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January 16, 1969 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1969-01-16

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The Johnson years:
An epic failure

A5 THE DEPOSED President makes his
parting soliloquies, many have be-.
come unwittingly caught up in the per-
sonal tragedy of this twentieth century
King Lear. They cling to a hope that the
cold eye of history will somehow vindi+-
cate Lyndon Johnson for five of the most
unfortunate years in the story of America.
Indeed, history can only improve John-
son's popularity. Even the first Adminis-
tration memoirs, and the early historical
monographs of the Johnson years may
help to recapture some of the lost es-
teem for the once-popular President.
But the real failure of the Johnson,
Adminstration should not be obfuscated
by letting the healing power of time make
yus forget such things as the true agony
-of Vietnam and the horrors of urban
pN POLITICAL terms the last four years
of Lyndon Johnson can be seen only
,as an epic ailure. He has squandered the
biggest mandate ever given to an Ameri-
can President. He won 61 per cent of the
popular vote in 1964. Four years later he
was forced to step down with the pplls
showing almost everyone capable of de-
feating him
This tremendous loss of popularity does
dot necessarily imply failure. A success-
ful President need not be a popular one.
.?Witness the administrations of Truman
and Lincoln. But, unfortunately, popu-
larity.was the game Lyndon Johnson was
'playing. He demanded consensus in 1964
iand got it. Four years later it had evapo-
gated. By his own definition, Johnson has
Johnson took the oath of office in 1964
"Ifrmly committed to building a Great
ociety. To build that society he covet-
ously sought great power. His concern
Nor the poor of the nation, for improving
education, and for rebuilding the cities
Qwas genuine. Johnson failed to build the
-Great Society. He was not powerful
enough to make his commitment to it
supersede the lure of Vietnam. By his
own standards, Johnson failed.
BUT MAYBE IT is not fair judging a
President on the goals he sets for
himself. Lyndon Johnson set his goals
high and made success difficult to
achieve. A Richard Nixon who aspires to
undramatic goals will very likely succeed
in their attainment. But is this success a
D ead ideals
ABOUT EIGHT years ago, a group of
students concerned about what they
perceived as a decline in the quality and
freedom of American life formed Stu-
dents for a Democratic Society to work
for. increased democratization and open-
, ness of U.S. society.
From its inception until quite recently,
the essential freedom of man was the
guiding principle of SDS. While working
to increase freedom in society, SDS al-
ways tried to manage its internal affairs
by extending the maximum freedom to
its members. Participatory 'democracy
was clumsy and inefficient, but SDS paid
the concept more than lip service at its
own meetings.
Over the last two years or so, SDS has
been on a steady decline towards totali-
tarianism. It began with the slow change
from participatory democracy .to Soviet-
style democratic centralism where a small
ruling elite makes decisions which are
then imposed upon the membership after
a poorly staged debate.

SDS'S LATEST attack on freedom came
Tuesday when the Michigan chapter
decided to close its meetings to the press.
At the same time when most university
student groups were fighting for open
meetings and student participation in
decision making on all levels of the Uni-
versity, SDS decided that the public had
no right to know how its affairs are con-
The organization justifies its actions
on the grounds that what they call "the
bourgeois press" distorts SDS's activities
in coverage. However, SDS seems to de-
fine "the bourgeois press" as iany news-
naner which has had the tmeritv to dis-

