The Burdens of 1973

NEWS OF U.S. bombing in Cambodia drones on. U.S. support for political repression in Vietnam continues. More bizarre details of Nixon's would-be secret police unfold in Washington. And yet, amidst summer breezes, pleasant reunions, and a Triple Crown victory, the school year draws to a close with an unaccustomed quiet that news magazines and conservative Faculty thrive on. The burdens the world bore this year were no less painful, no less unwieldy than the threats to self-determination and human equality to which past years have made us accustomed. But local burdens seem heavier, because after years of radical protest and finally the defeat of even a liberal politician clearly better qualified than Richard Nixon to be President, national forums seem a less appropriate focus for change. But local energies, like today's women's protest, and whatever difference exists between the consciousness of the Class of '73 and that of the classes of 10 or 50 years ago belie Commencement's placid tone. Richard Nixon has brought not a calm, but a smoldering and unresolved tension.


AS THE DRAMA of Watergate unfolds daily, it becomes ever more clear that crimes have been committed in the case. Tales of extensive burglary, electronic eavesdropping, forgery and bribery have all been spilled before the Ervin Committee or leaked to the press. The question of the moment is the extent to which Richard Nixon is responsible for those crimes.

The Watergate crimes, serious as they are, are insignificant beside Nixon's other--and admitted--crimes. These crimes were defined by international tribunals after the end of World War II as war crimes, and Nixon has not stopped committing them.

Under Nixon's orders, in direct defiance of the United States Congress, American planes have dropped bombs on Cambodia on a daily basis since late in February. Nixon has claimed that the bombing is directed against North Vietnamese invaders who are attempting to overrun the country, that only military targets are being hit, and that the aerial onslaught is intended only to prop up the tottering January peace agreements.


These claims are all lies. The bombing, as some belated reporting from the area is starting to show, is directed against an indigenous Cambodian revolutionary movement, the Khmer Rouge, a force numbering in the hundreds of thousands which is attempting to topple the Lon Nol regime, Nixon's two-year-old creation. It is not directed against military targets, but has actually killed thousands of Cambodian people and clogged the roads in that country with tens of thousands of refugees. Nixon's bombing is a crime against peace -- a crime for which Nazi and Japanese war criminals were hanged.

WATERGATE APPEARS almost ludicrous beside the immensity of Nixon's continuing genocide. Burglary, electronic eavesdropping, forgery and bribery have no place in a democratic society, but only an obscene, inverse moral standard would place them above genocide on its list of evils. Bombing villages, destroying crops, burning people alive: these acts outweigh in criminality phone taps and forged letters.

Nixon has denied knowledge of Watergate; he has never attempted to evade responsibility for the Cambodian bombing -- on the contrary, he has obliquely welcomed it. Although his Administration has provided only the barest details of its onslaught, it has never denied that the bombing has not stopped. The Administration can quibble over the number of screaming children and homeless villagers, but it has not hidden the central truth: the war continues.

For nearly a decade, The Crimson has called for an end to American involvement in Indochina. We repeat that call today. The war has brought more death and destruction to one area of the globe since Adolf Hitler's armies devastated Europe in World War II. The United States should cease its bombing and all other overt and covert military operations in Indochina. The genocide must stop.


WE HOPE President Bok was striken by a temporary affliction yesterday, perhaps induced by the sweltering heat of the past few days and the presence of vast swarms of alumni, when he suggested at the annual meeting of the Associated Harvard Alumni that ROTC might return to Harvard.

We urge him to be a bit more temperate in his remarks when students return in the Fall. If he continues to hint at bringing the war machine back to Harvard, people just might take him at his word, and the quiet that prevailed here these past months will be punctured again by noisy and strident demonstrations.

ROTC has no place at this or any other University. "The basic principles of freedom that should prevail at a great university" (to which Bok referred this afternoon) does not include the freedom to commit mass murder, the use to which American armed forces have been put in the past decade. The Vietnamese people have forced the American military out of their country, but the air war, now in its 99th consecutive day, continues in neighboring Cambodia. The butchery has not stopped.

Nor is the United States military, even in the brief periods when it is not attempting to destroy another people, an institution for which Harvard should seek to train its undergraduates. The military is a particularly repressive arm of a repressive government which even when at rest stands poised to intervene brutally in the affairs of the other nations of the globe.

In addition to aiding the cause of repression, ROTC at Harvard would undermine the principle of autonomy on which the University is founded. Harvard exists to serve truth, not the particular immediate interests of the military. Bok should reexamine his own conception of a University if he things it exists to cater to the interests of the powerful and mighty in America.