did a counter-documentary called Vietnam: The Real Story. Charlton Heston narrated it. (7)

ATKINSON: [unclear]

YOH: Ha-ha-ha. Okay. We have two sections. One is called Impact of Media. You will like it. In fact, listen, let me tell you, we are so busy doing other things like the television and the news programs, we never dreamed that we would get into a motion picture production. But it was the Vietnamese here, in Texas, in California, in Washington. They came and petitioned. I still have two boxes of petitions in my office. They said please do something. You’re the only people can do something, we, you know, it’s a disgrace how they use only North Vietnamese propaganda. Also there was important part in it too, that North Vietnamese all the good guys, the South Vietnamese are the corrupt, you know, all the bad guys. There’s a slight touch of racism in there too. The North Vietnamese against the South Vietnamese. The good guys are in the north, the south, ah. Well. Yes.

Q. [male voice] Is the new Chinese policy of moving toward capitalism, is that long-lived or do you see that only as an experiment? Or will that be a [unclear].

YOH: What’s, okay, what’s important. Your question is whether, about the Chinese policy, whether it’s long-lasting or not. The problem is how the people view it. I’ve talked to a lot of people, students, and so on, in this country now. See, you’ve got to have a system or government that the people can trust. Mao, after he created his socialism in China, he has been twisted back and forth many times. One day he said let hundred flower bloom, and once you start saying a few words, he had them all arrested. Ah-ha, those are rightists. That’s what I want to find out. You see? So he went back and forth so many times, so the people don’t trust their government at all. What they’re doing now is, a good American phrase, make hay while the sun shines. So the people are working to profit themselves. They don’t think about future. They say anytime the government can change policy and we’ll be back, you know, where we started. So there is no support to any policy. They just do their own thing. And that’s what’s going on. There’s no saving, no trying to build anything. Yes, Dan.

ATKINSON: You know, the ethical premises that you talk about here are fine, but, for the students, I think, they, for this young woman down here, it’s difficult to sort out, you know [unclear] if you accept that our system works better than the Soviet system, that’s fine. But how does it relate to what’s going on in Nicaragua? How can you deal with people who come to campus and represent themselves on behalf of the Sandinistas or on behalf of the country? I mean, how can you make as an individual an intelligent choice about where your support should be? That’s really the crux of what she’s asking, and I think the Vietnamese gentleman was kind of saying some of the same thing. I mean, we can see them as evil, but are we treading with the possibilities of evil by being, as characterized by those who are pro-Sandinista, the big bully who’s trying to beat up on little Nicaragua?

Yoh: Well…

ATKINSON: [unclear]

YOH: True.

ATKINSON: [unclear]

YOH: Thanks, Dan, for interpreting, because, yeah. It’s a valid point. Very important. I guess the only thing to do is to reach out for information, as much as possible. The information is available. Like I said, the documents about the Sandinista defectors and so on. These things, in my office, it’s piled up all over the place. But, you know, to spread this around is another thing altogether.

Tyrone, where are you? Right here. I’m sorry, you’re too close. I’ll tell you what. I’ll send as much material as possible to you, and you make it available to anybody who wants to start with us and you say 20 or 30 copies of that Baldizon document. He, with his passport and everything, he is absolutely genuine, the man. He said the Sandinista government even sends soldiers in Contra uniform to commit atrocities and to blame it on the Contras. Now here’s a man from the inside, testifying to that. So, I mean, anytime anyone wants any, yeah.

Q. [male voice] I want to say something about the…

YOH: Sure.

Q. …[unclear] Nicaragua. I think that the United States has made [unclear] accusations against the Sandinista government, and that’s the United States’s justification to support the Contras. But I think [unclear]. Yet the real conflict is that we do not tolerate communism [unclear] and I think that that is the real war, is against communism. It’s not what they do. They just do not tolerate communism, and that is the responsibility of the United States and of the free world.

YOH: Well, that’s also understandable, right? For the safety and security of the United States.