So, it becomes necessary to judge John-
son by other standards than his own. And
evenby these standards the Johnson Ad-
ministration fares no better.
The first ingredient of a good President
is that he must be able to recognize the
urgency of the problems that face him.
He must devote his creative energies and
the nation's resources to coping with the
most vital of the country's needs.
Johnson failed to perceive the pressing
urgency of the deplorable conditions the
nation has foisted upon black Americans.
His early civil rights achievements were
important steps to secure legal rights for
black citizens. But in 1965 the nation's
attention and financial resources were
turned toward Vietnam and the necessary
steps toward economic equality were
never pursued.
THE UBIQUITOUS ghetto riots in the
summer of 1967 should have persuaded
Johnson to attempt once more the fight
for Congressional approval of urgently
needed programs with adequate funds.
The recalcitrance of Congress does not
excuse the President's diffidence in seek-
ing bold new measures. One of Lnydon
Johnson's sins was his willingness to
compromise with Congress, his eagerness
in facing political realities.
Certainly the obduracy of Congress
cannot be used to defend the Johnson
foreign policy. And the war in Vietnam
has been a failure of such cosmic pro-
portions that it was enough to ruin the
whole Johnson tenure by itself. Apologists
for the President like David Brinkley say
that Johnson made a mistake by getting
us, into Vietnam, but this one failure
should be weighed against "fifty suc-
This kind of calculus does not show a
sensitivity to the importance of Vietnam.
Certainly, Johnson's legislative boxscore
shows some impressive gains, particularly
in the fields of education and the fight
against air polution.
But the very minimal effect that all of
these measures have had on our individ-
ual lives can in no way compensate for
30,000 American lives lost in a mistake in
Southeast Asia. The increased monies
that have been won for education cannot
be applauded when we are annually wast-
ing $30 billion in a senseless war.
A SUCCESSFUL President in the last
five years would have understood the
urgency of the problems of black
America, the crisis in the cities, the need
of poor people, and hunger throughout
the world were of such importance that
we could not possibly afford to financej
military adventures in Vietnam.
Another measure of a good President is
his strength. The ability to stand the heat
of political battle. The capacity to tole-
rate dissent, the grace to act firmly and
with dignity amid howling criticism. The
courage to admit mistakes and , start
Despite all his lust for omnipotence
and his ramrod approach to legislative
behavior, for all his political acumen and
understanding of raw political power,
Lyndon Johnson was not a President who
possessed the necessary strength to rule
HIS STUBBORNESS and intransigence
in defending his Vietnam policy
shows not strength but the superficial
confidence of a bully. His weakness was
never more pathetically portrayed than
in the Spock-Coffin "conspiracy" charges
that carried the worst stench of the Mc-
Carthy era.
Johnson's relations with the intellec-

tual community demonstrated that he did
not have the strength to act with dignity
under criticism. His invidious role in pre-
venting a peace plank in the Democratic
Party platform do not bespeak a strong
And finally, the ultimate failure is the
lack of sufficient insight or courage to
admit the mistake of Vietnam despite
the consequences it has had for both the
nation and himself. This failure was
probably best shown up when the only
second thoughts about Vietnam that his
advisor Walt Rostow could muster about
the war were that we did not start fight-
ing a couple years earlier.
'M- _ 4-U - - - _ 1- ?- A 4- 1- - r trl


Somehow the Arab and Israeli fences have to be mended

The author is editor and pub-
lisher of I. F. Stone's Weekly,
now published bi-weekly. The
article is from the Jan. 13 num-
O NE WAY to approach the
Middle Eastern crisis isto
recognize that Israel is an island
in a hostile sea. Its only swift and
sure access to the rest of the world
is by air. You cannot go by train
from Cairo to Tel Aviv's neigh-
boring city Jaffa, as you still could
in 1945 when I first visited Pale-
stine, nor take a taxi from Jeru-
salem to Amman or from Haifa
to Beirut, or to Damascus, as I
still could in three memorable
trips in 1947.
There is no exit by land from
Israel today; the sea route is slow,
and in time of war rendered in-
secure by Soviet supplied naval
vessels in the hands of the Egyp-
tians and by the new presence of
the Soviet navy itself in the Medi-
terranean. Only the air is Israel's
open door to the rest of the world.
More than any other nation today
it is the child of the air age. Its
swift victory in the six day war
last year was a lightning victory
by airpower. A major element in
its balance of payments, the tour-
its trade, depends on the air. By
air it is only a few hours from
New York, Londonand Paris.
In the days of the Romans and
centuries later of the great Arab
empires in North Africa and
Spain, it took slow and arduous
months for Jewish pilgrims and
poets to reach the Holy Land. To-
day only a few hours separates
Israel from its Jewish supporters
in the outside world. Perhaps most
fundamentally of all, the air alone
saves Israel from the claustro-
phobia and despair of a nation be-
sieged ever since its birth 20 years
Arab guerrillas is that lifeline. It
is as vulnerable as a man's jugular
vein. Israel's national ! airline, El
Al, owns seven jets. When one was
hi-jacked in Rome early last year
and another attacked in Athens
a few weeks ago, the Arab guer-
rillas hit Israel's most sensitive
point. This was no sporadic shell-
ing of a border settlement or even
the bombing of a crowded Jeru-
salem market. The threat, the re-
percussions and the possibilities
were of a far graver order.
El Al is one of the few national
airlines which is in the black. It
would only take a few unsuccess-
ful attacks to frighten away much
of its business; what the Arab
guerrillas could not do at Israel's

