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"[Our purpose in Vietnam]," said President Johnson on February 17, 1965, "is to join in the defense and protection of freedom of a brave people who are under attack that is controlled and that is directed from outside their country." In the same place, the Department of State's White Paper Aggression from the North, we read:

South Vietnam is fighting for its life against a brutal campaign of terror and armed attack inspired, directed, supplied and controlled by the communist regime in Hanoi ... The war in Vietnam is a new kind of war ... a totally new brand of aggression has been loosed against an independent people.

The war in South Vietnam is in this way represented to be a classic example of a new kind of aggression by one country upon another. The forces of the Governments of South Vietnam and of America are not fighting against people who have lived all their lives in South Vietnam but they are fighting against a force which has come in from outside-from North Vietnam, Russia and China. It is represented that the guerrilla war is moved, and made what it is, not by South Vietnamese, but by North Vietnamese, Russians and Chinese, and that if this aggression from the north could be cut off, the war effort of the guerrillas would end and the South Vietnamese people would live in peace.

The French historian, Phillipe Devilliere, believes this is an "Orwellian rewriting of history which twists or obliterates every significant event between 1954 and 1960" so powerfully financed and widely spread "that millions of people all over the world are now unable to know the truth."

The Relationship between North and South

No aspect of the war in Vietnam has been so much discussed as the relationship between North and South Vietnam. The discussion has left at best a confused outcome; at worst what Devilliere describes. It is vital that the discussion of this aspect of the war continues not to locate blame in one place or another, but so that we can understand what has happened in the Vietnamese war, for unless it is understood, the war cannot soon be halted, nor can policy for other parts of South East Asia be arrived at, which may prevent an extension of the war over all the mainland of South East Asia.

The war in Vietnam cannot be understood unless it is realised that North and South Vietnam are each part of the same country, temporarily divided by the Geneva Agreements of 1954. This means several things. First, much of what is done by Vietnamese in the south will be national in historical force, tradition and nature. Second, the further back towards 1954 we go the more distinct are the two Vietnams; the more the war has escalated the closer they come together. Finally, the two Vietnams are so much part of one Vietnam that it is impossible to claim aggression by any one from the north upon anyone in the south.

Both sides broke the Geneva Agreement and the breaches of the north until 1962 were less than those of the south and of the United States, and they have remained so since 1962, although northern participation in the war in the south has continuously grown since then. The war is now almost one war in the whole of Vietnam and this situation has resulted mainly from American escalation. The war has escalated not so much because of increased North Vietnamese participation but as a result of Vietcong success and of American escalation in an open ended war which, as Senator Mansfield reported on January 3, 1966, is "open ended [to the extent] to which North Vietnam and its supporters are willing and able to meet increased force by increased force."

It can hardly be denied that the revolutionary war in Vietnam has met with much success. The French were defeated at Bien Bien Phu and agreed to concede about half of the country to the revolutionary forces. The revolution in the south has generated sufficient strength to cause the present South Vietnamese Foreign Minister to conclude in 1966 that if: "the free world forces withdrew we would be taken over within a few weeks"; and to need over 500,000 men and massive fire power from overseas even to hold it at bay.

Perhaps the essence of successful revolutionary warfare is that it must have effective political appeal. This point the late Bernard Fall laboured so diligently to demonstrate. Much of the work done on revolutionary warfare up to 1962 seems to have made the same point into a fundamental factor in such warfare. The voluminous study, Modern Guerrilla Warfare, published by the Rand Corporation in 1962 leaves us with that conclusion:

When there are no economic and political foundations for the guerrilla movement, there will be no guerrilla movement. ... A country has to be ripe for the formation of partisan bands in that the bulk of the people will support them. ... A guerrilla force can neither survive nor function without community support.

Marly in 1961, according to George K Tanham in his Rand study Communist Revolutionary Warfare, told us that "...the crucial fact today is that the Communists are arousing the people to fight and work for them."

To understand how this was done and to know what we are fighting in Vietnam it is necessary to re-examine the background, not so much from the results of what General Manwell Taylor described as "the covert work of specialised intelligence agencies", but more from the "scholar's knowledge of history, the economy, and the political and social springs" of Vietnam.

