"What is most tragic about Vietnam is he decade of wasted opportunity that brought us to our present plight," Merle Fainsod, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor, told members of Radcliffe's graduating class in his Baccalaureate address yesterday. "We have supported a succession of unpopular military regimes in South Vietnam because they were opposed to the Communists; we have only fitfully and sporadically addressed ourselves to the social grievances which movements like the Viet Cong to bring peasants and others to their cause," he said.
Fainsod, a distinguished Russian scholar and an authority on the Soviet political system, stressed the inadequacy of military force in dealing with the current situation in South Vietnam. "Unless ... we stand for meaningful programs of improvement in village welfare, our future welfare, our future in what the Chinese Communists call the countryside of the world may turn out to be dark indeed," he predicted.
Speaking in the pulpit of Memorial Church. Fainsod told his daughter. Mary Fainsod '66, and 205 of her classmates that "each of us has a role to play, and we play it by action or inaction." He declared that although "there are some among my old fogy contemporaries who ... deplore the extremity of your views ... I would rather have you active and thoughtfully involved, whatever be your cause, than to see you passive and indifferent, concerned only with your own private affairs."