well-guarded main airport in Lyd-
da, they might do abroad. The
next step would be attacks on
other airlines which fly into Is-
I can still remember my own
desperate feelings in Paris, on my
way to Palestine on the eve of the
1948 war, when the airlines stop-
ped flying into Lydda and getting
there depended on a chance lift on
a special Haganah plane from
Geneva. To cut the air link would
be to close an iron ring around
IT IS FOOLISH in this per-
spective to ask why Israel reta-
liated against Lebanon, its one
moderate Arab neighbor and the
only one which has done litte or
no fighting against it, the only
neighboring Arab State which has
protected its own Jewish minority
from persecution in the blind
furies unleashed by three Arab-
Israeli wars.
The, reprisal was not against
the Lebanon. It was against the
Arab air lines, and - to speak
frankly - the British companies
which insure them and the Amer-

reprisal raid. Its magnitude, de-
spite the sensational success in
carrying it off without any loss
of life, was bound to seem so dis-
proportionate as to evoke con-
To strike at Lebanon half Chris-
tian in population, still substan-
tially French in culture, was bound
to arouse traditional protective
sympathies in the Vatican and in
Paris. It would be just as well for
Jewish spokesmen to keep their
cool about the reactions of Pope
Paul and de Gaulle, and not make
more enemies. The feeling of Rome
for the ancient Christian com-
munities of the Lebanon is as na-
tural as those of the Jews for
The first point of repair should
be with Lebanon, for its success
in welding Christian and Moslem
communities ipto a stable nation
is a model for what must sooner or
later develop in some form be-
tween Israel and the Palestinian
Arabs if there is to be peace in the
Middle East.
Indeed at a time when Ulster's
bloody battles between Catholic

it justified by the homelessness
of the surviving Jews from the
Nazi camps and the bitter scenes
when refugee ships sank, or sank
themselves, when refused admis-
sion to Palestine.
The best of Arab youth feels the
same way; they cannot forget the
atrocities committed by us against
villages like Deir Yassin, nor the
uprooting of the Palestinian Arabs
from their ancient homeland, for
which they feel the same deep ties
of sentiment as do so many Jews,
however assimilated elsewhere.
We made the Palestinian Arabs
homeless to, make a home for our
own people. That is the simple
truth as history will see it, and
until we make amends and re-
settle the refugees and create a
new political framework in which
Jew and Arab can live together
in a new and greater Palestine
there will be no peace. This is a
tragic quarrel of brothers, re-
quiring for its resolution that heal-
ing double vision which may at
last enable each to see with pity
the all too human fears and feat-.

.%SW.t~:~.vv. v. . . . . . . . . ......... . . . .
Self pity and self-righteousness, the psychic counterparts of the siege, can
only block a solution. Just as the lofty sky is Israel's physical way out, so
its political and spiritual way out must be tor ise a higher plane of under-
standing. To do so is to clear the way for the political initiatives which can
alone free it from isolation.
immisis sag isslis a-i#RiiME #A5EAM msm W~ m m m......................:.:.:.:.:.:,:.:.:.::.. . . . . . . . . . . .astasilaisas~:2;~i~semn~i