The Diem Government

Soon after the 1954 Geneva cease fire, hostilities in Vietnam came to an end. Many Vietminh fighters in South Vietnam moved to North Vietnam, while others remained where they lived in the south and hid weapons and supplies. A far larger number of North Vietnamese came to the south and were successfully settled there. They were, of course, anti-Communist and represented a far greater northern contribution to South Vietnamese anti-Communist strength than anything the north was able to send to the south to help the Communists. Bernard Fall reports that 99.5% of the non-Catholics remained in the north but 65% of the Catholics went to South Vietnam and the "Government of President Ngo Dinh Diem immediately used the Northern Catholics as its major base of power."

The division of Vietnam began with a significant exchange between one part and the other. Northern personnel and leaders remained, no doubt, as significant in the succession of governments in Saigon as they could ever have been with the National Liberation Front (NLF).

The Diem Government came to office to establish effective anti-Communist power in South Vietnam. Its objective from the beginning was to prevent South Vietnam from going Communist. What the Government of South Vietnam stated in 1963 had always been its view: "...the Communists seek to absorb South Vietnam by force or subversion in order to extend Communist domination over all Vietnam," and, not only was it the South Vietnam Government's main purpose to oppose this but, if it was to be done, there could be no negotiations, compromise, or agreement with the Communists. The Foreign Minister, Tran Van Do, put it in August 1966: "The Vietcong have two choices: they can surrender or be destroyed."

Before the Communist threat could be dealt with the Diem Government had to deal with other opponents. They were the sects in and around Saigon-the Hoa Hao, Cai Dai, and Binh Xuyen. Diem obviously concluded also that it was necessary to get rid of the French.

The Diem Government proceeded to achieve these aims with a speed and efficiency that astonished everyone. Success began to pave the way for a reputation for Diem as the Churchill of South East Asia. Most of the first phase of Diem's campaign had been achieved by the end of 1956.

It seems that soon after July 1956, the time for the elections had passed without any elections being held, the first clashes between former Vietminh fighters and Diem's village leaders and others began. Diem first sought out and killed former Vietminh cadres and others and exercised the powers given by his legislation of January 1956, which, according to Bernard Fall: "forced all opposition into the agonising choice of self imposed exile for the rich and total silence for the rest." The result was what Fall described as an "awesome control apparatus". Diem's control, of course, was never complete or intensive enough to have made South Vietnam into a police state. But anti-Diemism was one of the main causes of support for the NLF.

Hanoi was much responsible for the ideological influence which was moving South Vietnamese revolutionaries in these early years and may have sent to the south some of those who led them, but at the same time Hanoi adopted a passive and cautious role in relation to the southern revolutionaries and Fall tells us that it is "a documented fact that until 1958, Hanoi made repeated overtures for low level agreements with the south, all of which were turned down by Saigon." Jean Lecantur believes even the open recognition by Hanoi of the NLF that came in 1960 was "cautious" and made not "on their own but rather in response to the pressures of militants in the south."

The Revolution in South Vietnam

But the revolution in South Vietnam in 1956 was not a new revolution. It was a continuing one. It was a Vietnamese revolution. It was a revolution in a single country.

When the word Vietminh was synonymous with patriotism and when "The people fighting President Ngo are the same who fought against the French, and in their view they are in arms for essentially similarly reasons" (Robert Trumbull, New York Times), there was bound to be a continuity in a Vietnamese mould.

I am sure of two things: the closer we examine the NLF and its organisation, the more completely and uniquely Vietnamese we find it to be and yet the more we find it in substance to be South Vietnamese.

It was not only that the revolutionary movement was derived from Vietnamese national history and tradition and from the particular reaction of this history and tradition against the French and later against Diem and America, not only did it gain support because it was always coupled to the needs of farmers, youth and women, but it derived much of its strength from the very fact of its organisation. The most significant weakness of South East Asian societies is lack of organisation. Most of them seem to be a collective of individuals with no real links between one and another.

