Lacouture Attacks Taylor Testimony
French journalist Jean Lacouture, author of three books on Vietnam and a research fellow at Harvard, last night criticized General Maxwell Taylor's testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
Taylor stated Thursday that "resent American strategy is the best that has been suggested and that it is important to adhere to it."
"Taylor has reasons not to give the whole truth to the public," said Lacouture in a CRIMSON interview. "The bombings are really not effective at all; it is forcing the Viet Cong to more mainly at night, but that's not important."
The bombing does have the bad effect, however of recruiting people for the Viet Cong he said. "If you throw a stone on a pack of ants, they will run away But more will come back after the honey."
Lacouture contrasted Taylor's views with those of George F. Kennan, former ambassador to the Soviet Union and current University Fellow. He called Kennan's testimony, opposing escalation, "the wisest thing said there."
Twenty years of experience with Vietnam and seven personal visits there have given Lacouture an essentially pessimistic outlook. He took specific issue with much current U.S. strategy, including President Johnson's rural development proposal.
"Whites and capitalists cannot make a social revolution on Asian land, While their B-52's are striking," Lacouture asserted. He admitted that the U.S. could provide hospitals, schools, and food, but feared that social revolution is impossible.
"We tried to do it with French puppets--and General Ky is no less a puppet than Bao Dai--but it failed because it was a foreign importation."
Lacouture professed to have no easy solutions in Vietnam, but elaborated upon two suggestions that he has advocated in the current New York Review of Books: First the U.S. should deal directly with the National Liberation Front. "I don't speak of formal recognition," Lacouture insisted, "but the NLF should be one of the partners of the South Vietnamese government in any talks."
Lacouture has also urged the U.S. to reestablish constitutional legitimacy in Vietnam. "General Ky is a brave soldier, but he is nothing more than that. He is from the north and cannot find support in the south."
For this reason, Lacouture would like to see a coalition government in Saigon, comprised of representatives of the Buddhists. Catholics, NLF, and other power blocks. Such a coalition is feasible, he stated, because, "a process of democratization is at play in Vietnam."
Not even the North Vietnamese really believe American withdrawal is a prerequisite for talks, Lacouture concluded. But with the Viet Cong controlling four-fifths of the counrtyside, the U.S. knows it would now face "a definite loss of prestige at the conference table."