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August 10, 1965 - Image 2

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1965-08-10

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Seventy-Fif thbYear

Why We 're

Wr in

Vet Nam

. _

Where Opinions Are r. 420 MAYNARD ST., A ARO, MIc.
Truth Willprevasil 44MYADS. xrAzoR rx

NEWs PHONI!: 764-0552

Editorials printed in The Michigan Daily express the individual opinions of staff writers
or the editors. This must be noted in all reprints.
Protestors Should Be Careful
aWhen Usin Civil Dsobedience
"THE PHILOSOPHY that a person may (IVIL RIGHTS disobedience arrests are
-if his cause is labeled 'civil rights' or still the predictable mass retaliation
'states rights' - determine for himself of 'the society. But the protestors are not
what law and court decisions are morally here objecting to the social structure as a
right or wrong and either obey or refuse whole, and so civil rights disobedience
to obey them according to his own deter- seems somehow patently unfair.
mination, is a philosophy that is foreign The real problem, only implied in John-
to our 'rule-of-law' theory of govern- son's statement, is that this incongruity
ment." has its effect on the protestors them-
Federal DistrictJudge Frank M. John- selves. Their only effective instrument
son said that one week ago in ruling on does seem to be civil disobedience. But
the cases of some 150 civil rights demon- the methods of civil disobedience, gener-
strators arrested in Montgomery, Alaba- ally inconveniencing everyone, and the
ma, last March. The statement is of usually complete retaliation the society
course important legally for the effects emposes, from policemen to television
it will have on the fate of civil rights coverage, tend to greatly extrapolate the
demonstrators arrested in the South. But protestors' grievances and objectives.
it is even more important ethically, rais- These extrapolated grievances natural-
ing the question of the moral validity of ly lead to critical conclusions about the
an important protest instrument, that of society and its legal mores; "the philoso-
civil disobedience. phy that a person may . . . determine for
In considering the u nhimself what laws.. . are morally right or
ncosidgg.. question of thisw
validity, the question of whether or not
civil disobedience is an ethically accept- COUNTERARGUMENTS to criticisms of
able means to an end, the question of to the use of civil disobedience usually
what particular end the disobedience is arebased on the vague concept of the
to be put cannot be escaped. For asjustifiability of "getting back" at society
Gandhi, reputedly the originator of the for its discriminatory crimes. In fact this
technique, pointed out, the means to the loose allegation seems to be little more
end are the end itself in its initial stages. than semi-intellectual apologia for the
END of the Indian disobedience use of powerful generalized means to at-
THE ENDof the Inian iobeIdice ta a specific end.
riots was the emancipation of India The point of all this is certainly not to
from British rule. As such, the technique urge people to stop protesting-far from
was developed to protest the entire na- it. It is rather to urge protestors to take
ture of a society, the complete rejection a more rational approach to their task
of it, and to this it was and is ideally than that which led to Johnson's state-
suited. ment.
Ethical problems seem to arise, how- Protestors employing civil disobedience,
ever, when the technique of civil dis- no matter what the cause, must realize
obedience is applied to situations which that they wield a powerful weapon, even
do not entail the complete rejection of a if their only one, one which attacks far
social system, as in the civil rights move- more than they might intend. And when
ment. the society responds clumsily it is be-
There no protest is being made against cause it is giving, measure for measure,
the nation's basic governmental struc- what it is receiving.
ture or key facets of its economy. Rather Above all it should be realized that
the protest is selective, objecting to the none of this is reason for throwing up
discrimination in government or in the one's hands and deciding that the final
economy, arbiter of justice is the individual's be-
But as suggested above, civil disobed- liefs. It should be the protestor's aim to
lence is an unfortunately clumsy tool, alter the laws of society, not to do away
not really suited to selective protest. It is with them altogether as Johnson's
no surprise, for example, that the arrests charges evidently were advocating.
in. the Berkeley riots were contemplated
and looked on as a mark of distinction; IT IS DIFFICULT to say without sound-
for at Berkeley our society was rejected ing defeatist, but it is a fact: even the
as a package and unselectively and the most anarchic of us work within a sys-
mass retaliation of the society could be tem. And the very act of protesting a
expected. Disobedience was . the perfect system of laws makes it mandatory, not
weapon. that they should be abolished, but that
new ones should be imposed.
Any other solution is to reject the value
of society itself, and, advisable as that
may sometimes seem, it is no solution to
Second class postage paid at Ann Arbor, Mich. the civil rightsproblem or to any other.
Publlshed daily Tuesday thruugh Saturday morning. -LEONARD PRATT
i ..

