strophe of nuclear war and the destruction of the world. THE REAL DANGER of the Vietnam war is that the kind of American pressure that might bring down the North Vietnamese is also the kind of pressure that might bring the Chinese into the war. In the May 20 issue of the New Republic, Harrison Salisbury wrote that he was informed by responsible Chinese that they were preparing for war with the U.S. a war which we would provoke by our escalation in Vietnam: “They said that to their way of thinking Vietnam was merely a place d’arms, a jumping off place for attack upon China.” This peril has been sounded by other scholars who interpret the “Cultural Revolution” now raging in China as a program to condition the Chinese masses for war with America. In a recent article in the Nation, Isaac Deutscher reported that the whole of China is being converted to a guerrilla regime in expectation of an American attack upon it. Two new books on China, Jules Roy’s Journey Through China and K. S. Karol’s China: The Other Communism, both indicate that China is assiduously preparing for the attack they believe the U.S. is going to launch. Karol, an expert Kremlinologist, states that the Red Guard is a device being employed by Mao Tse-tung to toughen the young, to mobilize the country on a para-military basis, to prepare China for the “worst and heaviest sacrifices,” and to trigger a movement that would sweep away “the dust of the old society” so that China might become an “armed ocean to engulf any armed invasion.” Salisbury declares that the same explanation was given to him several months ago: “The spokesman conceded that the cost of the turbulent Red Guard movement was substantial, but insisted it was a price which must be paid if China was to steel herself for the terrible blows which the United States would rain down upon her.” At the same time, there is really little doubt that Russia would support China in a confrontation with the U.S. in spite of both the present strain in Sino-Soviet relations and Russia’s recent steps toward rapprochement with the West, for, ultimately, in a Chinese-American war the Soviets would wind up maintaining the balance of power. Russia and China may decisively split in the years to come over historical differences and new balance of power factors arising from a China that possesses full nuclear power and a stable economic foundation. But today the centripetal pressure of U.S. military power in Vietnam is driving them together, and any American threat to Communist China would force the Russians to take all necessary steps to prevent any impairment of her prestige and power just as the U.S. was prepared to do during the Cuban missile crisis. As early as March 26, 1965, Chou En-lai declared, “If the Americans are not content with threatening gestures and really want to provoke a wider conflict, then the Chinese and Russian people will close ranks. That is the truth. Remember that and you will see that history will bear it out. That is why Johnson, who is dancing on the tightrope of war and does not know how to turn about, is risking some surprises.” Chou’s prophecy, given over two years ago, is already becoming reality, for the U.S. escalation of the Vietnam. war has led to a diminution of the Sino-Soviet conflict, to a new Communist agreement to allow Russian arms to pass through Red China to North Vietnam, and to a firm commitment by Moscow to match our escalation of the war step-by-step. In April Yuri Zhukov, a member of the Central Committee of the Soviet Communist Party, informed top-ranking administration advisors that “it looks like a hot summer,” for Russia will “give Hanoi everything it asks.” Told of Zhukov’s warning, the President asked, “Do they [the Russians] know that 63% of the people want me to escalate the war?” THE PRESIDENT’S commentary is a gloomy reminder of the bank ruptcy of our leadership. Haven’t we learned anything from the Cuban missile crisis or the Korean War or World War II? Haven’t we yet learned that no country, however powerful, can arrogantly force other states into a corner without expecting hostility, reaction, and, inevitably, war? Doesn’t the President know that he might be setting into motion forces he can no longer control? As Sen. Robert Kennedy said, “Is it not really inevitable that our adversaries will have to take steps themselves? As surely as we are standing here the Soviet Union. Communist China and North Vietnam will have to react to what we have done by acting themselves.” U Thant recently lamented that the world is now witnessing the initial stages of the third world war. And the real tragedy of the U.S. intervention in the Vietnamese war is that the criticism of Johnson’s policies can be proved only by World War III, and by then it will be too late to do anything but find the deepest cave. A Crisis of Conscience Austin A crisis of conscience has developed in the nation as the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam war has been escalated, sorely testing America’s historic belief that the dictates of an individual’s conscience must be respected. The young American men who are being called on to fight in Vietnam comprise a generation that questions war to an extent unique in our history. How can war, many of these men ask, be consistent with the values of a nation that professes to cherish humanitarianism and democracy? Other young men who are not necessarily pacifists question the legality and morality of the U.S. role in Vietnam. They would not object to participating in a conflict such as World War II, in which the national interest seemed unquestionably legitimate. But, many say, Vietnam is something else. And they recall the principle that was underscored by the Nuremberg tribunal in Germany after World War IIthat an order of higher authority must be resisted if obeying that order would result in a crime against humanity. Many young men are troubled that, by participating in the Vietnam war, they might be involved in such a crime. Balanced against these considerations are the pressures brought on those who resist military orders, the possible jail terms and social censure and, worst of all, the fear each man knows, that he might prove to be a coward, or be thought a coward. Years ago Congress, as “an act of grace,” passed a law excusing any person from combat duty for reasons of conscientious objection. The usual basis for establishing such a claim was that an individual’s concept of God, indicated, normally, by membership in any of certain religious denominations, precluded participation in killing. A 1965 U.S. Supreme Court decision, in the Seeger case, broadened the basis for establishing such a claim, extending it to persons who have no formal or traditional religious affiliation or belief, so long as their beliefs occupy “a place parallel to that filled by the God of those admittedly qualifying for the exemption. . . .” Conscientious objection is not per mitted, however, because an individual objects to a particular war, such as that in Vietnam. Nonetheless, a large number of young men today do seek conscientious objector status, men who would not do so in cases of wars in which the U.S. national interest was less debatable. Another problem of military life, particularly in times of war, is the erosion of individual rights. Many servicemen find the adjustment to service life, a life most of them did not choose, difficult in this regard and often find that not only their lives are highly regulated by those over whom they have little control, but that even their deepest-held beliefs are under attack. Dramatizing these concerns are the cases of four soldiers who are or were stationed at Fort Hood, between Killeen and Gatesville in Central Texas, men whose struggles of conscience have become nationally and internationally known. Some of the convictions held by “the Fort Hood Three” and by Pfc. Howard Petrick have proven widely at variance August 4, 1967 3
You May Also Like
The documentary in Falfurrias is sinister and spiritual.