A friend of mine, who is a motion picture producer, asked me one day, someone asked her to make a special documentary on El Salvador and asked me why should I do it? And I explained to her, what’s the difference between right-wing dictator and left-wing dictator?

At that time, 1980, the situation in El Salvador was very, very messy. And I explained to her this way. A right-wing dictator, so-called, non-communist dictator, yes, it’s evil too. All dictators, I call it, it’s like a tumor. It’s an unhealthy growth. But you’ve got to be sure that one tumor is malignant, the other is not.

In a sense, the non-communist dictators are non-malignant tumors. Once they are removed, they usually, you know, quick look at Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, how many countries, so-called rightwing dictators, now turn democratic? That’s one thing.

And another thing, none of the so-called right-wing dictators ever pose a threat to the United States. The government’s job is to secure for the American people, so it is their duty to safeguard. So when you have a Marxist-Leninist government so close to the border, it’s different from the Marxist-Leninist government over across the Pacific Ocean, security-wise.

There’s a third thing also. For the people there, a non-communist dictator usually is random. Nicaragua, for instance, Somoza was the agent for Mercedes-Benz. Now if you try to sell Cadillacs over there and put up too bad a competition, he’s going to make life miserable for you. It’s understandable.

You know, there’s another dictator, I forgot where, who is agent of Coca-Cola. Somebody tried to sell Pepsi-Cola there and he got thrown out. You know, you can understand that.

But normally, under those non-communist dictators, people usually can make a living, if you don’t open your mouth too much, you know, criticize the government too much, uh, you’re usually left alone. And another thing. If worst to worst, you can leave. Always. Only a communist dictatorship does not let people leave. It’s a strange phenomenon. I don’t know why. But they love to keep people. They always keep people there. There are people there, I don’t know why.

In fact, a man, what’s his name, who was kept there for 60 years, he came out not long ago. CBS did a documentary on him, “Coming out of the Ice.” He was a parachutist. His father was a Communist in Detroit. Took the whole family to join this great social experiment. American from Detroit. He died not long ago. Yes, sir. (8)

Q. [male voice] In reference to the [unclear] question on how to get good sources of information about what’s happening in Nicaragua. [unclear] source is the New Republic magazine. It’s had an ongoing debate for the last couple months. I found it rather interesting, where the magazine came out in favor of Reagan’s [unclear] aid to the Contras [unclear] and fourteen [unclear] of the contributing editors wrote him a letter opposing this policy and they had articles on both sides, and several people, Arturo Cruz, Jr. and several quite interesting comments and opinions in the New Republic, over the last couple months. I’d like to ask you about your comments on aid to the Contras and other overt or covert U.S. support for guerrilla movements. Does this represent [unclear] on the part of the United States [unclear] liberation, anti-communist liberation movements? What’s your view on that?

YOH: No. One thing. I’m not very fond of these leaders of the Contras. For one thing, they don’t have the experience as guerrilla fighters, and I don’t think they’re doing too good a job.

One thing about guerrilla fighters, you’re supposed to be totally, totally self-sufficient. When you depend on outside support, you’re not a real, true guerrilla. But having said that, the fact is, the Contras are serving a very useful purpose. Today, El Salvador is much better off. The government has a chance to slowly get their act together because the infiltration and direction, the support by the Sandinistas toward the rebels in El Salvador has slackened because of the Contra operation, and Guatemala also, for the first time in long time, Guatemala also is a democratic country, elected president, and the chance of Guatemala’s survival depends very very much on keeping the Sandinistas busy. So, if nothing else, just to bide time, the activities of the Contras are beneficial to the whole Central American situation.

