THE EAST HOUSE DEBATE

The Mail

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

I am afraid that your reporter, who covered the East House debate on Vietnam, did a better job on covering Mr. Ellsberg's view of what I said than on reporting what I actually said.

My point was that even though I recognize the validity of many Administration arguments about the Vletcong, the role of North Vietnam, the bad effects of a U.S. defeat, etc., the present course of action in Vietnam, toward China, and toward revolutionary situations will lead even more surely to the calaminities the Administration tries to prevent.

At best, our policy will lead to a kind of military stalemate that would put us in full control of a war without prospects of political resolution, and make of us the target of anti-foreign Asian nationalism: i.e. give the Communists a chance of capturing at last Asian nationalism outside Vietnam.

At worst, our policy will lead to an unfavorable settlement that will cost us more than if it had been negotiated much earlier. In either case, we will have lost the initiative.

I did not say that "as Americans we are constantly faced with the problem of making a choice;" I said that we are faced with the Unamerican problem of choosing the least bad among various bad courses of action. To give up, in the best possible conditions, a hopeless situation so as to save our other chances strikes me as less bad than hanging on and compromising everything.

It may well be that it takes five full acts for tragedies to come to their fateful end, and that those like me, who want to spare us the last act are doomed to fail (it took the French seven years to realize what they had to do in Indochina and seven years again in Algeria). But I am afraid that it is at any rate too late to hope that the last act will give a happy end to the play. Stanley Hoffmann   Professer of Government