In Indonesia, I understand, there is no word for organisation. The strength of the revolutionary movement in South Vietnam was very much derived from the intricacy, complexity and force of its organisation. The attractive power, and power of involvement of the individual in such an organisation, can be as effective in itself as nationalism or any other objective in the growth of the movement. In an unorganised society the attraction and power of organisation is no less legitimate a factor than is national independence or economic progress, because these latter things depend very much on the achievement of effective organisation, just as effective organisation depends on adoption of legitimate aims and grievances.

To those involved in the revolutionary movement their organisation may well have become a way of life, most aspects of which affect life. The social revolution-the economic, political and social objects-it seems, always came first. The success of the NLF seems much derived from the fact that what it was really organising was not a guerrilla war but a social order in which the villagers were to control themselves and develop their own powers.

All this may have originated not only from Vietnamese history, tradition and influence as distinct from South Vietnamese. It may have originated as a plan in North Vietnam, but there was a vast and significant amount in what was done that was in no way imported from North Vietnam. There was no blue print at the beginning. Although no one could underestimate the influence of Mao and Giap, the southern leaders, whether they came from the north or not, were forced to experiment and improvise.

Ho may have been a master organiser but there can be no doubt that the movement in the south had organisational genius too. At any rate what resulted in South Vietnam was now compared both to what had been done in China and by the Vietminh. Furthermore, what was new had emerged not from the influence of Mao or Giap but from the struggle in South Vietnam. Indeed there is more than a suggestion that the movement's success was closely related to the extent to which it intelligently improvised from experience and its failures were often related to its dogmatic application of the works of Mao and Giap. Indeed there are those who believe that it made a fatal mistake in 1964, which followed increased northern participation from mid-1963, when it moved from the revolutionary guerrilla war aimed at the general uprising, to the Mao-Giap conventional war as the way to final victory. Changes were indicated before they came in 1968.

Whatever be the significance of North Vietnamese plans and leaders, the movement in the south had a force and logic of its own. While North Vietnam begins with the objective of reunification and assumes unity and solidarity of the struggle between north and south, what also is equally obvious is that North Vietnam was always anxious to hide and restrict her involvement to avoid growing cause for escalation. In addition to this, while unity and solidarity was assumed, it was equally assumed that the southern movement would have to be largely self-supporting. What is more the southern movement has always been largely self-supporting. It is probable that to the end of 1964 well over 80% of the Vietcong manpower had never lived anywhere but in South Vietnam, over 80% of their arms used had not been imported from Communist countries and over 80% of the cost of the revolutionary campaign had been raised in South Vietnam.

It may be true to say that North Vietnam was always prepared to give what assistance was necessary, but the fact that little was necessary was evidence of how completely the effort was a South Vietnamese one. But even this statement is probably too strong. North Vietnam was the subject of too many pressures from the south and too concerned to protect her own achievements against attack for it to be assumed that she was always ready to do whatever was necessary.

Communist countries have always placed the security of their own revolution well ahead of the advance of that of their comrades. North Vietnam was probably no exception. China certainly was no exception. Arthur Schlesinger, Jnr, reminds us that the notorious Lin Piao document was read with more care by the Rand Corporation than by the State Department. And "far from being Mao's Mein Kampf [it was a] message to the Vietcong that they could win 'only if they rely primarily on their own resources and their own revolutionary spirit'."

However much it may appear to Washington that "South Vietnam is fighting for its life against a brutal campaign ... by the Communist regime in Hanoi", it would not appear like this to the South Vietnamese guerrillas who for years had to capture most of their equipment and supplies, who had no air cover and little transport, and who were isolated and hunted like animals. However much we may be impressed by the north as the base of the revolution, the southern guerrilla would know who was doing the work. Not only was there always a firm and continuing separation of the armies of the north and south, in which as their orders attest, the "main duty of the People's Army of the North was to defend the territory of the North [while the] main duty of the Liberation Army of the South was the liberation of the South", but in the case of all other aspects of the social revolution the main duties had necessarily to fall upon the people of the south.

The thesis of Aggression from the North is fundamentally false because it is designed to give the impression that the revolutionary war has been carried on in South Vietnam against the wishes of most of the people; that the support that exists for it in the south is slight, and what does exist has been secured by terror or indoctrination; and that its main force in men and weapons has been imported from North Vietnam, Russia and China.