One of the most dangerous places in Central America is Mexico. It’s a powder keg. And, in fact, not long ago, a Mexican came to see me and I asked him, why is your country so nearsighted? Why are you always helping the Soviets? And this guy is a very intelligent person. He asked me a question. Have you ever heard of El Aztlan? No, never heard of Aztlan. Aztlan happened to be a mythical empire of the Aztecs, that their empire includes, yes, California, includes New Mexico. It’s supposed to be all the way to the Utah border, this hunk of United States is supposed to be, that mythical empire, part of the Mexican Empire. Hitler made an overture to them. That’s why Mexico was neutral, but secretly helping the Nazis during World War II, because Hitler promised them when he wins, he’ll give that part of the United States to them, and the Soviet Union is making the same promise. So. Yes.

Q. [male voice] I’m from Mexico [unclear] Cortez. The way most people, and the way, since I’m very much aware of what goes on sometimes in the interior, as well as in Mexico, the people in Mexico are not unusually pro-Sandinista because there is a lack of information. There is a very tight control on the press.

YOH: Yeah.

Q. The single, the paper factory is controlled by the government, and whenever the government wants to stop the press, it simply stops the paper, [unclear] shipment of paper. But also, the government, I don’t know what the stance is by the government, but the government in Mexico is extremely oppressive and most people have been [unclear]. People are starting to rise up. In certain parts of Mexico, there are parts held by the communist rebels already.

YOH: I know.

Q. [unclear]

YOH: This man was explaining about that secret understanding of that elite, precisely that oppressive group you’re talking about. They secretly hope that the United States will lose, so that…

Q. [male voice] Also, to [unclear] Aztlan. I myself feel a certain, I don’t know, I’ll say a little bit of anger, because, as in any war, as in any invasion, each country can make certain, I mean, injustices, and even before that, even before, with the so-called Aztlan Empire…

YOH: Yeah. Did I pronounce it correct?

Q. Aztlan.

YOH: Aztlan. Yeah.

Q. [male voice] [unclear] Aztlan Empire. There exist certain documents from the Spanish colonial times [unclear] Mexican government, that guaranteed certain [unclear] land to the Mexican citizens which the United States should have honored, but they never did. There’s, you know, things can go either way.

YOH: Yeah.

Q. It’s just a difference of…

YOH: Yes, sir.

Q. Well, okay, I’d like to elaborate on that [unclear]. The way I see it, we stole land from Mexico, so I think I’d rather be over here than down there, so I guess I’m just glad the U.S. stole that land.

YOH: [Laughs] Yeah, actually, US didn’t have anything to do with it, because, at that time, you know, when under the French control, it was sort of a vague, Mex, Texas was, I guess, [unclear] Santa Ana, but anyhow, that part of history I’m not very familiar with.

Q. [another male voice] [unclear]

YOH: Sure. Yeah.

Q. [another male voice] [unclear] violations of human rights, and that has already been my big concern, because [unclear] revolution, because if you’re going to point the finger at [unclear], you’d better [unclear].

YOH: Yeah, okay. Yeah, all right. But the thing is this, yeah.

Q. [male voice] [unclear] violations of human rights was entirely [unclear]

YOH: Of course. And they have publicly announced it. The Contra leaders have announced it. We don’t believe in the violation of human rights. And they repeatedly said, before our soldiers go to battle, they attend Mass first, because they are religious people. They have made such statements, so, you know, uh…

Q. [male voice] [unclear] hundred million dollars aid [unclear]

YOH: Pardon?

Q. [male voice] [unclear] hundred million dollars aid [unclear].

YOH: If I have my way to operate things, I would do it quite differently, but, since I’m not running the show, I guess a little help for them will sustain them and keep the Sandinistas busy, so they won’t go to the neighbors and bother the neighbors, Salvador and Guatemala. Yes, sir.

Q. [another male voice] If you were running things, what would you do?

YOH: I would thoroughly retrain the Contras into a truly dedicated force and move very close into Managua. You see, the big thing, the thing is, there is a myth about guerrilla warfare. Che Guevara got killed because he believed in that myth that, in order to fight the guerrilla warfare, you gotta be in the countryside. Wrong.

