.’0″1 and Associates 502 W. 15th Street Austin, Texas 78701 REALTOR \(.1 Representing all types of properties in Austin and Central Texas Interesting 8 unusual property a specialty . 477-3651 MAXIMILLIANS FISH BOWL HAMBURGERS FRIED CATFISH 9 AM TILL 4 PM 135 EAST COMMERCE ACROSS FROM THE ALAMO NATIONAL BANK SAN ANTONIO 225-0231 VISIT OUR FISHBOWL area of forward defense for the Pacific.” Frequently referring to a large map of Southeast Asia behind the speaker’s platform, Rostow contended that Presidents Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all believed that our vital interests would be jeopardized by a communist takeover in Vietnam. “U.S. policy in the 1960s,” he said, “cannot be understood without understanding the strategic implications as developed from Truman through Kennedy. . . . The strategic threat to Southeast Asia was not lifted by Nixon’s opening to China. The threat of the Soviet Union was still there.” In Rostow’s view, Soviet strategy in Southeast Asia appears so far to have been unsuccessful; nevertheless, he issued a warning: “Communists, unlike ourselves, are patient, persevering, and stubborn, and there is no power but the United States to keep the Soviet Union from dominating Southeast Asia.” It was a fascinating, unsettling performance. Brilliant, imposing, privy to a thousand secrets, Walt Rostow seemed as he spoke to slide into a time warp. Pointer in hand, surveying the map of Southeast Asia and calling off the old, familiar names Gulf of Tonkin, Haiphong, Plieku, Subic Bay in the Philippines reviving the old strategies, it was, for Walt Rostow, 1965 or so it seemed. Somehow it was like listening to a professor, his class and colleagues long since departed, standing alone at the board still pondering, defending, justifying, still shoring up old theories long since abandoned by others. After his lecture, Rostow was asked what he had learned in the years since he left Washington. “The greatest healing gift I know,” he said, “is the rejection of the neuroses of a previous generation, and it’s happening right now. For this generation, Vietnam is as far away as the Civil War. As a teacher going around and seeing this generation, I’m not nearly so depressed about it as Mr. Bly. I think it’s an awfully good generation and they even seem to get along with their girls.” Pulitzer prize winner Philip Geyelin, author of LBJ and the World, editor-inresidence of the Johns Hopkins Foreign Policy Institute, opened the Sunday morning session by discussing what he called the “Vietnam Syndrome.” There were, he said, several manifestations: The general debilitating distrust of government, a turning away in disillusionment from Washington. The Vietnam Syndrome syndrome those who hold to the belief that our only wrong was in not going all out to win the war, represented by Alexander Haig’s “Me Tarzan” approach to foreign policy, which is also Ronald Reagan’s approach. A reluctance to get involved anywhere. “We tend to forget,” Geyelin said, “that just before our involvement in Vietnam, LBJ landed 15,000 troops in the Dominican Republic, to useful effect.” The ‘Congressional syndrome Congress today “elbows its way into the most sensitive .diplomatic concerns.” \(The Clark Amendment defining our role The media Vietnam syndrome, characterized by the media’s tendency to assume the worst. “The media cannot forget,” Geyelin said, “that for too long it was gullible to the government line.” The positive legacies of Vietnam, Geyelin said, are the veterans themselves and “an acute awareness in Washington of the need to get the consent of the governed. A democracy cannot keep a poker face.” THE SPEECHES DONE, the speakers themselves offered brief thoughts on what they intend to do in response to the Salado weekend. Robert Bly said he intended to organize American Writers in Support of Vietnam Veterans. General Kinnard confessed that “this is the first sensitivity I’ve had to the problems of the veterans in a real way, and I realized that I’m one of those veterans myself.” He said he intended to get in touch with a veterans group back home in Vermont. At that point, the veterans themselves spoke. They weren’t on the program, and for most of the weekend they had merely listened. Now it seemed they could no longer hold their thoughts and emotions in check. From John Contee there was anger about Agent Orange directed at Walt Rostow; from others there were anguished questions about what the chemical might be doing to their children. From Marcy Busick there was reproach that the women veterans had been ignored, and from G-No Bianchi bitterness that “the privates who were down there swatting mosquitoes and yelling ‘Where’s the ammo?’ hadn’t been heard from. An embittered Bianchi told Fort Hood’s commanding general that before the war he taught map-reading and hand-to-hand combat at Fort Hood; he challenged the general to invite him back to share with the troops what he had learned since coming home. There was anger, bitterness, and at the same time tears and a sense of release. Solzhenitsyn has written: “Is it possi ble to transmit the experience of those who suffered to those who have yet to suffer? Can one part of humanity learn from the bitter experience of another?” What I saw on Sunday morning in Salado suggests that yes, it is possible. When the session broke up, I saw tears in the eyes of men and women with no firsthand knowledge of Vietnam’s horrors. I saw G-No Bianchi talking with Lt. General W. F. Ulmer, Jr., and I heard the general invite Bianchi to visit Fort Hood and speak to his men. I saw a tall, young black man and a stocky, balding white man John Contee and Walt Rostow standing together talking, and I saw Rostow writing on the back of an envelope the address for an Austin veterans group. “I’ll use whatever capital I have to do what I can,” I heard Rostow tell the veteran. In Salado, it seemed to me, beside a creek that for Harry Wilmer symbolizes life’s regeneration, I was seeing the healing process. 16 NOVEMBER 26, 1982
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