America's dealings with Cuba and Vietnam will be the real test of "its wisdom and humanity," and a trial of America's adjustment to the emergence of socialism throughout the world, I. F. Stone said last night at Kirkland House.
U.S. Soviet policy is more clear-cut than its policy toward the two smaller countries because "mutual fear causes mutual restraint," the editor of I. F. Stone's Weekly, a Washington newsletter, added.
Instead, Stone said the U.S. should emphasize its responsibilities as "upholders of the First Amendment, the Bill of Rights, and our great ideals." He charged that America abandoned this responsibility in Cuba by choosing to further its own vested interests rather than the interests of the Cuban people.
Castro's Cuba is the only country where the U.S. has refused to permit dealings with both Cold War blocs, Stone said, adding that "we're not going to succeed on this basis." If America accepts Cuba's natural trend toward socialism, he continued, there is great room for American aid, know-how, and business ability on the Latin American Island.
Turning to the crisis in Vietnam, Stone described the "two Communist foreign policies" of the State Department, one in Europe and the second in Southeast Asia. Although the U.S. differentiates in its policy toward the European states, Stone asserted, "China, Vietnam, and Cambodia seem to all be in the same big pot."
This leads to some of "the worst plain and fancy lying Washington has ever seen," Stone continued. He illustrated this with several statements from leading "Cold Warriors." Secretary of State Dean Rusk once said that although Vietnam is progressing "it is not a full constitutional democracy." "If that isn't like Hans Christian Andersen!" Stone said.
Stone criticized the U.S. for the "semi-concentration camps that the official myth labels strategic hamlets." He warned that the U.S. would be wise to abandon its policy of "immobilization," and added, "we tend to forget the human element of suffering. This can only lead to our own moral imbecility and deterioration."