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“Vietnamization” Inadequate, Suspect, and Risky The following letter from former Congressman Jerry Voorhis was sent to several members of Congress and entered in the Congressional Record of March 9, 1971 by Senator Alan Cranston. Reprints may be obtained from Business Executives Move for Vietnam Peace and New National Priorities, 201 Alassachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002. Dear Alan: This letter from an ordinary but deeply concerned citizen of the United States is sent to you because I feel sure that you are as sensitive as I to the stark tragedy in which we are involved in Southeast Asia. And, of course, with even more reason. I understand the burden you carry, for I was once for ten years a member of the House myself. It is difficult for an average citizen to understand why our government cannot grasp, and act upon, certain evident facts. First of these is that no government in any nation, or part of a nation, can expect to win the genuine allegiance of its own people if it owes its existence in power to the support of a foreign army on its soil. Especially if that foreign army is of a very different race and culture, and if it comes from a nation manifold times as powerful as the one being occupied. And especially again if the government of the occupied country is a corrupt one. It is, therefore, impossible for our avowed objectives to be gained as long as either the present government rules in Saigon or our troops are there shoring it up. Second, it is altogether evident that the Communist powers, big and little, know very well that they have the United States in precisely the position in which they would like to keep us. Namely, the position of day-by-day engaging in, or inducing others to engage in, the mass destruction of the lives and the environment of small countries on the other side of the globe. The Communist powers know full’ well what this is costing us in lives of our men, in untold expenditure of resources, above all in the besmirching of the good name of our nation around the entire Earth. Every day this war lasts means a gain for Communism and a loss for the very cause and values our country is supposed to be trying to protect. If, therefore, we are to be extricated from this tragic situation, we shall have to do it for ourselves; and we need great amount of help from “the other side” in doing so. Third, the very nature of this war, fought on both sides in large part by mass attacks upon whole civilian populations, is inevitably causing a deep hatred of our country and of the soldiers who hear its burdens on the part of the people of all Southeast Asia. It is exposing, too, our own men to moral dangers of whose extent we are only now beginningto become aware. And one wonders how long it will be before there are mass uprisings against Americans in South Vietnam. What will our forces do then? Put it down by bombing Saigon? ‘ It is an immoral war, and to expect anything but gross immorality to result from it is to be incredibly naive. The trial of Lieutenant Calley is an attempt to make one minor officer bear the guilt which rests, in fact, upon every officer and official above Calley who ever ordered the bombing of a village and ultimately upon every single American who has permitted this carnage to go on without protest. Have we completely forgotten the Nuremberg trials and the lofty principles enumerated there? Fourth, neither North Vietnam nor the Viet Cong can be bombed into submission. This was tried and failed. To resume it, as the President has threatened to do would only result in deepening the determination of the North to resist and increase the support given it by Russia and China. A military victory is impossible short of decimating the entire population of all Vietnam, Laos, and that tragic little country of Cambodia. Yet we do not appear to have given up the idea of military victory. The people of the villages of Cambodia were living peaceful existences until the invasion of their country by order of the President and by forces of both the United States and South Vietnam. The traditional hatred between Cambodians and Vietnamese is a matter of historical record. Yet, here again by our action we have created a situation where a military dictatorship in Cambodia depends for its precarious existence upon the support of two hated foreign armies American in the skies and Vietnamese on the ground. And the once peaceful and undisturbed people of Cambodian villages are subjected to death from the skies, to fighting in their fields, and to the battling of foreign armies on their soil. Is this the way to convert people to the ideals for which our country is supposed to stand? It is, I venture to say, far more likely which “the other side” is guilty. The threat of President Nixon to resume bombing of the North is evidence of his own fears that “Vietnamization” will not work. What that policy boils down to is that the United States proposes to keep the war going full blast, not only in Vietnam but also in Cambodia and Laos, but without the further killing of our own men. This naturally enough would bring blessed relief to American homes. But it will not be of ,any great help to those of Southeast Asia! And can anyone doubt that as soon as they think enough Americans have been withdrawn the North Vietnamese will launch a major attack? And what do we do then? We already have the Administration’s answer. It is to start all over again with bombing of the North, thus hardening its determination to fight to the bitter end. Suppose, as is almost certain judging from past experience, that the bombing is not effective in putting a stop to the North’s offensive. What then? A reversal of the withdrawal policy would seem the only probable result. Meanwhile, it seems to me that our prisoners of war held by North Vietnam are being used as pawns in a game for the political advantage of the Administration. It is clear enough that those prisoners will be released when the war ends and not till then. The abortive, if courageous, attempts to “rescue” some of them may have been calculated to gain political support for the Administration. But its only result so far as the prisoners of war are concerned will be the possibility of reprisals against them and the certainty that they will be held under far more stringent confinement and control. I think this despicable. I also have at least a suspicion that the Administration is playing on the emotions of the American people with this prisoner of war issue in order to prepare the people for an escalation of the war, if events do not turn out as the Administration hopes. Were South Vietnam a united nation and were its government one that could command the spontaneous allegiance of its people were it not instead a government that must use the most repressive measures to keep itself in power then the situation might be different. But that is not the case. We are, I submit, confronted by two alternatives. One is to prepare for involvement of men and treasure in Southeast Asia for an indefinite length of time. The other is to seek a peace now on almost any terms that can be negotiated. The incalculable losses from the first course, in loss of lives, in depletion of resources, in preventing effective attack on our problems at home, and in deepening the sense of guilt and moral deterioration within our own country makes the second alternative the only practical or decent one from the point of view of our nation not to mention the war-torn population to Southeast Asia. What then must the United States do? First, agree to a definite date for withdrawal of all U.S. Forces, not only ground combat forces, but air forces, logistic forces, the CIA, advisers everyone. In short, to follow General MacArthur’s admonition, though belatedly, and not to engage in any war on the Asian continent. Second, to agree to an interim government in South Vietnam that would not include Thieu or Ky but would include all significant elements in that beleaguered country. Third, to agree to abide by the results of internationally supervised elections to determine the future government of South Vietnam, and probably of Cambodia as well. This would surely be in accord with our professed objective of self-determination. It is, I believe, probable that on such a basis a peace could be concluded. And I am sure our government ought to try. Sincerely, Jerry Voorhis, a concerned citizen, Jan. 1971 Childers Manufacturing Company shares the growing awareness that corporations have a responsibility to the society in which they are participants, and here offers another in its exchange of ideas series . . . as a contribution to public thought, discussion, and understanding. ortiMERs PAMUMOTORIMO COMPANY Box 7467, Houston, Texas 77008