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The Texas Observer NOV. 10, 1967 A Journal of Free Voices A Window to The South 25c The Shame of America Fagan Dickson is an Austin attorney and a leading Texas Democrat who has close ties on both sides of the state party’s ideological fence the Johnson-Connally side and that of Ralph Yarborough. He began reading on Vietnam some time ago and found himself becoming more and more concerned about this nation’s role in that . country’s war. Earlier this year Mr. Dickson wrote and had published privately two pamphlets, which the Observer has combined into a single tract that begins on page 7. In late October he was invited by the Rev. Dr. John Barclay, the minister of Central Christian Church in Austin, to express his views on Vietnam before the Adventurers Sunday school class. Mr. Dickson is a deacon of that church. Dr. Barclay is often referred to in Austin as “the President’s pastor,” since he was invited by the President to Washington to take a part in the program during the 1964 inauguration. Mr. Dickson prepared the following as the basis of his remarks for the class but, due to time limitations, was unable to discuss all the points herein raised. The response of the class was quiet attention, somewhat tinged by a certain tenseness. During the question period there was wide response; most, but not all, of the questioners indicating they support the US policy in Vietnam. Mr. Dickson was invited back to speak two weeks later, to share the floor with a supporter of the US policy. Austin It is difficult to take a text about Vietnam because there is so much material to choose from. You can start with the control of the military-industrial complex and the profits of munition makers which President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address . . . Or the financial crisis caused by the fear of impending inflation and the problems of Secretary of the Treasury Fowler in having to refinance over $100 billion in long-term government debt within one year . . . Or the relationship of our atrocities in Vietnam to violence in the city ghettoes . . . Or the revival of McCarthyism at home to match the nation’s extremist policies in foreign affairs .. Or the relationship of our intervention in Vietnam and Russia’s involvement in the Arab-Israel conflict … Or the crusade to defend the faith in Asia as it contributes to the breakdown of the values of our society on the college campuses of America … Or the failure and continued reluctance of our government leaders to tell us of the perils that we face, of the goals that we can reasonably hope to achieve, and what it will cost in men and resources . . . Or the advice of General Douglas MacArthur and all other military, strategists that a land war in Asia would be suicidal for America . . . Or the loss of friends in the United Nations and the invalidation of international good will \(built up by over $100 billion already spent on ing and napalming of a weak, defenseless, have-not nation … Or the probability of a third world war and an atomic holocaust Fagan Dickson that will destroy us all, our beings as well as our beliefs. Since any one of these questions would offer a base for opposition to our military experiment in Vietnam and take up all the time I have to talk to you, I pass them up reluctantly. I will talk to you on how the United States got involved in Vietnam and, since you are a Sunday school class, on the religious aspects of our crusade. At the outset of World War II, the United States did not consider Indochina, of which Vietnam was then one of three Associated States, to be of critical importance. When the Japanese were threatening to seize Vietnam in June, 1940, the French governor-general asked the United States if it would supply 120 planes and anti-aircraft guns to support a resistance. Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles made it clear that his country did not want to become involved, and when asked by the French if there was any alternative to surrender to the Japanese Welles replied: ” . . . it is what I would do in your place,” meaning “surrender.” At a press conference on February 23, 1945, President Roosevelt touched on this question and on that of the usefulness of Indochina to China: “The first thing I asked Chiang was, ‘Do you want IndoChina?’ He said, ‘It’s no help to us. We don’t want it. They are not Chinese. They would not assimilate into the Chinese people.’ I said, ‘What are you going to advocate? It will take a long time to educate for self-government.’ ” For a time, Ho Chi Minh seems to have believed that the United States would sponsor Vietnamese independence. He took the wartime alliance seriously and thought that the “Allies” would fulfill their promises for post-war self-determination. The Viet Minh had collaborated with American agents of the Office of Strategic Services during the war, and the OSS chief in Hanoi after the war, Major Patti, was partisan to its cause and hostile to French plans to return. The Vietnamese Declaration of Independence, which Ho announced on September 2, 1945, began with words taken from the US Declaration of Independence: “All men are created equal. They are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” The Viet Minh had opposed both the French and the Japanese during the war and was in a position to lead a new nationalist government at the end of the war. When, in the last stages, the Japanese assumed the formal power in Vietnam that had been held by their French collaborators, the Viet Minh began an allout war against them. The Japanese surrender to the Allies in August of 1945 was the signal for the Viet Minh forces under Nguyen Giap to move on Hanoi in North Vietnam. They had succeeded in identifying themselves with the Allied victory that was expected to produce nationhood for Vietnam. In August, 1945, the Emperor Bao Dai agreed to abdicate in favor of the Viet Minh. As the Declaration of Independence stated, “Our people has . .. overthrown the monarchic constitution that had reigned supreme for so many centuries.” In meeting with the Viet Minh delegates, the Emperor, for the first time in Vietnamese history, shook the hand of one of his subjects; the imperial flag was pulled down, and henceforth Bao Dai would be known as Citizen Vinh Thuy. On September 2, 1945, Ho Chi Minh read the Vietnamese Declaration of Independence to cheering crowds in Hanoi. Never before had Vietnam seemed so united. In January, 1946, the Viet Minh attempted to legitimize its rule by conducting elections for a national assembly, which, though they hardly proved to be an ideal democratic exercise, were nevertheless a significant political event. During this period Ho Chi Minh, Giap, and other communist leaders in the Viet Minh were stressing the nationalist part of their program at the expense of more