America's top UN diplomat has high praise for 'Hanoi Jane'

New U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power didn't waste her diplomatic skills on Vietnam veterans at a New York speech, praising actress Jane Fonda for "being outspoken on behalf" of her convictions.

Power, 43, was speaking at the United Nations Association of the USA 2013 Global Leadership Awards in New York Wednesday, where honorees included Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived being shot in the head by Taliban thugs and is now an education advocate for girls.

“Hi everybody,” Power said, according to a transcript. “You know life has changed when you’re hanging out with Jane Fonda backstage. There is no greater embodiment of being outspoken on behalf of what you believe in — and being 'all in' in every way — than Jane Fonda. And it’s a huge honor just to even briefly have shared the stage with her.”


But Vietnam veterans have long held a less charitable view of the Oscar-winning actress, who in her younger days took her anti-war activism to North Vietnam, where she posed with Viet Cong soldiers at a missile battery and earned the derisive nickname "Hanoi Jane." The now-75-year-old actress has since apologized for what she told Oprah Winfrey was an "unforgivable mistake" made in 1972. Fonda told Winfrey she was taken to a North Vietnam military site during the last day of her visit, despite her objections.

"I was an emotional wreck by [then]," Fonda told Winfrey last year. "I don't know if I was set up or not. I was an adult. I take responsibility for my actions."

Power, who was born in Ireland and was a toddler when Fonda made her infamous remarks, may not have been aware she was hitting a raw nerve. But Vietnam vets who spoke to said anyone representing the U.S. to the world ought to know about Fonda's foreign policy history.

"We all hate her," said Ned Foote, president of the New York State Council of the Vietnam Veterans of America.

The 65-year-old Marine Corps. veteran said Fonda's subsequent apologies ring hollow. "What she did is just very unforgivable. Apologies, what does that mean? She did harm."

Joe Kristek, a 69-year-old former Army sergeant who is Foote's counterpart in North Carolina, said Fonda "collaborated with the enemy." Kristek repeated an old allegation that Fonda took notes from American POWs and, instead of passing them on to their families, instead turned them over to their captors. Fonda has said she did meet with POWs, but denies turning over their messages.