The truth is that the main force of the revolutionary war has always been made up of South Vietnamese people who have been motivated substantially by legitimate aims. The fact that the southern revolution derives its character from Vietnamese history and tradition makes it no less South Vietnamese in substance. In fact it makes it even more indigenous.

The fact that the revolutionary movement has northerners amongst its leaders makes it no less Vietnamese. The organisational structure of the NLF and its many branches may well have been laid down in Hanoi. The revolutionary war was much influenced by Mao and Giap. But what resulted both in organisation and war was unique to South Vietnam and different from what was done in China and even by the Vietminh. The events of 1956 and 1964 are the events of a national revolutionary war of a uniquely Vietnamese kind, carried out in South Vietnam, substantially by South Vietnamese people and resisted by other South Vietnamese people who were increasingly aided by the United States of America.

Beyond 1964 the scene changes. The guerrilla war became something more conventional and the South Vietnamese forces are increasingly replaced by an American attack, not only upon South Vietnam, but upon the north. At the same time, northern participation in support of the revolution in the south increases. It may well have been that northern participation, if needed, may have increased in any case, but it turned out that it was needed mainly as a result of American involvement. The American attack on North Vietnam in 1965 meant that one of the chief inducements against northern participation in the south was finally removed. North Vietnam now had little to lose from attack, as well as having acquired the need to defend herself and the anger for retaliation. To simplify the guerrilla war in South Vietnam into aggression from the north is a distortion of history. To describe the more conventional war and the North Vietnamese participation after 1964 in the same way is false and misleading.


What is the value of a more objective assessment of the war in Vietnam? First of all it reduced the blame or responsibility attributable to those Vietnamese we are fighting and because of this should make a settlement easier to achieve. Second, and settlement may much depend on this, it justifies participation by the NLF in the determination of the future of South Vietnam. Third, because of the uniquely Vietnamese nature of the revolution, apprehension of it spreading to countries that are not Vietnamese will be reduced.

Whilst it cannot be concluded that a more objective and fairer assessment of the war than the one that prevails would suddenly change the continuously escalating trend of the war-and it is escalating today as much as ever-itself derived from the aggression from the north thesis-such an assessment would help a great deal and may finally be necessary if a settlement is to be reached. In the absence of this better assessment of the war it is difficult to see any future for it but a continuing escalation into full scale war against North Vietnam and sooner or later against China. Total war involving the Soviet Union may then come soon. American internal politics temporarily checks this development.

In the absence of an accepted re-assessment of the war, very little may be done to attempt to end it.

To explore the possibilities of peace in Vietnam, subject to the prevailing assessment of the war, we must look at the significance of China, the problems created by taking into account the rest of South East Asia, and finally, the specific aims of the main parties which are influential in the war in Vietnam and the possibilities of reconciling them.

Senator Fulbright, I believe, has correctly pointed out that:

As long as China and America are competitors for predominance in South East Asia there is unlikely to be a secure peace in that part of the world. ... The essential principle of an accommodation in Vietnam is that it must apply not just to Vietnam but to all of South East Asia.

No one could mistake the significance of these propositions, but equally as much no one can suppose that either China or the United States is going to cease to be a competitor for predominance in South East Asia. The vital question is not that they compete, but the form of the competition. Similarly a South East Asian settlement will be needed if Vietnam is to be stabilised but the process must start in Vietnam.

The desirable thing seems to be to see Vietnam in a sound and fair context of China and South East Asia not as a single part of the conventional view of each.

China's Role in Vietnam

The conventional view is that Vietnam and South East Asia are in upheaval because of China. China is assumed to be the prime and essential mover, the aggressor, the originator and carrier of revolutionary force. "China is engaged," said the former Australia Prime Minister, Sir Robert Menzies, "in a downward drive between the Pacific and Indian Oceans." This conventional view of China is false.