s.. 7,
,t' ti44

EDITOR'S NOTE: Following
is the testimony of Prof. Robert
C. Howes at the public hearing
on/ Viet Nam held last week in
Detroit by Reps. Charles Diggs
(D) and William Broomfield
(R). Howes is a member of the
history department at Oakland
University, Rochester, Mich.
HE HISTORIAN, in approach-
ing a problem as difficult as
the Vietnamese crisis of today,
naturally looks to the past for
evidence to guide him in the pres-
I do not pretend to be an "ex-
pert" on Southeast Asia, nor do
I pretend to have the final an-
swer to the dilemma which faces
the United States in Southeast
Asia today; however, I would like
to address myself to the prob-
lem on the basis of my exper-
iences in China during and after
World War II, and on the basis
of my studies of Chinese and
Russian history and of the world
Communist movement.
I should like to discuss briefly
the following topics: (1) the na-
ture of the war in Viet Nam; (2)
reasons for opposing this policy,
and (3) possible alternative Amer-
ican policies.
war in Viet Nam? At least as
early as the 1920's the Commu-
nists (Russian and Asian alike)
realized that the phenomenon
known as the "war of national
liberation" offered them tremen-
dous possibilities in Asia.
Now it is simply not accurate
to write off such wars as "Com-
munist plots" or "Communist-led
insurrections." One needs only to
call to mind the sorry history of
Western imperialism in Asia in
the 19th and 20th centuries to
understand that these so-called
"wars of national liberation" were
just that.
An example in point was the
Chinese Communist take-over of
the 1930's and 1940's. I think it
is obvious that the Communist
revolution was essentially an in-
digenous affair. Of course the Chi-
nese Communists acquired their
ideology from abroad (so did the
A m e r i c a n revolutionaries); of
course there was a certain amount
of Russian involvement in the
Chinese revolution, although it
appears to me that this involve-
ment has been greatly exaggerat-
BUT IN THE FINAL analysis,
the Chinese Communist revolu-
tion was organized and carried
through by a group of very able
and dedicated Chinese, and it
would have been impossible for
any nation to change the course
of this revolution without making
a major commitment of military
forces, in other words, without
making war against China.
Let us assume, for the sake of
discussion, that the United States
had been willing in the late 1940's
to undertake a massive military
intervention in China. It is doubt-
ful, in my opinion, if-given the
situation at the time-we could
have pacified China with our mili-
tary forces.
But even if we had been able
to pacify China and maintain
Chiang Kai-shek in power, such
an arrangement would have been
a purely temporary one, and in the
long run we would have been
forced to bring about drastic re-
forms in .the Chinese economic
and political systems-perhaps re-
forms similar to those pushed
through by the American Occupa-
tion in Japan after the war.
In other words, it would have
been impossible for us to really
support Chiang Kai-shek. We
would have been driven to rely
upon either a drastically reformed
Nationalist government or we
would have had to institute a
government of another type.

THIS BRINGS US now closer to
the Vietnamese situation. When
the war ended in 1945, Ho Chi
Minh and his followers were prob-
ably the one most popular politi-
cal force in Viet Nam. They had
consistently opposed the worst
features of French colonialism,
they had consistently opposed the
Japanese, and in 1945 they op-
posed the return of the French
Had the United States, with its
vast power and prestige in the
Far East in 1945 chosen to sup-
port the movement of Ho Chi
Minh and his fellow Nationalists-
Communists, as we had been do-
ing in the last months of the war
against Japan, there is little doubt
in my mind but that a strong
nationalistic (and Communist) re-
gime would have been establish-
ed in Viet Nam-a regime which,
although it would certainly have
been counted among the allies of
the Sino-Soviet bloc, might have
been inclined towards preserving
a minimally good, friendly rela-
tionship with the United States.
I feel that the movement head-
ed by Ho Chi Minh did have the
support of large numbers of the
Vietnamese people, who saw in it
a nromise of indenndence and of

