To the Editors of the CRIMSON:
It is indeed disappointing, in 1969, to again confront "Asian experts" proclaiming that the United States has simply become entangled in a morass, quagmire, or swamp. Furthermore, these scholars are not only constitutionally incapable of trying to understand the NLF and its goals, but they casually dismiss the Third World and its billion people with equal insensitivity. We can now understand how such naivete twenty years ago resulted in the mythical "loss of China."
Readers uninitiated in the mysteries of Asian Studies should not be misled by their plea that they "have lived in Asia and studied Asian histories and culture," thereby implying a vast well of wisdom. Among them there is precisely one (yes, 1) Vietnamese expert. The rest are "China hands" whose knowledge of China is largely limited (excepting Prof. Fairbank) to interviews of Chinese refugees, CIA and government documents, and similar contacts with the real China. For all intents and purposes, their China, i. e., Taiwan, is simply a distant suburb of Los Angeles.
More disturbing than their arrogant naivete is the small intellectual distance they have travelled since 1965-Vietnam is still "unique," a "test of very little" and a "20-year blunder." It is shameful that non-experts like Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn were the first to point out the actual situation in Asia. But the "experts" are still lost in the clouds, and we must question their vaunted expertise.
The usurpation of the title "war resister" is perhaps the most simplistic distortion of all. For these would-be "war resisters" have simultaneously managed to maintain their ties to the CLA, State Department, and Capitol Hill. Indeed, these men have taken quite a long time to jump on the anti-war bandwagon. Until it became safely fashionable to join the ranks of the war protestors, the professors' concerns were chiefly "business as usual," which business happens to be the genocidal destruction of a small Asian country. This is a novel brand of "war resister."
Then there is the matter of truth. They assert that the CRIMSON's position was "an offense to a community of truth-seekers." This apparently constitutes a singlehanded claim to "truth" and the banishment of the CRIMSON editorial board to obscurity. But it seems to me that, while not necessarily agreeing with the CRIMSON stand, there is unquestionably a moral and scholarly basis for agreement. The U. S. Army has presumably been fighting more than ghosts for seven years, and the goals and motivation of the forces that have withstood that onslaught, the National Liberation Front, are at least worthy of respect. In any event, the self-righteous claim to wisdom fo the Harvard experts cannot be taken seriously.