Ford's Vietnam

PRESIDENT FORD'S request last week for nearly a billion dollars in emergency aid to the Thieu government in South Vietnam is disturbing not because it will pass in Congress--it is almost certain it will not--but because of what it showed about Ford's views and priorities.

The things Ford asked of Congress are diametrically opposite to what Vietnam needs, and his reasoning directly contradicted the American experience in Southeast Asia. The "vast human tragedy" that he said has "befallen Vietnam" is largely the result of twenty years of American aid that propped up unpopular governments, and of direct military intervention to keep them in power. The "enormous sacrifices" in American "blood, dedication and treasure" he spoke of are insignificant in comparison with the courage and suffering of the Vietnamese people and the National Liberation Front, who have continued to fight against enormous odds since long before the United States has been in Southeast Asia.

But more frightening than all that was Ford's requests for 40,000 American troops in South Vietnam, and for revisions in the 1973 War Powers Act to allow him to conduct the war as he sees fit. American military involvement in Vietnam will only prolong the suffering there and help the wrong side of the war--and with Ford having the power to escalate the war himself, America's involvement could become as pervasive and cruel as it was before.

The fact of the United State's horrible mistakes in Vietnam should be clear to Congress, if they are not to Ford Congress should immediately reject Ford's requests for military aid and suspension of the War Powers Act, and concentrate rebuilding Vietnam through humanitarian aid to the Provisionary Revolutionary Government, the group with the popular support and egalitarian policies to restore the nation to its own people.