HUNTINGTON AGAIN REPLIES
To the Editors of the Crimson:
Old lies never die--at least not in the pages of the Crimson.
Mr Jeffrey I. Baker joins the parade of your columnists who either cannot or do not read about things they purport to write about or, if they do read about them, choose to falsify or disfort what they read. His claim (Crimson, January 17) that I "suggested" a policy "to deprive the guerrilla army of its base of support--the rural population--by forcing that population into urban areas controlled by the government" is totally devoid of truth--a fact of which any regular reader of the Crimson over the past two years should be well aware by now. In response to your last publication of a similar canard, I set the record straight at some length in your May 25th issue of last year. And there were several other correcting letters before that. Now your continued infatuation with this falsehood forces me to repeat once again what I have said before.
I have never suggested any such policy. Indeed, I did not become in any way connected with the U.S. Government's activities in Vietnam until the summer of 1967 when; arriving in Saigon on a mission for the State Department. I found that the war, "drastically and brutally speeded up by the American impact" (to quote myself), had driven large numbers of Vietnamese into cities, more than doubling and perhaps tripling the urban population. I could hardly have suggested this be done; it had all been accomplished long before I began thinking about Vietnam on behalf of the United States Government. What I did do (in a report to the State Department and in a subsequent article in Foreign Affairs) was to estimate the extent of the urbanization which was occurring, point to the "dramatic and often heartrending" costs which it was imposing on refugees, and note that it had been "effective" in increasing the population under the control of the Saigon government. My conclusion, however, was that such a policy clearly could not in any sense "win" the war and that consequently "Peace in the immediate future must be based on accomodation," Both my article and report spelled out possible "bases of accomodation" which phrase happens to be the title of the article.
Over the years, one has gotten quite accustomed--and, indeed, almost inured--to falsehoods in the Crimson. While you obviously do not care about your reputation for veracity, I think you might still value whatever reputation you may have left for originality. Isn't it about time that you gave up perpetuating this tired old falsehood about me, and thought up a new one? I'm surely getting tired of rewriting this letter. Samuel P. Huntington