which more Vietnamese could turn
to than any other.
BUT WE DID NOT choose to
support Ho Chi Minh. The French
attempted to reestablish their col-
onial position in Indo-China, and
it was only after years of bloody
warfare that they were forced to
withdraw and to subscribe to the
Geneva agreements in 1954. And
just why thesUnitedStates was
unwilling to subscribe to this is
difficult for me to say. I presume
that we refused because we were
so strongly committed to our post-
war policy of the containment of
I would like to make a few com-
ments on this policy. Looking at
the history of the last 20 years
as objectively as one can, it seems
to me that this policy worked quite
well in Europe. It seems to me
that it has worked less well in
In Europe, to begin with, the
line between east and west was
quite clearly drawn as a result
of the military outcome of the
war. There were a few areas, of
course, in which this line was
rather hazy. One was in Greece,
another was in Turkey, a third
was in Berlin. The United States
and its allies held firm here in
the face of the threat of expand-
ing Russian power, and obviously
we were successful in these areas.
IN THE FAR EAST the situa-
tion was different. In China we
were unable to stem the tide of
Communism; in Korea, working
with the United Nations, we were
able, at considerable cost in lives
and fortune, to stop the spread
of Communist power.
I think all would admit that
this was not a satisfactory solu-
tion to the problem in Korea, but
probably- most would agree that it
was necessary for the United
States and the United Nations to
challenge this rather bold and
barefaced challenge to the author-
ity of the United Nations.
Now in Indo-China, in Viet
Nam, it is clear to me that the
situation was different-that is,
it was different from the Korean
situation. It was different in that
the line set by the Geneva Con-
ference in 1954 was not a line
guaranteed by the United Na-
tions; in a sense, it was a tem-
porary line established for purely
military purposes, it was a line
north of which the Vietminh were
expected to withdraw and south
of which the opposing forces were
expected to withdraw. I don't
think it was ever intended that
this would be a permanent divi-
sion, but that is beside the point.
NOW, OF COURSE, it is diffi-
cult really for me to understand
exactly what happened following
the Geneva Conference. I think it
is clear, however, that with the
collapse of French power in the
south (where the Americans were
becoming increasingly involved
after the beginning of the Korean
action), there were the makings
of a government which, with some
,hope of success, would be able to
oppose the government of the
The Geneva agreements had
called for elections to be held in
1956. It is apparent that Ho
Chi Minh and his followers as-
sumed that they had won the
war in 1954, because they felt
that, if elections were held, they
would be able to take over all
the country.
Now, of course, the South Viet-
namese government was unwill-
ing to participate in these elec-
tions, and in this refusal it ap-
parently enjoyed the support of
the United States.
HENCE, in view of the govern-
ment in Saigon, the division of
Viet Nam was, in a sense, a per-

manent one. There was a South
Vietnamese government and there
was a North Vietnamese govern-
ment; the South Vietnamese gov-
ernment feared that, given elec-
tions, it would lose power to the
government of North Viet Nam,
which, as I have stated earlier,
probably enjoyed the support of
the majority of the Vietnamese-
although this is of course very dif-
ficult to determine with any cer-
There were, of course, adherents
of Ho Chi Minh in South Viet
Nam. Since these adherents were
not prepared to accept the South
Vietnamese government, they at-
tempted by means of guerrilla ac-
tivity, subversion, and terrorism
to bring about the downfall of
the government of South Viet
This has led us to the present
situation, because the Viet Cong
were successful in taking over
large areas of South Viet Nam.
These, we are told, now amount
to about 80 per cent of the area
of South Viet Nam, leaving the
government which we support in
control of only about 20 per cent
of the area of South Viet Nam.
IT SEEMS TO ME, therefore,
that this must have been a very
dynamic group, a group which
mn.. not nl mm~ian, afartivn

the majority of the people of
South Viet Nam-to say nothing
of the people of North Viet Nam.
It therefore seems to me that
we face a situation which is in
many ways analogous to that
which we faced in China between
1945 and 1949. We have thrown
in our lot with a government
which apparently is unable to hold
the support of the majority of
WE FIND ourselves aligned
against a very dynamic, aggres-
sive force which seemingly has
the support of large numbers of
Vietnamese. It seems to me that
this is the basic error of our
We have refused to recognize
the fact that the Communists have
seized leadership of the "war of

mitting acts of war without hav-
ing declared war. We are com-
mitting acts which are viewed by
many people as atrocities, for we
are using weapons which are in-
effective against guerrilla soldiers
but which are most effective in
killing civilians.
Furthermore, I feel that our
policy is detrimental to the best
interests of the United States
because, given our overwhelming
preoccupation with Viet Nam, we
are tending to neglect other areas
of our foreign policy which, in
the long run, will be of much im-
portance to our nation as is the
outcome of the civil war in Viet
In this connection one might
mention our deteriorating rela-
tions with France, the danger pos-
ed by the Viet Nam situation to

