Since the American government began its bombing raids on North Vietnam two months ago, opposition to its escalation of the war has been at times cogent but as often confused. Judging only from the government's behavior, Washington has paid relatively little attention to such opposition. The air strikes have continued and U.S. military strength in South Vietnam has been increased. The CRIMSON has already argued, in an editorial on February 24, that escalation through bombing offers no real prospect for ending the Vietnamese conflict. We now believe that if Washington is ever to become convinced of the futility of bombing, the expression of opposition to its policies must be broadened and intensified. New arguments must be considered, new and viable policy alternatives must be brought forth, and a much wider variety of techniques for registering protest must be pursued.
As one such technique, tomorrow's "March on Washington to end the war in Vietnam" represents an important and worthwhile attempt at focusing disagreement with the government. The presence of 10,000 demonstrators at the White House can have only a limited effort on President Johnson's point of view, but it will at least present him with evidence that the country is neither as contentedly nor as unanimously behind him as he might like to believe. Equally as important, the march may engage many--whose opposition until now has not extended beyond dinner conversation--in a constructive movement to end the war. Those who are making the trip to Washington deserve the full encouragement of all who oppose the present conduct of the war. If the march serves only to broadcast disagreement with the Administration, it will be justified, for opposition by silence constitutes no opposition at all.
At the same time, however, those participating in tomorrow's march should be clear in their own minds about what kind of opposition they are expressing. The advantages of a march lie ultimately in the weight of numbers and the impact of publicity. All too often, the confusion and emotion of demonstration tend to cloud the content of the positions proposed. If protest of government policy in Vietnam is to be both constructive and convincing, it must include a full understanding of the Administration's intentions, the policy alternatives--suggested, and the implications of those alternatives--and not merely songs, pickets and eloquent speeches.
Obviously, all 10,000 Washington marchers will not be supporting the same policy alternative. The official position of the groups sponsoring the march--as expressed in their petition to be presented to Congress--represents only one segment of a wide spectrum of opposition positions. Four possible means for ending the war will be suggested to Congress but these are only four of a much greater variety of alternatives. If those participating in the march are to make their opposition to the government effective, they must not consider tomorrow's demonstration as a call for merely negative protest. Only if the demonstrations are supplemented by careful political deliberation will they constitute a useful and viable approach to the problem of war in Vietnam. Without such deliberation, the March on Washington will be disappointingly incomplete.