The Chinese leaders use extravagant words of war, but they act cautiously. They claim to be the spirit and inspiration of revolution everywhere, but they not only leave the revolutions to depend on their own spirit and resources but they tell them clearly enough that they have to do so. They are Marxists good enough to know that revolution can rarely be imported and must depend upon its own historical dynamic. The general conflict in and around China has not arisen because China has tried to expand, not because of any military expedition, Tibet and India not withstanding, but because China herself has become the subject of pressure.

The general conflict has not come into existence because China has pressed aggressively on the outside world, but because the outside world has pressed aggressively on China. No one can be certain what China will do in the future. When she is far stronger she may become aggressive in actions as well as in words. But she has not done so yet. She has not sent 500,000 men across the Pacific with a powerful navy and airforce. She has not put them into action a few hundred miles from the United States. She has not dropped bombs a few miles from her enemies' border. But, it is answered, she is responsible for the revolutionary war and for its power in South Vietnam. We have seen that this also is not true.

It is not China who is radical, positive and aggressive. China is conservative, cautious and defensive. Her aggressive talk and other angry and disturbing noises are a result of the pressures upon her, not the sounds of a military or revolutionary expedition.

Just as we need a fair and objective view of the war in Vietnam if we are to have a good chance of ending it, we need also a fair and objective view of China's conduct if the tension between her and the United States is to be reduced.

The United States is far the most powerful military nation in the world. She could easily stop and destroy any Chinese military expedition on land, sea or in the air. She is committed to do so and under all foreseeable circumstances would do so. This is a powerful reason why China will not launch such an expedition even if she was otherwise prepared to do so. What the United States does find difficult to handle is an indigenous revolutionary war like that in South Vietnam. Now, there are two vital points to make about this:

 1. China has done, and is able to do, very little to strengthen the indigenous, revolutionary movement. It gains its strength because of what it is, not because of what China or any outside power does or can do. The probability is that Chinese influence would mislead it, as it misled the Indonesian Communists in 1965. Chinese participation would diminish and destroy it as an indigenous force and convert it into a conventional war and invading expedition which the outside world would be justified in treating as an invading expedition. But China has little influence in the nature of the Vietnamese revolution and has participated in it in no substantial way.

 2. The revolutionary movement in Vietnam which America has found so difficult to handle, is difficult to handle for precisely this reason-because it is indigenous; because it is part of Vietnamese history and tradition; because it is part of Vietnam's struggle for a "national personality on the world scene"; because it reflects the farmer's desire for land, the women's desire for status and equality, the desire of youth for a new life and the desire of workers for jobs. If a revolutionary movement is not indigenous, if it is not genuine in these ways, it will not have much support from the people. It will not be difficult to deal with. But if it is a genuine movement it cannot be dealt with by counter-insurgency methods in support of a ruling non-functional elite unwilling to answer its demands. The result can be no other than has happened in Vietnam-continuous military escalation with victory depending on the physical destruction of the revolutionary forces, and upon a large or total war with the Communist world powers which this escalation makes probable.

China is not the cause of this situation or even a part of it-the cause lies in the revolutionary country and in the United States. Solution of the problem may lie in more limited aims, somewhat like the following:

1. Preparedness to discourage, meet or stop any clearly military expedition by China.

2. Action to support governments in countries like Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia on conditions

a) that they take serious, genuine and effective action to achieve political and economic progress; and

b) that internal security, even against Communist agents from outside, is left to them.

If this action fails there is no more or strategic justification to introduce and escalate military action, not only aimed at destroying the revolutionary movement, but making it necessary to do so, if victory is to be won.

Adoption of these aims would require guarantee of boundaries and probably some supervision by a body like the International Control Commission. This is necessary if it is to be known whether a military expedition is taking place or not. In fact in the Vietnamese cause the International Control Commission did provide a fairly accurate picture of what happened and its findings confirmed neither the American nor the North Vietnamese version. If conflict is to be lessened between America and China, America will need to accept the fact that genuine, indigenous revolutionary forces do exist in some countries and they cannot all be destroyed in the name of anti-Communism. China and the Soviet Union will need to recognise that it is in their best interests, and certainly in the best interests of the revolutionaries, to leave things substantially to them. Interference by both sides is counter-productive-it tends always to mislead, misdirect and transform the chosen ally against his own interests.