-Associated Press
SOUTH VIETNAMESE troops administer a beating to a captured
Viet Cong guerrilla. The U.S., in fighting a movement supported
by more Vietnamese than support the government, has maneuvered

itself into a dangerous position
like the best way out.
national liberation"; and if this
is the case, we face an almost
insoluble problem, because in or-
der to oppose Communism we
must also oppose nationalism.
This is not the case in some
other Asian countries: it is not
the case in Japan, in the Philip-
pines, or in India. But I think
the best example we have, next
to China, of Communist seizure
of leadership in a nationalist
movement, is in Viet Nam. There-
fore, I find it most difficult to
support the actions of our gov-
erment in Viet Nam.
ported them in the early days
of the regime of Ngo Dinh Diem
in South Viet Nam. It appeared
as though his regime had a good
chance of gaining the support of
the population, that it would-be
an aggressive reformist govern-
ment. It seemed that quite possi-
bly it might be a viable force in
Viet Nam.
But despite the effort we gave
this regime, it was simply un-
able to maintain itself in South
Viet Nam, and it is obvious that it
would have collapsed long ago had
we not continued to prop it up.
I feel that we should have been
willing to face the fact that the
government of South Viet Nam
simply was not accepted = by the
South Vietnamese, and we should
have been prepared to modify
our policy accordingly.
Instead, we have with increas-
ing effort on our part attempted
to prop up this regime, using
as our stated motive, as our
cause, as our reason for this ac-
tion, our fear of the expansion
of Communism in South Viet Nam
and accusing the North Vietna-
mese-and finally, the Chinese
Communists-of subversion.
LOOKING at the situation now,
in view of the assumptions I
have made about it-and of course
I may be wrong on some of these
-I would like to make the fol-
lowing observations. It seems to
me that our present policy in
Viet Nam is wrong for at least
three reasons.
" We are inflicting great in-
jury upon the Vietnamese action.
We are inflicting death and de-
struction upon this people whom,
I am sure all of us would agree,
we have no reason to hate, no
reason to kill, no reason to de-
stroy. We are doing this in the
name of anti-Communism, yt
every bomb we drop, every sol-
dier we send to Viet Nam,
strengthens the cause of Commu-
nism there, strengthens the ap-
peal of the Communist ideology,
strengthens the conviction of the
Oriental-Vietnamese and Chinese
.--that +he white man. Panriaill

in Viet Nam-and the UN looks
the maintenance of the detente
with Russia, the apparent failure
of the Alliance for Progress to
live up to its early expectations,
and our worsening relationships
with Indonesia.
In choosing to press the war in
Viet Nam, and especially in the
decision to bomb North Viet Nam,
our government has set a prece-
dent which I feel certain we would
be most unhappy to see followed
by┬░ other countries, under other
An example in point was the
French bombing of the Tunisian
village of Sakiet-Sidi-Youssef in
1958. The United States certain-
ly did not approve of this ac-
tion on the part of the French,
yet it might be argued that it was
an action taken under greater
provocation than that which has
led us to institute almost daily
bombings of North Viet Nam.
Yet another argument which
can be raised against our pres-
ent policy in Viet Nam is the
following: In choosing to follow
the course we are now pursuing
in Viet Nam, the United States is,
in effect, putting the world on
notice that it is prepared to in-
tervene in any country in which
there seems to be the possibility
of a "Communist" take-over.
What would our policy be to-
ward Indonesia, for instance, if
Sukarno were to die? The Com-
munist Party of Indonesia might
well be in a position to make a
play for national power. Would we,
in such a case, be prepared to
invade Indonesia? We must, I be-
lieve, realize sooner or later that
we cannot determine the nature
of all governments everywhere in
the world.
f I think that our policy in
Viet Nam is wrong because it is
morally indefensible. I do not
think that we can in good con-
science claim that we are de-
fending the Vietnamese people
against aggressors. When we say
that we are fighting the Viet Cong
we are saying that we are fight-
ing the Vietnamese, for the. Viet
Cong are the Vietnamese.
The moral issue can be stated
in another way .Do we have a
fighting chance of defeating the
Viet Cong, i.e., do we have a
chance of defeating the Commu-
nist-led nationalist movement in
Viet Nam? If the answer to this
question is yes, then one might
argue that all the loss of life
(American and Vietnamese) and
all the wealth destroyed in doing
so would be well spent, although
I should not care to so argue.
But this is my point: I seri-
ously question that we can de-
stroy the Viet Cong without un-
dertaking military operations of
such a magnitude that a world
war (Tnitd States vs .China and

