ing for years that nothing less than a basic land reform can win over the peasants to the side of the government. Therefore, I should like now to argue from the basis in historical fact established above that U.S. military intervention in Vietnam has been, and is bound to be, counter-productive in the sense that our professed goals self-determination and economic wellbeing for the South Vietnamese, security and peace for ourselvesare being steadily undermined. In fact, prudence and principle combine to demand that the U.S. guaranteed universal amnesty can be arranged under United Nations or other inaging the various indigenous Vietnamese parties to the present conflict to negotiate a peaceful and humane solution. This proposal is, I believe, amply buttressed by the following considerations. Legally, the U.S. is presently waging an undeclared war against a duly constituted government and on behalf of a government to which the U.S. is obligated by no treaty or other binding commitment. The relevant clause of the SEATO agreement \( to which South Vietnam is ingly invoked by the U.S., and Eisenhower’s letter to Ngo Dinh Diem in 1954 specified that aid be contingent on reforms prove South Vietnam’s ability to defend itself. Morally, any prior obligation to protect the sovei -eignty, independence, and freedom of the South Vietnamese people. has long since been superseded by the simple humanitarian precept that life and human values should not be wantonly destroyed in the pursuit of high-minded but futile ends. Those who have any lingering doubts on this score should read Jonathan Schell’s vivid and chilling eye-witness report on the evacuation and destruction of the village of Ben Suc in South Vietnam in the July 15, 1967, issue of The New Yorker. Thus bombers cannot successfully discriminate between “friendly” and “enemy” villages in South Vietnam \(even granting that the distinction is a meanpresence in South Vietnam fail to corrupt and to undermine all social, economic, and political institutions there; nor can the threatand challenge-L-of communism in North Vietnam be eliminated short of totally destroying the fabric of its society. Politically, the situation in Vietnam is quite unlike that of any other contemporary ex-colonial country, because only in Vietnam did a completely indigenous uprising succeed in defeating a modern Western military establishment. Even in Southeast Asia Vietnam is probably unique: Thailand is ruled by a popular dynasty and has no urgent problem of land reform; Laos has had the support of both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. for maintaining an admittedly precarious neutralist position; Burma has a vaguely socialist government which perhaps helps to blunt the appeal of communist ideology; and so on. Most important is the fact that, much as we may deplore it, the communists in Vietnam can make strong claims to be the legitimate heirs of a deeply rooted historical tradition of nationalistic feeling and resentment of foreign domination. While it may be true that no country in the world has ever freely voted a communist government into power, many competent observers agree that this is probably what would have happened in Vietnam in 1956 if elections had been held in accordance with the terms of the Geneva Declaration of 1954. On the other hand, it must be remembered that Ho Chi Minh and his fellow leaders are after all Vietnamese first and communists only afterwards, and it is hard to imagine that they have not learned, after repeated betrayals by their French, Russian, and Chinese comrades, the bitter costs of subordinating the needs of their own country to the shifting “lines” of world communism. Militarily, U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam would lessen the danger of a nuclear confrontation with the Soviet Union surely a prime objective of any rational policy-maker. For ; while the danger of a calculated threat by any major power to a vital American security area seems highly remote in a world which has absorbed the lessons of the Cuban missile crisis, the danger of unintended war remains perhaps as grave as ever. To the argument that if we don’t make a stand in Vietnam we will eventually have to fight the Chinese Communists elsewhere under less favorable conditions, I would reply, first, by advertising to the almost uniquely inauspicious political conditions for anti-guerrilla warfare in Vietnam; second, by noting that in fact we are not presently confronting Chinese military power at all in Vietnam, and that it seems hardly likely that China will in the foreseeable future deliberately provoke such a confrontation; and third, by emphasizing that no legitimate \(i.e., \(Harris Green, from the comparative safety of New York City, continues to amend the Observer’s sourcebook of Texas TEXAS PHILOSOPHYan amalgam of old battle cries, Holy Writ, and moot points \(see also Medicine, Home; Maxims, Folk; and Texas philosophy became an object of close study on a global scale in the summer of 1964, soon after the Gulf of Tonkin Incidentthe morning after, if you really want to know. Before that it hadn’t interested anyone north of Lake Texoma. Now the deeper meanings behind “aggression” and “commitment” have become the concern of thinkers at points as disparate as Hanoi, Punta del Este, Tel Aviv, ments of U.S. security demand any military outposts in Southeast Asia. Ideologically, U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam could represent a turning-point in the evolution among Americans of flexible and responsible attitudes toward alien socio-political systems. Surely, if our experience in Vietnam has taught us anything, it is the utter inadequacy of blind anti-communism \( exemplified so perfectly selecting individuals or governments worthy of support. Is it not ironic that in Indonesia, where American influence has been conspicuous by its absence, communism has recently suffered its worst defeat in Southeast Asia? Of course, except from a narrowly ideological point of view, it is impossible to see in the massacring of thousands of Indonesian Communists anything but an unmitigated human disaster. Economically, U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam could be accompanied by a tremendous release of human and technological resources ,for use in meeting the real challenges of our time how to alleviate poverty and disease throughout the world, including, of course, both the U.S. and Vietnam, and how to extend man’s intellectual and moral horizons. Psychologically, U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam would quiet the fears of many of our allies, lessen the unfortunate racial overtones which many non-Caucasian peoples persistently sense in our foreign policy, and improve our diplomatic relations with China and Russia. At least, these predictions seem to me much more plausible than those of the “domino theory” and its variants, which see U.S. withdrawal from Vietnam as leading inevitably by some undefined and thoroughly mysterious process to a crisis in the creci3bility of U.S. commitments and thereby to the eventual downfall of pro-American governments around the globe. Fantasies of this kind are unworthy of the citizens of a great and powerful nation. El and Hyannisport. In the offices of the Democratic. National Committee, Texas philosophy has become such an obsession that it may, indirectly, be ‘beneficial for drug manufacturers as it was, directly, for oilmen. The phrase “Miltonic” once referred to a style of oratory common to party spokesmen; now it would be considered a brand name for a liquid tranquilizer and ordered by the vat. The steeply escalating interest in Texas philosophy has done little to win over the hearts and minds of thinkers not born to the stuff. Its hard core is believed to resist a purely logical assault by outsiders. Under the strong light of native scholarship, Texas philosophy more than makes up in shallowness what it loses in depth. August 4, 1967 13 Observer Almanac: II
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