Senator Edward M. Kennedy '56 (D-Mass.) called last night for a "reordering of our priorities" in South Vietnam.
It is time "to wage a different kind of war" in which we place "human needs and values first," Kennedy told an over-flow audience at the Harvard Medical School. Our country must end its "reliance on sheer power," he said.
Kennedy charged that our political aims have been subverted by military ones. Our policy of "guns alone" is "planting within new generations the seeds of hate toward us," he said. "No great nation can claim to have won freedom and democracy for another people," Kennedy added, "if, in the process, the destruction of their land and a disregard for their pain was the hallmark of the effort."
"Nowhere has our failure been more clear than in the civilian medical area," said Kennedy, who is Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee on refugees. He called upon the private medical sector in this country and abroad to send "surgical teams" to face the crisis in Vietnam. The federal government should appropriate funds for additional hospital facilities and for a "massive innoculation and immunization program," he said.
Kennedy added that "unless we make a total commitment to real, not imaginary, land reform and to the elimination of corruption, this war can never be won."
Dr. John H. Knowles of the Massachusetts General Hospital drew the largest applause of the evening when he said, "We can best treat the wounds of the people of Vietnam by not inflicting them in the first place." Knowles recently visited Vietnam as a member of the Agency for International Development's inspection team.