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March 30, 1968 - Image 10

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Page Ten


Saturday, March 30, 1968

Poge Ten THE MICHIGAN DAILY Saturday, March 30, 1968

Academic copout
in the midst of war
The Dissenting Academy, Theodore Roszak, ed. Pantheon,
Sometime between World War II and the demise of Sen.
Joseph McCarthy, a general attitude that has been described as
liberal anti-Communism became the prevailing attitude of the
American intellectual community.
The basic premises of liberal anti-Communism were two: that
the government should be encouraged to pursue its policy of con-
taining Communism abroad, and that it should be prodded to cure
whatever social ills might still be in existence at home.
At the time liberal anti-Communism was blossoming, there is
no doubt that many of its advocates believed they were taking a
stand that was both idealistic and sensible, Stalin's repressive
and cynical methods of ruling seemed to discredit Communism as
a means of achieving social progress, while the United States seemed
to be taking a genuinely progressive role in the world with programs
like the Marshall Plan.
Whatever the validity of this view of the world, it permitted
academics and intellectuals to go to work for the government, or at
least to work on government-sponsored projects, in good con-
science. Criticism, if it was encouraged at all, was directed at par-
ticular programs or parts of programs rafher than at the foreign
policy or the society's structure as a whole.
Government, under pressure to keep up with the Soviets in the
misfile race, the space race, and in other races, threw off its tradi-
tional distrust of the intellectual community and began funding
research programs at the universities.
The consequences of the post-war romance between universities
and the government are what most, though not all, of the eleven
contributors to The Dissenting Academy talk about. Although it
is clear that the War in Vietnam is the starting point for all of
them, they do not write so much about where academics have failed
in trying to end the war, as about the larger failure of the univer-
sities to criticize a society that would get into such a war.
As described in this book, some of the failings of academics
are almost incredible. Sumner Rosen, an economist writing about
the deficiencies of economic work in this country, says that the
impact of military spending in the economy has been all but
ignored by professional economists. According to Rosen, "war and
preparation for war" is the most important single force in the
economy today. Why, then, has this area been neglected?
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that economists, the group
that has come closest to the .inner circles of power in this country
(what other discipline boasts anything like the President's Council
of Economic Advisors?), just don't want to point out how depend-
ent our economy is on war-spending because it would spoil their
cozy relationship with the government.
Rosen suggests this is part of the problem, but he sees a less
direct reason for it. As he explains it,
The scholars and teachers are not consciously avoiding or
evading a duty which they know in their hearts must be faced.
Rather, they are conforming to a point of view about the econ-
omy and about their own role and responsibility which they
find both bearable and honorable. It is part of a more general
view of scholarship which effectively molds all but a handful
of mnen, and casts that handful into the role of peripheral fig-
ures, cranks, or monomaniacs. This is at root an ahistorical,
a technical or mechanical, a nonpolitical view of what the
economy is and how it works. It is seen as a system with stable
structural' characteristics, operating within parameters that
will not change.
Economists, in other words, accept the structure of the econ-
omy, in the large, and address their criticisms to limited technical
aspects of it.
A similar criticism of anthropologists is made by Kathleen
Gough. She says that anthropologists in general study primitive
cultures, and sometimes even examine the impact of Western
society on these cultures, without considering the larger question
of Western imperialism, its origins and overall impact.
Some of the contributors to the Dissenting Academy discuss
the role, or non-role of professional associations in their respective
disciplines with regard to taking public stands on issues.
Marshall Windmiller, an associate professor of international
relations at San Francisco State College, describes how the Amer-
icn Political Science Association reacted last year when it was dis-
closed that two of its top officers were also running a research
firm funded by the CIA.
An investigation was held. In reporting its results to the mem-
bership, the APSA leadership thanked the, two men for their
"dedication and services" to the Association, and otherwise con-
centrated on proving that the APSA itself was not a CIA front.
In the book's final essay, Noam Chomsky, Ferrari Ward Pro-
fessor of Linguistics at MIT, suggests a larger role for men of ideas.
The essay, entitled "The Responsibility of Intellectuals," explains
how intellectuals and scholars have gotten away from their basic
role, which is to "speak the truth and expose lies."
' In one illuminating passage, he describes how even some com-