ence among Israel, the Palestinian
Arabs and the Jordanians, with
access to the sea for Jordan and
the West Bank. The foundation
for such a political settlement
must be a major effort to end the
Arab refugee problem once and for
all time. To this the world Jewish
community must show the same
generosity we have shown our own
uprooted people. So long as more
than a million Palestinians live in
homeless misery there will be no
peace for Israel, and there should
be no peace of mind for world
Jewry. This is the wrong we must
I believe that Charles W. Yost,
the American diplomat Nixon has
recalled from retirement to act as
the U.S. representative at the
United Nations, is well suited by
experience, insight and humanity
to further this cause of recon-
ciliation. I recommend his article
on the 1967 war, "How It Began,"
in. the January issue of "Foreign
Affairs" and the article he wrote
just before his appointment for
the January, 1969, issue of "The
tlantlc Monthly," "Israel and The
Arabs: The Myths That Block
- The Middle East is not South-
east Asia. The Middle East is still
the cross-roads of the world.,Only
Berlin could be a more dangerous
place for a confrontation of the
nuclear superpowers.
Moscow for all their rivalry are
soberly aware of the dangers. If
Israel and the Arabs cannot agree,
some solution will have to be im-
posed which can allow both to
leave in peace. The die-hards on
both sides feel this settlement ap-
proaching, and would like to upset
it with desperate action. The Bei-
rut affair must be seen in this
perspective, too. The fanatical
agree only in stalling for time.
But it is a myth, as Yost wrote
in "The Atlantic Monthly," to be-
lieve that time works in anyone's
favor in the Middle East. "A settle-
ment during coming months on
tle basis of the November reso-
lution may still be feasible," Yost
wrote. "Later it may not be. Pro-
vocation and counter-provocation
may become so shocking and in-
tolerable that compromise will be
politically out of the question.
If the parties cannot themselves
come to a settlement, it will be
high time for the UN, with Great
Power backing, to take the ini-
tiative. . . . After twenty years, so
many dead, so much waste and
suffering, world peace more and
more threatened, there is no time
to lose." To this we can only say


ican companies which finance
them. It was struck at the nerve
center and main air gateway of
the Arab world, the Beirut air-
port. It sought by damaging the
Arab airlines and their financial
links in London and New York to
warn the avation world that air-
ports had best be kept safe for all
nations, Israel included.
These are the blunt truths of
the Beirut affair, and this is a
message which had best get a full
debate in the air age. For airports
can easily become a new and crit-
ical point in all the various short-
of-war struggles which afflict a
cantankerous and quarrelsome
THE PRICE PAID by Israel was
a political victory for the Arab
guerrilla movements. Israel has
never been as isolated as it is to-
day in the wake of its unanimous
condemnation by the Security
Council. The Israeli -cabinet, ac-
cording to reports in Israel's most
respected newspaper "Haaretz,"
was deeply split on the eve of the

and Protestant in Ireland show
that even the embers of Crom-
well's cruel time still smolder,
Lebanon seems to be about the
only place in the 'world (look at
Belgium torn between Fleming
and Walloon, and at French Can-
ada!) where bi-national and mul-
ti-natioinal solutions are working
smoothly. Something of the sort
must come in a reconstructed
Palestine of Jewish and Arab
states in peaceful co-existence. To
bring it about Israel and the Jew-
ish communities of the world must
be willing to look some unpleasant
truths squarely in the face, and.
to rise to heights of magnanimity
which could write the finest chap-
ter in the history of a great people.
the Arab guerrillas are doing to us
what our terrorists and saboteurs
of the Irgun, Stern and Haganah
did to the British. Another is to
be willing to admit that their mo-
tives are as honorable as were
ours. As a Jew, even I felt revul-
sion against the terrorism, I felt

ures of the Ither, who is only the
mirror image of ourselves, tightly
embraced in hate, where love alone
can free.
SELF PITY and self-righteous-
ness, the psychic counterparts of
the siege, can only block a solu-
tion. Just as the lofty sky is Is-
rael's physical way out, so its
political and spiritual way out
must- be to rise a higher plane of
understandiig. To do so is to clear
the way for the political initiatives.
which can alone frfe it from isola-
If Israel wishes to avoid an im-'
posed solution, then it must come
forward with alternative construc-
tive proposals of its own. These
should be seen not as giving away
bargaining cards in advance but
as a means of preventing that
polarization of sentiment in both
the Jewish and Arab communities
the die-hards on both;sides seek,
whether Arab guerrillas or mili-
tary-minded Israeli.
In some form or another this
must involve a federated co-exist-



