SATURDAY'S blitzkreig-style bombing of North Vietnam was not just an isolated atrocity. It was vital to the Nixon Administration's strategy for insuring permanent U. S. control throughout Southeast Asia. And it is a crucial challenge to those in this country who oppose the war and American aggression everywhere. The response of the American people to the bombing must be swift and widespread if the people of Southeast Asia are to survive.
Secretary Laird's explanation for the bombing-that the North Vietnamese were being justly punished for firing on an American spy plane in their skies-is a crude lie. The reaction of North Vietnam to an intruding American airplane is understandable and justified. Perhaps the North Vietnamese remember the single American plane that flew over Hiroshima in 1945.
Why did the Administration choose this occasion to resume the bombing of the North? American planes have frequently been shot down or driven off during spy or bombardment missions over the North. The timing of the raid is dishonest and malicious. While explaining to the American people his plan for "achieving a just peace," Nixon has ferociously stepped up his B-52 raids on insurgent areas of South Vietnam, turning hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese into refugees, herding the rural population into American-controlled urban slums and camps, and strengthening the hand of his puppet military dictatorship in Saigon. American planes have regularly raided the rebellious areas of Laos and Cambodia, making it increasingly difficult for human and animal life to survive there. The purpose of these increased bombings-of which the American people have long and deliberately been kept ignorant-is to terrorize Southeast Asia into accepting permanent American rule. And now the bombers are hitting the North again.
The attacks are clearly part of a vicious strategy designed to force the Vietnamese to accept a permanent American presence of more than 200,000 troops in their country. The Administration has repeatedly refused to commit itself to the principle of total withdrawal because it intends to maintain the massive U. S. military bases in Vietnam permanently in order to consolidate its control of Southeast Asia.
Reports by American policymakers indicate that the bombing represents a return to the 1965 strategy-but that instead of a continual bombing, the U. S. will now institute an "off-balance" policy of unpredictable, intermittent raids like that of Friday night.
It is plain that Nixon feels that he has a free hand to wage war against Asia until 1972. The current bombing, reports suggest, is an attempt to gauge the depth of anti-war feeling in the U. S. If Nixon concludes that he has stilled domestic protest, he will presumably unveil another, greater atrocity, such as the closing of Haiphong harbor or the invasion of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam by American ground troops.
In the political calculations of the Administration, every American who does not protest the renewed bombing casts a passive vote for the continued extermination of the Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Lao people.
IT IS NOW past time for Americans to rid themselves of this complicity by withdrawing passive support from our outlaw government and its illegal, immoral, unconstitutional war. We college students who march one day a year in protest are no more free of complicity than those outside the University who continue business as usual while quietly deploring the war. If we are to reject our role in the perpetual genocide, we must create an ongoing, militant antiwar movement which will be silenced only by unilateral U. S. withdrawal from Asia.
To help create this movement, we call for:
Continued and prolonged disruption of draft boards, federal offices, military installations, and war-related industries by massive civil disobedience, building toward a demonstration already planned for May 1 which will close the city of Washington by nonviolent means. We cannot wait until May to begin. It is far too late already.
A show of force by those members of the U. S. Congress who claim to oppose the war. Liberal senators must abandon their impotent posturing and begin effective action to disrupt the functioning of the U. S. military machine. Senators should begin a filibuster against all Administration appropriations bills now pending, whether military or not. In addition, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should begin immediately its longpostponed televised hearings on Administration policy in Vietnam and summon Nixon, Laird, Kissinger, Rogers, and Mitchell to give an account of their crimes.
A halt to our financial support of the war by a mass refusal to file income tax returns next April and by beginning selective national boycotts against heavy defense contractors who also manufacture consumer goods.
Each person to accept as his unavoidable duty educating himself and others about the scope of the governments crimes in Asia. Everyone who opposes the war should learn as much as possible about it and should demand that our newspapers and broadcasting networks end their self-imposed censorship on the government's actions in Southeast Asia.
We must speak and act now, or concede victory to the war criminals who constitute our government. If we hesitate, they will move decisively to silence us.