The whole entire Second World War, I was in Shanghai. I was a commander. Never was I, well, I was in the field to direct battle, and then, after the battle was over, I went right back to Shanghai.

As a matter of fact, one of the biggest battle we won very nicely, after we finished, I was back in Shanghai, in Park Hotel, on the 14th floor, enjoying a dinner and, sitting not ten feet away from me was the Japanese admiral, having dinner right there.

And right in the middle of the dinner, his aide rushed in, saluted, and pull out the document. Here’s the document. [Imitates Japanese admiral making hissing noise]. My God! Because he lost his troops. We ambushed him and it just was tremendous loss. He didn’t even finish dinner. He went like this and told his aide to pay it and rushed out to go and check it, and he didn’t realize the person who commanded the operation was right behind him. So, uh, that’s how we operate the guerrilla warfare.

Q. [Male voice]

YOH: Pardon?

Q. [Same male voice] Did he leave a tip?

YOH: [Chuckles] I forgot. I left a good tip. See, at that time, one of the important things in these operations, you got to control everything.

For instance, in Shanghai, at that time, every diningroom, every cabaret, every nightclub, waiters, kitchen, and especially musicians, all under my control, and anytime there’s some activities, they would call me up and something is happening. So on. So you’ve got to know everything.

And Stan, remember, we, some musicians are here now, and we visit them and remember the good old days, we were fighting guerrilla warfare in Shanghai, the city of Shanghai.

So it’s part of the thing and, yes, you do tip. You have to tip pretty heavily too. [Chuckles]

On some occasions, when there’s a big festival, where you have a lot of Japanese officers and they drink heavily, and, it’s interesting, the Japanese, I don’t know why, they can’t hold drinks. After a few of them, they just wobble all over the place. And the busboys in those places are always my pickpockets. They’d go around and pick all the pockets and photograph all the documents and slip back again.

They told me it’s easy to pick them out, but to put it back, that takes a master touch. But we succeeded [unclear]. In fact, next to the pantry, we even set up a darkroom to develop the film, to see we got good documents or not, so that’s the way you operate, and that’s why guerrilla warfare is entirely different. Yes, sir.

Q. [male voice] [unclear] I’ve heard it said that there’s between four thousand, fifteen thousand Contras and, regular Sandinista Army, about 60,000 [unclear] 120,000. I’ve always wondered how the Contras fight with such limited funds. Are the Contras perhaps limited that no one wants to join an army that has no bullets? How did you, in China, fight [unclear]?

YOH: We had to load our own bullets, we load the cartridges, manufacture weapons. As a matter of fact, our arsenal was turning out, oh, twenty Mausers a day, and we, whenever we cut up a railroad track, that gives us a lot of supply of good steel, and when we blow up the locomotive, all kinds of pipes, all kinds of useful things on it.

But once, that big battle I told you about, was written up in Admiral Miles’ book called A Different Kind of War, but that one, we actually captured enough weapons to supply 20,000 soldiers. It was a very important weapon transport. (9)

You’ve got to learn how to be self-sufficient and one of the first things you do is manufacture and do with whatever you can get hold of.

In fact, that’s how I started to be an underground operator. I happened to be a collector of weapons, and I happened to know how to re-load them. I was the only person that I know of in the city of Shanghai knows how to reload cartridges.

And, you know, it’s very simple, all you have to do is, with the nail, hit the cap and blow the cap off and put another new cap in it and load it up with the right amount of powder, load another lead, piece of lead in it, and there you are. You got a bullet.

Especially if you have some nail polish, put it on the rim so that way you waterproof it. Oh yeah, nail polish is very very handy. As a matter of fact, nail polish also makes dandy explosive. Very powerful. It’s nitrite. Yeah. You didn’t know that, huh? In fact, hydrogen peroxide, bleach, makes a dandy explosive too.

