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President Nixon trumpeted the details of his fall peace offensive last week after a long prelude of press leaks. The program - draft suspension and troop withdrawal - aims transparently at lulling domestic dissent rather than stopping the shooting in Vietnam.
A two-month draft suspension will not calm student anger over the war in Vietnam. For one thing most students who oppose the war are exempt from the draft anyway. Only immediate and, if necessary, unilateral action to stop the fighting and remove all troops from Vietnam will win President Nixon the domestic tranquility he tried to gain last week.
The draft suspension does little to limit the American war effort. After announcing a cut-back in draft calls for the rest of the year, Administration officials admitted that 1969's call of 290,400 will lag only 5,600 behind last year's. A Washington study group, the National Council to Repeal the Draft suggests that the Administration may have inflated the summer calls to compensate for the fall cut-back.
The withdrawal of 35,000 more troops will not affect the fighting power of allied troops any more than the draft cut-back. The 60,000 soldiers who will have left Vietnam by December represent only 12 per cent of the present American troop strength. The units withdrawn will surrender quieter allied districts to experienced South Vietnamese units.
In the last analysis, the Nixon peace offensive is likely to make less impact on students than two other developments of the past two weeks. The week before last the Senate approved almost intact the President's military appropriations bill, which commits 20 billion dollars to the development of an Anti-ballistic Missile System, a new manned bomber and a new supertank. This week, reports from Laos revealed that American airplanes have been flying close support for Laotian troops battling communist insurgents.
If the President really wants peace on the nation's campuses he will have to find it a less than "honorable" peace in Vietnam.
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