Faculty meetings and

the student will

The author is a member of
the Radical Caucus and a some-
time contributor to The Daily.
the midst of a campaign to
abolish distribution and language
requirements in the College of Lit-
erature, Science, and Arts. The
"e d u c a t i o n a l" impossibility of
forcing students to be liberally ed-
ucated is painfully common know-
ledge to. most students. But there
is a much more important issue
involved here than feasibility. In
the past few years students - like
other segments of the population
- have been recognizing and re-
acting to the almost total lack of
control they have over their own
lives and institutions. Over their
housing. Over curriculum. Over
The drive against distribution
and language requirements is a
reflection of our awakening. We
are not quietly pleading with the
LS&A faculty to change its edu-
cational philosophies. We are as-
serting our right to abolish the

our emphasis on student mobili-
zation rather than simply on fac-
ulty benevolencefor two reasons:
- All history (including U-M his-
tory) reveals few groups which
divest themselves of power with-
out pressure, and
- Few groups (students not ex-
cepted) can win a n d maintain
power for themselves unless they
do so on the basis of their own
ON MONDAY, the Radical Cau-
cus took a step toward asserting
some elementary student rights.
As usual, the LS&A faculty was
assembling for its monthly meet-
ing. As usual, they were preparing
to discuss a matter concerning
students (the requirements). And
as usual students were barred from
the meeting. It is no secret why
the faculty chooses to meet in
secret if it possibly can. In last
year's row over classified research
one faculty head mapped it out
for us nicely:
.Very few of us find 'gold-
fish bowl' living at all comfortable.
When, as good intentioned admin-

Radical Caucus nevertheless sent
some twenty of its members to
Monday's meeting. We arrived
early, so as not to cause too much
"fuss" on entering. We were nice
young ladies and gentlemen. None
of us screamed or yelled or did
other unseemly things. We just
sat back and watched. The fac-
ulty entered, looked around; turn-
ed collectively pale, and scurried
out the exits. A low frustration-
anxiety tolerance I guess.
The next day, the Daily carried
an editorial by Ron Landsman.
The auto-destruct of the meeting
(which could have opened "more
lines of communication between
students and faculty"). is seen by
Landsman as the result of a "i e-
grettable blunder on the part of
both the faculty members a n d
students involved."
WHAT DID the facuity do
wrong?tProf. Gold shouldn't have
moved to adjourn. No chance for
discussion. Thatnall? Not quite.
Gold's motion was bad, but the
real problem was the overwhelm-
ing "uncompromising vote" in its

ulty, we learn from Landsman,
could have let us stay without
losing any of its power or sacri-
ficing any of its future prerga-
tives, "which option the faculty
should have appreciated." They
could have tricked the students,
but they blew it. Too bad. Oh, well
... maybe next time.
Now what about the students?
Landsman understands the de-
mand ("for a full and open meet-
ing, presumably with students al-
lowed to speak") and he even ad-
mits that it "is not unreasonable.'
Fine. ". . . but the students were
frightfully impolitic." Frightfully
impolitic! Also devoid, of "diplo-
What should we have done? We
should have made "contact with
Hays or other sympathetic pro-
fessors before t h e meeting" to
"seek some accomodation allowing
t h e students admittance .. ."
This kind of diplomacy, Lands-
man seems to imply, is responsible
for the fact that already "both
the Senate Assembly and the col-
lege's own curriculum committees
have opened their meetings to the
n hih ' _".

"closed" meeting, as we did Mon-
The faculty is willing (if not
exactly eager) to make some
changes, so long as it remains ab-
solutely clear that the, essential
"change-making" power remains
with them. The Radical Caucus
members understand this - and
since our essential aim is the mo-
bilization of a student movement
to take such power into student
hands for student power, not be-
nevolent despotism, we wish 'it
clear, for example, that closed
meetings will not be tolerated by
those whose lives are discussed
there. That requirement will not
be permitted by those of whom
they are required. Landsman has
finallyr (ifrunconsciously) uncov-
ered the naked faet that the strug-
gle between the ideologies of con-
trol from below and of control
from above is not a "blunder" r
a misunderstanding soluble by "a
little reasoning by both sides" but
a conflict of perceived interests.
That conflict will be resolved in
favor of the students only when
students choosentosmarshall in
their interests the kind of deter-
*""+4ncs4-h hihfam lia ont



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