Q. [male voice] [unclear] I just want to make one last point for the people of [unclear] and for the people of the United States. You seem to be trying to imply that the burden or fault of being sympathetic to communism lies on the government of Latin American nations. In part, I agree, but, in part, it’s also the fault of the U.S. foreign policy, because most Latin American nations, in fact, I’ll bet you’d say that all of them have a very deep anti-Yankee feeling.

YOH: Mm-hm.

Q. [same male voice] And that is nobody’s fault other than the United States. The United States does have a pretty stern foreign policy in the sense that it meddles too much. If you and your wife were having an argument, would you like somebody to come in and argue, you know, or to try to mediate when it’s something from the family?

So I think that’s a very inherent fault of U.S. foreign policy. [unclear] for the benefit of the people here, they should try to help, see how to help them solve their own problems, instead of going in and solving the problems for them. It’s just like telling me or you to [unclear].

YOH: That situation is quite a problem all over the world. That’s what happened to Vietnam. In fact, in 1965, when I went back to Vietnam with General Lansdale, I said to the people, “I’m no longer useful here, because the Americans came and they pushed the Vietnamese aside and said, “Hey, you guys, you don’t know how to do it, let me show you.” They just took over the war.

And I remember in Danang when the ships were unloading. It was an awesome sight. The machines were six stories high, you know, unloaded onto the docks. Huge helicopter carrying a little helicopter, you know, into the land. And the Vietnamese standing there with a little rifle, open their mouths, wow, why should I fight? Look at this, all this stuff. I go home. Really, it was really a very negative thing to do.

And I’m afraid the bureaucracy in Washington is pretty messy. I’ll tell you. I live there. I know. Every day, there’s something different, changing with the wind and so on. There is no policy, really. There was change of administration, change of Congress.

But one thing, though. The important thing about America, of this country, is it is constantly changing. And other countries, those countries who are locked in, frozen, and I do mean to use that word frozen. The Russian people who left Russia 30-40 years ago, when they go back again, they see nothing changed. Everything, the villages, everything, exactly the same.

My friend who is a doctor went back to the hospital he interned in. He said, on the wall, the little pencil mark he wrote on the wall, it’s still there. They didn’t even put a new coat of paint on the hospital. Everything’s frozen.

So if we just thaw the whole world, a third of our human race, out, that’s why I’m against keeping things status quo, because there’s nothing so wonderful that we should keep it as is now. There’s plenty of room for improvement. But one of the most important thing is that, if those people, that one third of human race is freed, we could finally avoid a nuclear war. That’s the bottom line.

HOST/TYRONE: Thank you very much.

YOH: Thank you.


HOST/TYRONE: Thank you all for attending. I just wanted to point out, we have an upcoming event which I think you all might find very interesting. Bernie was alluding to the Accuracy in Media video of the Vietnam War and the television coverage of it. We’ll have two distinguished professors on campus that know about Vietnam. One, professor Larry Berman, who’s written a book on Vietnam, who goes to conferences all over the United States discussing it. He’s critical of the war, and he’ll probably be critical of the Accuracy in Media video. The PBS video will be shown partly by Professor Medhurst, who’s criticized that. It should be a good event, and hopefully, maybe they’ll be on the other side of this building, right downstairs here. Otherwise, I’m sure Bernie will be able to field your questions, if you just want to come up and meet him. And I thank you all again for attending.


1:34:15.5 min. – Audio off.

1. Father Yuan Lo-wha, known as the “Fighting Priest,” fled Communist China in 1950 and eventually settled in Vietnam, where he took the name Fr. Nguyen Lac Hoa. An experienced guerrilla fighter from World War II, Fr. Hoa accepted an invitation from Vietnam’s Ngo Dinh Diem regime to settle in the Communist-held Mekong Delta with other Chinese refugees, and to organize paramilitary resistance against the Viet Cong. With help from his his old WWII comrade Bernie Yoh, Fr. Hoa successfully out-fought the Viet Cong, establishing the fortified settlement of Binh Hung as a free zone, which later encompassed 22 villages. Father Hoa’s exploits were celebrated in the film documentary “The Village That Refuses to Die.” See “Saigon’s Tactics Scored by Priest: Fighter Against Reds Says Cruelty Costs Popularity,” The New York Times, September 1, 1964: “Father Nguyen Lac Hoa and Village of Binh Hung,”; Biography of Augustine Nguyen Lac Hoa,

