JEFF JORDAN: I'm sorry, but you say that you believe in self-determination and in this lovely idea of let everybody decide for themselves. Yet in Vietnam, in 1954, you refused to sign the Geneva Convention, you refused to allow independent elections in Vietnam, you forced the Diem regime on the Vietnamese people, it was hated by the Vietnamese people, it put six million in forced prison camps. This was your puppet regime, and you supported it. You've refused to come to the negotiations with the Vietcong, and you've shown every time you ask for a peace talk, all you do is escalate the war. This is only one example in Vietnam. You've got the example of the C.I.A. overthrowing the Jagan government, you've got the example of it giving 104 million pounds' aid, military aid to Greece. There are so many examples of America refusing to allow a people to determine for itself what government it would have.
REAGAN: Now, are you talking about a people determining what government they'll have, or are you talking about a faction within a country that wants to take over and dictate the system to a country? Now, I disagree, I disagree.
JORDAN: ...the Diem regime. Would you say the Diem regime was a popular one, or was it one which you imposed on a people and which the people then rebelled against?
REAGAN: I doubt that you could make much of a case. I challenge your history. In 1954.-.
JORDAN: ... the history of the Diem regime, sir?
REAGAN: I do. Because there was a referendum taken in 1954, in which 90 per cent of the people voted, in a referendum, for Diem to take the position that he took. He was subsequently endorsed in two other elections, a few years apart, in which they elected both the General Assembly for his government that was preponderantly pro-Diem; they re-elected him to his position. We could hardly have installed a puppet regime at a time when we had less than 700 unarmed military advisers, many of them non-commissioned officers, helping to teach the South Vietnamese how to organize an army for protection against guerrillas in their own country.
JORDAN: I'm sorry, are you saying that you approve of the activities of the Diem regime?
REAGAN: What activities?
JORDAN: Do you approve that they put six million in forced prison camps and that the American advisers did nothing but help them in this?
REAGAN: I challenge your history again. There is absolutely no record that six million people were put in concentration camps. They only have 16 million to begin with. Now, I'd also like to challenge something else about the supposed evils of the Diem regime. I do approve of Diem's land reform in which he took from the great mandarin holdings, and began to make land available to the peasants and to the people of Vietnam, who had never owned land before. But also, I would like to call to your attention that a team from the U.N. was sent to Saigon, Vietnam, to investigate the charges against Diem's regime They did investigate those, but as they returned to this country, Diem was assassinated, which I think was one of the great tragedies of this whole conflict; and the United Nations report, which they declined to make official because they thought why bring anything up now that he's been killed, has on the other hand, been published, there has been public access to it, and the United Nations report completely cleared the Diem regime of any of the charges that had been brought against him.
Nobody defends American history like Reagan. No apologies to the very world we saved. That punk kid should have just said thank you.