To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
The February 24 CRIMSON editorial on Vietnam reflects the penchant for procrastination and wishful thinking which has dogged American foreign policy throughout our nation's history and which is rightly denounced by all responsible students of foreign affairs. The editorial urges the United States to abandon its present military position in Southeast Asia in the hope that Ho Chi Minh with a few million communist Vietnamese will fight off the Chinese for us. I place no such faith in either Ho's strength or his integrity. In any event I feel it would be extremely imprudent to deliver the future of our interests in Asia from our own hands into the hands of any other power. What ever we want done we must do ourselves. The CRIMSON itself admits that "if China attacks Vietnam after the U.S. pulls out, that may be the time for another Korea." But that will be the time when we are fighting from Bangkok, not Saigon. For us, in the first instance at least, this is not a war "for the hearts and minds of men"; it is a war for land, land with which we can contain the Chinese. Procrastination can only leave us less land; hope can only become illusion.
What then is the objection to war now, war on as large a scale as may become necessary? Is it that our "military policy in South Vietnam has been a failure?" I agree. A more active policy is needed and is, according to the CRIMSON, being considered by the Administration. Is such a policy "proposing to save the falling military strategy by expanding the scope of that strategy?" No, in order to reach the strategic objective of containing China, it is proposing to adopt a new tactic, a tactic of escalation, in place of a falling tactic of limited aid. Is such a policy throwing "aside any pretense of American support of self-determination, freedom or peace?" In the long-run we want all three of these things. In the short-run they are impossible, and we would we do well to stop deluding ourselves by the belief that they are.
Finally, is such a policy shelving "Indefinitely the issues of poverty, unemployment, and civil rights?" I do not think that a strong policy in Vietnam demands this, but if it does, so be it. All our domestic problems would seem small indeed if the Chinese landed in Hawaii.
It is fine, as the CRIMSON suggests, to talk with Ho Chl Minh, but if "a united Vietnam will be communist," talk is all we can afford. There is no good solution. The Chinese want Vietnam; we do not want them to have it. An alliance with Cambodia and Indonesia against Thailand and Malaysia resulting in the absorption of the partners into the Chinese camp would be too easy for Mao Tse-tung if be controlled Vietnam. We must act with courage in order to avoid such a result. Trusting in our military might and determination we must act now to protect our interest in Southeast Asia. Forrest P. Chisman '66