TODAYS Vietnam Moratorium should mark the beginning of a mass movement to achieve one simple objective: the immediate withdrawal of all United States military and financial support from the existing governments of the Southeast Asian mainland.
Those accepting this objective implicitly accept the likely corollary: A South Vietnamese government dominated by the National Liberation Front. In the long run, such a government may be in the best interests of the South Vietnamese; it is in any case infinitely preferable to a continuation of the present war.
Attempting to orient the anti-war movement toward overt support of the NLF would, however, be unwise, and perhaps disastrous. American support of the NLF will have no effect on the course of South Vietnamese politics, yet it could divide the movement in the United States enough to assure the indefinite continuation of the war.
President Nixon and his advisors are not yet convinced that the American people will settle only for immediate withdrawal; currently, the White House seems to feel that retaining some 200,000 American troops in Vietnam for ten years or more can be made acceptable to the American people. To disabuse them of this notion will probably require, at the least. months of mass demonstrations in favor of immediate withdrawal, and a greater percentage of Americans supporting such a policy than the 57 per cent reported in the last Gallup poll.
A program of support for the NLF will seriously hamper the recruiting efforts needed to achieve this end. To bring one citizen around to backing immediate withdrawal on this basis-or to convince one already in favor of withdrawal to take action to show his support-will require convincing them that the NLF is a positive good deserving their wholehearted support.
To do this, it would be necessary both to overcome most Americans' quasi-Pavlovian reluctance to support any movement with substantial Communist elements, and their more justifiable queasiness at identifying themselves with a movement whose accession to power may well be accompanied by large-scale massacres of political opponents.
Such a recruiting effort seems a waste of time when there are much easier grounds-ending the waste of lives and money in Vietnam-for building the anti-war movement. These are the arguments which are responsible for the wide support the present moratorium has achieved. It would be a shame for segments of the anti-war movement to reject them now, and push for a position which will appeal only to a small minority of the American people.