mitted intellectuals-participants in an International Conference
on Alternative Perspectives on, Vietnam-were so caught in their
academic background that they decided to divide study of the
Vietnam situation among three groups of specialists: the Asian
specialists were to study the situation in Vietnam, the social theo-
rists were to study the impact of Vietnam in international relations,
and the philosophers and theologians were to examine the U.S.
foreign policy "in terms of basic human values, rooted in various
theological, philosophical and humanist traditions.''
Chomsky suggests that Vietnam is something th t can be
easily understood, most especially by intellectuals, and that their
responsibility is to ask "What have I done?" as they read, "each
day, of fresh atrocities in Vietnam--as we create, or mouth, or
tolerate the deceptions that will be used to justify the next defense
of freedom."

Bernard Fall on the end of the beginning of war

Hell in a VeryFSmall Place,
by Bernard B. Fall. Vintage,
Early into the morning of
May 7, 1954, the red and gold
flag of the Viet Minh was raised
above the captured French for-
tress of Dienbienphu in Viet-

"The 10,000 men, French and
Viet Minh, who died at Dien-
bienphu, may have done more,
to shape the fate of the world
than the soldiers at Agincourt,
Waterloo or Stalingrad," wrote
the late Bernard B. Fall of the
battle which ended what he
called the First Indochina War.
While Fall's judgment may
have been somewhat exagger-
ated, the passage of 14 years

has done nothing to lessen the
impact of Dienbiephu on con-
temporary international affairs.
At Dienbienphu, the Viet
Minh, under the command of
North Vietnam's current De-
fense Minister and Vice Pre-
mier Vo Nguyen Giap, proved
conclusively that a basically
primitive army, backed by an
extensive and efficient supply
system and aided by a sym-

pathetic local populace, can de-
feat a well-armed highly-
mechanized, modern force.
As Fall repeatedly - points
out, this is "a lesson which the
United States still has not
learned in 1966."
Like the Americans, the
French assumed, in planning
for the defense of Dienbienphu,
an isolated jungle garrison, that
classical methods of inderdic-
tion could so disrupt enemy
supply lines that the Viet Minh
could not mount the kind of
offensive needed to take Dien-
What they forgot was that
unlike western armies, the Viet
Minh moved their supplies lar-
gely on the back of thousands
of coolies, who could walk
around bombed out roads, hack
paths through virgin jungles
and wade through tropical
The French thought the Viet
Minh could never get heavy ar-
tillery through the jungle. The
Viet Minh dismantled their
field pieces, had ,coolies push
the parts through the jungle
on bicycles and reassembled
the guns on the spot. Within a
week, the Viet Minh effectively
neutralized the French artillery,
demolished the Dienbienphu
airstrip and put up enough
antiaircraft fire to ensure the
slow starvation of the French
In view of this history, it

seems strange that American
officials were surprised when
the North Vietnamese showed
up with tanks in the attack on
the Special Forces camp at
Lang Vei early this year, or
when the Viet Cong managed to
bring cannon and heavy mor-
tars inside Saigon and Hue
during the Tet offensive.
Fall, who was the leading
chronicler of both the First and
Second Indochina Wars until
his death in Vietnam last year,
presents a detailed and objec-
tive history of the siege and
fall of Dienbienphu. In fact, the
book is detailed to a fault, con-
taining vast amounts of infor-
mation which boggle the casual
reader, although they should
prove invaluable to historians.
He lays most of the blame
for the defeat of the French at
Dienbienphu on the French
comand, who grossly underesti-
mated the potential of the Viet
Minh army and of Gen. Giap
as a strategist. It seems likely
that had Fall lived, he would
have found the U.S. high com-
mand equally culpable in the
Tet offensive.
Fall concludes Hell in a Very
Small Place with two intriguing,
albeit moot, theses about Dien-
bienphu. First, he contends that
American air intervention in
the late stages of the battle,
as was suggested by Secretary
of State John Foster Dulles and
the joint chiefs of staffs, but