Security throughout South East Asia

Of course there can be no lasting Vietnamese settlement unless increasing security and progress can come to the rest of South East Asia. I can do no more at this point than indicate a few of the factors involved.

 1. The continuation of the war in Vietnam probably threatens the security of Laos, Thailand and Cambodia more than would the increased scope of the Communists to give attention to other areas which might result from a cessation of hostilities in Vietnam.

 2. The Vietnamese revolutionary forces are uniquely Vietnamese tied to Vietnamese experience and circumstance. Except perhaps through a few Vietnamese who live in Laos, Thailand and Cambodia there is inappropriate soil through which Vietnamese influence will emerge. If revolutionary influence is to spread because of anything that happens in Vietnam, it will not be because Vietnamese cross frontiers but rather because Laotian, Thai, Malayan, Singaporian and Indonesian life and circumstances produce indigenous revolutionaries to be moved a little by Vietnamese example. It is unlikely that the overseas Chinese, except perhaps in Singapore, could induce any Chinese qua Chinese influence. They are too isolated and vulnerable in each South East Asian country to give any weight to the revolutionary movement.

The answer to revolution in the rest of South East Asia is the answer that was denied to it in Vietnam. It is the answer of a little more democracy and a little better delivery of the goods. Where there is more than one race it is a multi-racial society not the attempted supremacy of one. It is the peasant in the paddy fields for whom something must be done; the worker in the cities who has never known a regular job.

Doctors are of more value than men with rifles and rifles are not able to circumvent the need for reform. It is self deception to say nothing can be done unless security is established first when the very act of establishing security has to be performed by backing a ruling group which cannot make effective reforms.

There is a tendency to look at Vietnam policy as a kind of mistake that could have been corrected if only we had known what we know now. It is not inefficiency or fault of the old ruling groups which makes them act as they do. They will not provide land for tenants and landless peasants because they or their friends own it. They will not give votes to farmers or workers because they know they will vote for someone else. It is not inefficiency or faults that makes them act as they do, it is the fundamental requirements of the system upon which they depend.

But South East Asian countries are entitled to safeguards against military expeditions. These can be given and enforced without any escalating involvement in support of governments which cannot satisfy their own people. There is little reason to believe that far greater security could not be arranged for other South East Asian countries out of a settlement of the war in Vietnam than will ever result from its continuance.


If we may turn to the question upon which improved relations with China and greater security for South East Asia so much depend, we may find also the conditions upon which a cessation of present hostilities depend.

The aim of the Government of South Vietnam has always been to maintain South Vietnam as an anti-Communist state. Perhaps no significant member of any South Vietnamese Government except Minh very briefly, has ever been willing to negotiate with the NLF, and certainly none has ever been prepared to share power with it. The South Vietnamese Government has always believed that you cannot share power with Communists-if they get any, it won't be long before they have it all. They see the ability of the Communists to gain power not as an outcome of their position in relation to any genuine historical process, but alone as a result of terror, indoctrination and deception. Their power is never derived from the people, but always imposed upon them. If one accepts this view then there is no place for negotiations and it would be hypocrisy to talk about being ready to accept them. Given this view, there can be nothing for the Vietcong, as Tran Van Do put it, but surrender or destruction.

The objective of the United States from the start was to prevent Communist domination of South Vietnam. The only point at issue was how this could be done. At first it was aid and advice in exchange for needed economic and political reforms. It was their war and all America could do was help and advise them. But they did not achieve the needed economic and political reforms and as they failed they grew less effective as a government and the NLF grew more effective. With South Vietnamese Government morale and performance at a low ebb, the NLF changed over partly to a conventional style of war and the United States, having recognised the dangers of involvement of large numbers of American troops on the Asian mainland, was forced to adopt precisely this kind of war.

