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Bloody Path to China


STEPPING ON the plane for his journey to China, Nixon had the air of a man about to fulfill a cherished ambition," the Associated Press reported from Hawaii Thursday. The impression is probably accurate, but the recent bomb strikes against North Vietnam again demonstrate that Nixon's ambition has little to do with any much-heralded peace.

In alleged anticipation of a new Tet offensive, the United States last week launched its most massive air attacks of the year. Coupled with new fighting in Cambodia and Laos, these attacks belie Nixon's claims of winding down the war. The Tet offensive--if indeed ever planned--has, in fact, never materialized, and Nixon continues to advertise a bogus timetable for illusory peace, a schedule geared only toward his all too likely reelection.

There can be only two motives for the bombing: Nixon's hopes of negotiating in China from a position of strength, and his desperate need to appease right-wing hardliners at home. To support these goals, he continues to sacrifice the lives and property of Vietnames freedom fighters and civilians, and prolongs an immoral struggle against the forces of genuine self-determination in Indochina. How much of Nixon and Kissinger's revelations on secret negotiations can be trusted should be indicated by Thieu's subsequent reservations and his reiteration of the three "no's": no coalition, no neutrality, and no Communist government for South Vietnam.

WHAT SHOULD be clearest of all is that Nixon's role as peacemaker in China exists only insofar as he can improve the U.S. economic and political position by playing on Sino-Soviet tensions and by deflating antiwar opposition at home. It is as tragic as it is ironic that a student of John Foster Dulles' foreign policy should be the first American president to visit China in a generation. Already, in the administration's support of Pakistan over Bangladesh, the United States has paid some of the moral and material costs of Nixon's balance-of-power scheming.

It came as a great and welcome surprise to most Americans that Nixon take this unusual journey. The new bombing has snuffed out whatever sparks of hope were ignited. Such international treachery should reawaken America's attention to the Vietnam atrocities. Nixon continues to deliver the murderous hypocrisy which has come to be the bloody trademark of successive dishonest administrations.

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