which was vetoed by President
Eisenhower, would have saved
the French garrison and pre-
vented the Second Indochina
War. This theory is based on
the assumption that a French
victory or a standoff at Dien-
bienphu would not have pre-
vented ultimate French defeat
in Indochina but would have
bought time for more orderly
withdrawl and a more viable
political solution at Geneva.
At best, this notion is rather
tenous. It seems the only stable
government that could have
been established at Geneva
would have been a united Viet-
nam under Ho. And that prob-
ably would have precipitated
immediate American interven-
Falls second thesis is that the
fall of Dienbienphu led in large
part to the defeat of the French
in Algeria. A large number of
the French troops in Indochina
were North Africans-Algerians
and Moroccans-who learned
national liberation army tech-
niques directly from their Viet
Minh conquerors. More inte-
restingly, he contends that the
junior French officers who were
captured interpreted the Viet
Minh indoctrination as mean-
ing that they could establish
a revolutionary force using the
"mass" b a s e of 1,000,000
Frenchmen in Algeria, thus set-
ting the stage for the battling
of the early 1960s.



Khe Sanh now depends heavily on air drops - a new Dienbienphu?
Independence cum nothing

Reclaiming the American
Dream, by Richard C. Cor-
nuelle. Vintage, $1.65.
For the casual student of the
American dream, America's
greatness was distilled in the
individual pioneers who banded
together for barn raisings and
quilting bees and who freed the
land of savages and predatory
animals in their spare time.
Their task finished, the more
society-minded A m e r i c a n s
claimed the land from those
who had left it unattended for
centuries and gave it unto
But when the land was care-
fully gathered among the Amer-
icans who could manage it
best, the power-minded gov-
ernment stepped in and tried
to gobble up the small empires
the society-minded Americans
had built.
Now Richard C. Cornuelle, in
a neo-classical attempt at
mythology, reclaims the "inde-
pendent sector"-the people
who originally quilted quilts
and laid down law and order
-as the saviors-to-be of a na-
tion burgeoning with two in-
compatible philosophies.-
In crude terms, to which
Cornuelle subscribes, the liber-
als are going to give us more
government and less freedom
until they run out of money.
And the conservatives, if given
the chance, would only give us
back our money along with all
the problems we've foisted on
the government.
Subsequently, all true Amer-
icans should reject the present

system and cleave unto the old
system. What could be a won-
derfuly radical change, how-
ever, is strafed by Cornuelle's
own guns.
By blind luck he recognizes
that the same people who
pushed westward to make the
way safe for civilization are the
same people who pile-drove rail-
road tracks to make the way
accessible to whoever could af-
ford the rate, and the same peo-
ple who are now making the
world safe for, whatever wants
to believe it.
In the American Medical As-
sociation, Cornuelle sees a po-
tential modernday extension of
the "independent sector." But
he warily notes that it has al-
ways been on the watch to pro-
tect the interests of doctors,
who pay dues, rather than pa-
tients, who do not.
Instead of the highly-organ-
ized public service groups, un-
der which the Boy Scouts would
also be couched, Cornuelle pro-
poses a different tack.
The Benjamin Franklin So-
ciety, to which he belongs, as-
sesses each of its members five
per cent of their income and
five hours week of their time.
These resources are then used
in theways thought best by a
majority of the members.
Although Cornuelle won't
quite face up to it, 01' Ben's
Society follows the guidelines
of Washington technicians re-
markably well . . . down to the
last patronizing drop of self-
No matter how hard he tries,
Cornuelle can not resolve the
inconsistencies which trouble
his "independent sector." Yet,

for no apparent reason other
than pure cussedness, he con-
scientiously sets forth old plans
without newreal revisions which
could slay -all the dragons on
the journey to the democratic
Cornuelle is in the common
circumstances of having come
up with a political idea which
is no political idea at all, and
if it ever becomes widely ac-
cepted, it seems destined to do
nothing at all.

Subscribers to the Professional Theatre Program Play of the
Month series are reminded that they should use series tickets
dated Jan. 15 for the matinee performance of "Hello, Dolly!"
-Professional Theatre Program



.._._ ............ .

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Bel in a Very Small Place-
Bernard Fall
The Dissenting Academy-
ed. Theodore Roszak
Reclaiming the American Dream-
instock now

316 S. State

NO 2-5669




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