THE DAYS when Richard Nixon could use foreign policy as the opiate of the masses are over. A Gallup poll released on Sunday showed that the nation opposes the bombing of Laos and Cambodia by a two-to-one margin and that it insists by a six-to-one ratio that the President must consult Congress before undertaking any further military actions in Southeast Asia.
However, the House of Representatives refused last Thursday to allocate funds for the Nixon Cambodia bombing. Despite his much-touted pledge as well as the popular desire that he respect Congress's prerogatives in the "post-Watergate" era, Nixon wasted no time in announcing that he would continue bombing no matter what Congress does.
What even Richard Nixon could not ignore about the House vote was that it came one week before Henry Kissinger's rendezvous with Le Duc Tho in Paris. Although the stated purpose of their meeting is to discuss ways to ensure the correct implementation of the January peace agreement, it is highly probable that the American side intends to use the session as a chance to brandish its entire line of threats.
The more threats the Americans make, the more intransigent the North Vietnamese will become. The Saigon regime will leap for joy, having been assured that the only violations of the agreement that the United States will not tolerate are those by Saigon's Vietnamese opponents. The Saigon regime has been violating the agreement expressly to determine how easily it can lure Washington back into the war.
It is encouraging that North Vietnam has agreed to another meeting in Paris on Thursday. However, the prime responsibility for maintaining the Vietnam peace agreement and that in Laos as well rests with the peoples of those countries. Congress and the public have come to accept that the U.S. must stop interfering in Cambodia's affairs, which will surely result in well-deserved victory of the revolutionary forces led by Prince Sihanouk and the Khmer Rouge.