2. Bernie is here quoting from The Communist Manifesto. “There are, besides, eternal truths, such as freedom, justice, etc., that are common to all states of society. But communism abolishes eternal truths, it abolishes all religion, and all morality, instead of constituting them on a new basis; it therefore acts in contradiction to all past historical experience.” Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto: A Roadmap to History’s Most Important Political Document (Chicago; Haymarket Books: October 1, 2005) page 68

3. I could not find this exact quote in Lenin’s Collected Works. However, Lenin did criticize the growing promiscuity among young Bolsheviks, in a 1920 interview. See Clara Zetkin, Lenin on the Woman Question (New York : International Publishers), 1934. Writing in 1926, an anonymous Russian woman described the crimes of passion and other social disorders caused by the “free love” policies of the early Bolshevik state. See A Woman Resident in Russia, “The Russian Effort to Abolish Marriage,” The Atlantic Monthly, July 1926

4. Soviet student Vitaly Yakovlevich Matuzok defected by running across the Korean DMZ on November 23, 1984. Colonel Thomas Hanson, USA-Ret., “A Forty-Minute Korean War: The Soviet Defector Firefight in the Joint Security Area, Panmunjom, Korea, 23 November 1984,

5. Bernie’s official bio in a 1976 Defense Department publication reads as follows: “YOH, Bernard. Lecturer and consultant on Special Warfare; Advisor to President Diem, Republic of Vietnam, 1955-1963; worked with Maj. Gen. Lansdale as a special team counterinsurgent organizer, fighter, and advisor in Vietnam, 1965-1966; during 1937-1945, organized an anti-Japanese underground that included thieves and pickpockets of Shanghai; also organized bandits into a paramilitary guerrilla force.” See American Institutes for Research, and Daniel C Pollock. The Art And Science of Psychological Operations: Case Studies of Military Application. [Washington, D.C.]: Dept. of the Army, 1976, p27

6. During the 26-day Battle of Huế (January 31-March 2, 1968), North Vietnamese forces murdered between 2,800 and 6,000 men, women, children and infants, burying them in mass graves. See “Massacre at Huế,” Wikipedia [accessed July 5, 2020].

7. After PBS aired its 13-part miniseries Vietnam: A Television History in 1983, AIM accused PBS of bias and pressured the network into broadcasting a rebuttal. The first part of AIM’s rebuttal, narrated by Charlton Heston, was aired on June 26, 1985 (Television’s Vietnam: The Real Story, PBS, June 26, 1985); PBS refused to carry the second part, but some individual PBS affiliates carried it (Television’s Vietnam: The Impact of Media, 1985).

8. American-born Victor Herman was brought to the U.S.S.R. in 1931, at age 16, by his father, a Communist sympathizer. In 1934, Herman became a star athlete, setting the world record for highest parachute jump (from 24,000 feet). The Soviets pressed Herman to renounce his U.S. citizenship. When he refused, he was arrested, tortured and sentenced to 10 years in a Siberian labor camp. He was not allowed to return to the U.S. until 1976. CBS aired a TV film (not a documentary) about Herman’s ordeal in 1982. See Victor Herman, Coming Out of the Ice: An Unexpected Life (New York; Harcourt Brace Jovanovich: 1979); Waris Hussein (director), Coming Out of the Ice, EMI Films, 1982. Full film can be viewed here.

9. Milton E. Miles (Vice Admiral, USN) and Hawthorne Daniel, A Different Kind of War: The Little-Known Story of the Combined Guerrilla Forces Created in China by the U.S. Navy and the Chinese during World War II (Doubleday, 1967), pp 379-380

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