In 1966 Holt sent Australia to war in Vietnam. Will we repeat this mistake in 2022?

Nov 7, 2022
This is Ho Chi Minh, the 64-year-old-May 31, 1954.

In 1966, Harold Holt proclaimed that he was “all the way with L.B.J”, leading to Australia going to war with Vietnam. A war we lost. In 2022, do we really want to do this again?

The first President of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh, worked in Boston at the Parker House Hotel from 1911 to 1913. He loved America and admired its history of fighting for independence. So much so that he quoted sections of the American Declaration of Independence in his own speech declaring independence from France.

Ho sought help from America in his quest for Vietnam’s independence. This is one of the many letters Ho wrote to American Presidents seeking support for the independence movement. The other letters can be viewed at:  (

Letter_Ho Chi Minh to President Harry S. Truman, Feb 28 1946

It is useful to be reminded of this ‘ancient’ history now, because the Australian Parliament is conducting an Inquiry into international armed conflict decision making.

United States and Australia should have known that Ho was a nationalist before he was a communist. Ho and the Vietnamese never wanted to be under a Chinese or Russian umbrella. They wanted independence. China had several times invaded Vietnam, and even now it intrudes into the country’s marine territory.

Why was Ho in Boston? Because as a young man he travelled the world on a merchant vessel as a cook and handyman. He visited ports in Africa, South America and the east coast of America. He stayed in Boston, working as a pastry cook at Parker House. He spent time in the Boston Public Library. He visited Harlem. He attended political meetings. He became politicised in America attending meetings of radicals and socialists.

The Omni Parker House Hotel has maintained the Ho memorabilia. Old documents, photos and articles that hung in the hotel during Ho’s time there now hang on the wall with words saying that Ho Chi Minh worked as Parker’s pastry chef from 1911 to 1913.

The latest development on this irony-of-history is that the current Prime Minister, Pham Minh Chinh, and his delegation visited the Omni Parker House Hotel in May this year. They praised the Hotel for maintaining the memorabilia. And, of course, they took the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with America. Once enemies – now friends. Once ideological opposites – now all capitalist buddies. The President praised the independence, freedom and prosperity of both countries. He thanked the hotel for preserving the Ho artefacts. The Parker House Hotel has become something of a symbol for friendship and cooperation between Vietnam and the United States.

In 1966, Harold Holt proclaimed that he was “all the way with L.B.J.” That led to Australians going to war with a country that had begged America to support its independence movement and that had never ever wanted to be under any other country’s umbrella. And, a war we lost. What a waste.

That was 1966 – and November 18, 2022 is the closing date for submissions to the ‘Inquiry into international armed conflict decision making’. Think about the Boar War (even ancient-er history), the Malayan emergency, the Korean, Iraq, Kuwait and Afghanistan Wars. Do we really want to do this again?

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