Now it seems that no force on earth can turn the United States away from its commitment, and the basic objective is still to prevent Communist domination of South Vietnam. How can it be achieved? Here the objective is not to escalate the war, or win it, militarily, but to make by escalation, the war so costly to the other side that they will appeal for a cessation and agree to negotiate. Leaving aside the question of whether any governing group can be forced to appeal for a cessation of hostilities as long as its power to govern remains, suppose they agree to negotiate, what are we going to negotiate about? Will we negotiate with the NLF and, if they will not settle for less than a share in the Government of South Vietnam, will we grant it? If we do so, is this consistent with our aim from the start of preventing Communist domination of South Vietnam? I don't think this question has ever been publicly answered, if it has been answered at all. It has to be answered, and probably a public answer has to be given, if the ground is to be cleared for negotiations.

The objective of the Government of North Vietnam is the reunification of North and South Vietnam under a Communist Government. But it was not an objective that was seen to be achievable quickly by direct North Vietnamese action. It was to be achieved at first by the result of an election in South Vietnam in July 1956. When that election was not held, North Vietnam agitated that it should be held, and for a time seemed uncertain about what action to take, but left the initiative to South Vietnamese revolutionaries. Always ready to impose upon South Vietnam objects, organisation and methods in its own image, North Vietnam proceeded cautiously to do so. There can be little doubt the Government believed that the revolutionary forces led by Communists in South Vietnam must inevitably win. Revolutions always do! But equally as much, North Vietnam, aware that too much participation by them would be certain to lead to increased American intervention, left things very much to the South Vietnamese while at the same time seeking to influence and control them. Now, of course, the situation has changed and North Vietnam is being pounded by 3,000 tons of bombs a day-the attack, in fear of which she was cautious, has now come. It may be possible to hit North Vietnam so hard that her leaders would ask for an end to it and agree to sever all connections with South Vietnam. But this is an improbable outcome.

Turning now to the NLF we find that its objective is to overthrow the Government of South Vietnam and take its place. Probably the NLF would share power with some other groups, but not now with the military government in Saigon. The question here is-can the NLF be hit hard enough to destroy it or force it to accept less? The probability is no.

We may say then that the possibilities are:

 1. Adherence by the United States to the objective of holding South Vietnam and of ending aggression by North Vietnam upon the South, in substance almost the same thing. This would mean that attacks on the north have to continue and against the Vietcong in the south until they all surrender or are destroyed.

 2. Acceptance by the United States of the NLF as a principal party in negotiations and as a participant in Government of South Vietnam, and acceptance of reunification of Vietnam as a matter for Governments of North and South Vietnam.

The Soviet Union appears to present no problem. The Soviet does not want the war to escalate and they want to see North Vietnam preserved and the NLF recognised. But the Soviet may not be anxious to see America withdraw from the area for this may free China for more positive action on her common boundaries with the Soviet, and strengthen the Chinese interpretation of the national revolution.

The main Chinese objective, on the other hand, is precisely to secure American withdrawal from the area. Whilst China is apprehensive of an escalation that brings America closer and closer, she would not like to see a de-escalation that leads to a long-term American presence in South Vietnam.

Of those on the other side in the conflict, North Vietnam may be the most difficult to induce towards a cessation of hostilities, but in certain circumstances the NLF could not be expected to stop fighting.

The probabilities are that a cessation of bombing of the north may be enough to allow a commencement of effective negotiations. Recognition of the NLF in the negotiations and afterwards in the Government of South Vietnam may, however, be necessary. This latter would certainly be necessary to prevent a continuation of hostilities.

It may be possible to couple the presence of American troops to the protection of minorities after an agreement and to the supervision of boundaries.

But it must be stressed that in existing circumstances effective negotiations are most unlikely. Given that it is the main American objective to retain South Vietnam as an anti-Communist base, which would require severance of connection between North and South, and given that the Government of North Vietnam and the NLF would not accept this-then negotiations cannot emerge from the present situation.

One might expect that the only way in which this stalemate may change is for civilian and regional groups to emerge in the decision-making process in the Government of South Vietnam which, although opposed to the NLF, are opposed also to the war, and would be prepared to negotiate with them.

Such a situation showed signs of emerging through perhaps Ngo Dinh Nhu, probably through Minh soon after the overthrow of Diem, and certainly through Khanh a little later and is emerging again in recent weeks. The justification for this development is that the people of Vietnam have no choice as long as the war continues and that they will have to decide their own future sooner or later.

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