right to demand that our govern-
ment work out some alternative
to a policy which I believe to be
But perhaps I should make
some suggestions as to possible
alternatives to our present policy.
(I might add here that of course
I do not know what our govern-
ment is doing in the diplomatic
field, I do not know what over-
tures fordnegotiation, etc., are
being made.)
" We should make it more
clear than it is now is that our
ultimate goal is to withdraw from
Viet Nam. Here the problem of
"prestige" arises. A government's
prestige rests as much on Its
ability to use its power wisely and
justly as it does on its possession
of this power. The United States
has the military power to destroy
all of Viet Nam. Butthe question
arises: What "might we lose if we
exercised this power? It seems to
me that in some circumstances a
great power can maintain (or
even increase) its prestige better
by refraining judiciously from us-
ing its power than by using its
power uselessly.s
# We should admit candidly to
the world that during the past few
months we have moved dangerous-
ly close to a major war but that
we refuse to be drawn into a major
war. We should proclaim that we
are prepared to do almost any-
thing to avert a major war. This,
it seems to me, would be a con-
cession on the part of our govern-
ment, an indication of our willing-
ness to compromise on Viet Nam.
And I believe that in the long run
we will have to compromise or
face a nuclear holocaust.
# Having stated to the wvorld
that we are very dissatisfied with
the escalation in Viet Nam we
might, with some hope of success,
appeal to the United Nations for
assistance. I am well aware of
some of the serious problems
which the United Nations faces
today, yet it seems to me that the
presence of the world body in Viet
Nam might somehow decrease the
tenseness and danger. which exist
perhaps it is not impossible to
resurrect the Geneva Agreement
of 1954. If a plebiscite under Unit-
ed Nations supervision were held,
it is probable that Ho Chi Min
would be the victor, but in any
case the United States would have
extricated itself from an extreme-
ly dangerous situation, we would
have maintained our "prestige,"
and the fate of Viet Nam would
have been decided in a manner
much preferable to the manner in
which it is now being solved.
In defense of this line- of rea-
soning, I believe that it should be
pointed out that there are dif-
ferent brands of Communism and
that there is some evidence which
indicates thatsHo Chi Minh's re-
gime would prefer not to be tied
too closely to Red China. More-
over, I maintain that a unified
Viet Nam under Ho Chi, Mnh
would not lead inevitably to th
fall of Thailand, Malaysia, Burma
and India to Communism, for in
these nations the Communists have
not succeeded in gaining the lead-
ership of a "war of national lib-
And this is the crux of the
matter. We must do our best to
support and encourage democratic
or semi-democratic regimes in
these nations; if we are successful
in this endeavor I do not feel that
a communist take-over in these
nations is inevitable.
THIS HISTORY of the Chinese
Communist revolution suggests to
me that in underdeveloped nations
the Communists can be success-
ful in gaining power if they seize
the leadership of the "war of na-
tional liberation."
The Communists under Ho Chi
Minh have been successful in seiz-
ing and holding the leadership of
the nationalist movement in Viet

Nam. The United States can re-
verse this fact only by undertak-
ing military operations of such
magnitude that either the Ameri-
can people will find such military
undertakings intolerable, or a
world war will ensue before the
people are aware of the gravity of
the' situation and the magnitude
of our involvement.
We should be concerned with
our "prestige" in the Vietnamese
situation; but we have an excel-
lent opportunity to strengthen our
prestige, not by increasing our
military commitment in Viet Nam,
but by announcing to the world
that we refuse to let the situation
escalate into a world war and that
we desire to turn the matter over
to the United Nations.
PERHAPS a plebiscite under
United Nations supervision - a
plebiscite in which Ho Chi Minh
might well win-would be the
most that we could expect as a
result of turning the matter over
to the United Nations. If this
were the case, we should accept
the fact that Ho Chi Minh had
won in Viet Nam, and we should
turn our major attention to
strengthening the democratic or
semi-democratic governments of
thneanatinn in which th Tonm.

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