THE INVASION of Laos clearly means the deaths of thousands of people in Indochina. Their deaths will be the tokens with which Nixon plans to establish the credibility of his Vietnamization program.
He has by now flaunted his strategy time and again: under the guise of Vietnamization, he will sanitize the war by withdrawing American troops and reducing American casualties, while turning the people of Indochina-all of them-into cannon fodder, forcing them to hunt and kill each other beneath a hail of American bombs.
Vietnamization, Protecting withdrawing American troops. The Nixon doctrine. The words mean ceaseless mass murder, brutal death from American rifles, helicopters, cannon, bombers. They mean total terror over the subcontinent of Indochina. They mean a permanent presence of an American military machine which holds the unchallenged right to strike anywhere at any time to ensure that the Vietnamese, Cambodians, Laotians, and Thais accept American rule.
Many times the antiwar movement has pointed to some new U. S. atrocity and proclaimed that this was it, the point of no return, the worst that could happen. That will no longer serve; it is clear that Nixon holds much worse in store if he is allowed to pursue his policies unchecked. Since May, the war has been steadily expanded: the destruction of Cambodia's neutralist regime and the installation of an American puppet: the invasion of Cambodia by U. S. and South Vietnamese soldiers; the bombing of North Vietnam and the announcement of new policies which wipe out the 1968 bombing halt: the lightning raid on North Vietnamese territory; the expanded air war over Cambodia; and now the invasion of Laos.
Clearly there will be more: perhaps the use of tactical nuclear weapons, the bombing of Hanoi, the destruction of Haiphong harbor, an invasion of North Vietnam.
We must oppose the invasion of Laos, and the U. S. presence in Asia. The U. S. must stop killing the people of Indochina.
EVERYONE who opposes the war should march today. Massive nation-wide demonstrations can signal the end of the lethargy that has gripped the antiwar movement since May. If we do not respond, the Administration will rightly conclude that nothing can rouse us.
The march today should also signal the beginning of a renewed commitment to building a movement which can prevent American crimes instead of just reacting to them.
The time is ripe: a Gallup poll reports that 75 per cent of the American people now support the McGovern-Hatfield proposal to set a deadline for total U. S. withdrawal from Southeast Asia, NBC reports that 45 per cent of those polled believe that U. S. ground troops are in Laos despite repeated government disclaimers.
Clearly the American people distrust their leaders and want the war ended. The movement must prod them into action.
The May demonstrations called by last weekend's Ann Arbor conference provide such an opportunity. Even more immediately, the People's Peace Treaty provides a focus around which the movement can mobilize the people in repudiating Nixon and his war.
By signing the treaty, Americans can make their separate peace with the people of Vietnam. And in signing the treaty, Americans pledge themselves to enforcing that peace. The specific methods by which Americans ratify the treaty are still open-ended: mass meetings, campus referenda, community canvassing, and initiative campaigns for special elections have all been proposed.
By marching today, we in the Boston area can demonstrate our support of the right of the peoples of Asia to determine their own future. To march today is to take the first steps toward enforcing our peace.