First Published: Progressive Labor Vol. 5, No. 5, October-November 1966
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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There are two ways the United States will get out of Vietnam. The first is to be driven out by powerful military action of the Vietnamese people, coupled with enormous political pressure in Vietnam, around the world, and in the United States. The second is through a Soviet-inspired deal permitting the United States to maintain its military, political and economic footing in Vietnam without war, thus freeing it to pursue global ambitions.
Of the two, the first seems most likely. The majority of Vietnamese people give absolutely no indication they intend to abandon their revolutionary goals. In fact, each escalation of the war by the United States has been met with greater resistance by the Vietnamese people. Despite twelve years of counter-revolutionary war in Vietnam the United States cannot halt the tide of revolution, though it has the flower of its armed forces in Vietnam. In the war against the Vietnamese there are now more than 600, 000 uniformed personnel of the Army, Airforce, and Navy, The military and Defense Department talk in terms of using over one million men in the near future just to hold their own.
Those of us in the United States who are working “to get the U.S. out of Vietnam now,” must have a clear understanding of the strategy, goals, and ruthlessness of the U.S. ruling class. This is necessary to prepare ourselves for a long hard effort to win. We should also know that victory for the National Liberation Front (NLF) will enhance efforts of everyone working for revolutionary socialism in our country. Victory for the NLF will aid anyone in our country working to achieve any basic change in the interest of working people, students, intellectuals and others. We in the United States owe a profound debt to the heroic Vietnamese people who are fighting, isolating, and defeating U.S. imperialism.
Many in the radical movement as well as many liberals claim that the United States is in Vietnam because of stupidity and arrogance, and will pull out when our country gets more enlightened leadership. Others claim the United States is not even prepared to pay the current political and military price in Vietnam. Therefore, it will settle the war quickly on any terms and get outĄ Inherent in these views is the conception that the United States has no goals and strategy, and the country is merely the victim of a barbarous idiot in the White House. These ideas reflect a subjective and pragmatic approach to the world today. This type of thinking reached great proportions prior to the ’64 elections. At that time liberals and revisionists alike told the people that if Barry Goldwater were elected he would carry out precisely what is now taking place in Vietnam.
Many still feel that if John F. Kennedy were still President he would have gotten out of Vietnam by now. Many of these forces now look to Robert Kennedy as the “intelligent” leader who will get the United States off the hook in Vietnam. These forces view history and conflict as battles between personalities. They fail to see that the ruling class as a unit has class goals and strategy. They do not see the continuity of forces and strategy in the state apparatus. And they fail to understand that the state apparatus acts only in the interest of the ruling class guiding its fortunes from period to period.
The continuity of forces and policy was never clearer than in the case of Vietnam. And it is particularly clear in the continuity of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations. McNamara, Rusk, the Bundy brothers, Gen. Taylor, and Henry Cabot Lodge have been the main strategists and activists carrying out the policies of the Johnson administration. All were Kennedy appointees. However, President Eisenhower in 1953 made the perspective of the United States in Asia clear. He said then in an off-the-cuff address to a Governors’ Conference in Seattle: “Now let us assume we lost Indochina. If Indochina goes, several things happen right away. The Malay Peninsula, the last little bit of land hanging on down there would be scarcely defensible. The tin and tungsten we so greatly value from that area would cease coming, but all India would be outflanked.
Burma would not be in position for defense. All that position around there is very ominous to the United States, because finally, if we lost all that, how would the free world hold the rich empire of Indonesia?
So you see, somewhere along the line, this must be blocked and it must be blocked now and that is what we are trying to do.
So when the United States votes $400,000,000 to help the war in Indochina, we are not voting a giveaway program. We are voting for the cheapest way we can prevent that occurrence of something that would be of the most terrible significance to the United States of America, our security, our power and ability to get certain things we need from the riches of the Indonesian territory and from Southeast Asia. (New York Times, July 26, 1966.)
Even this blatant pronouncement by Eisenhower was not the original manifestation of a long range perspective of the United States in Asia. Since the victory of the Chinese people and the Chinese Communist Party in 1949, conflict has shifted increasingly to Asia. Of course, this has been further accelerated by the abandonment of a revolutionary and anti-imperialist outlook by the Soviet leaders. Today, the “yellow peril” has become the passion in Washington. Starting with the criminal bombing of Shanghai in 1949, the United States has been in a state of war in Asia. It goes back even further if you include the counter-revolutionary action of the United States in the Philippines after World War Two, or the U.S. Nazi-style atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
After United States aggression in north Korea was checked by combined action of the Korean and Chinese people backed by Soviet air, ground and political power, the United States took a breather for one year. During 1955 it began to intensify its counter-revolutionary actions again. It was in the year of the Bandung Conference that United States agents, aided by Chiang Kai-chek, started armed subversion in Indonesia. And realizing the rapid growth of revolutionary forces in Vietnam, the United States brought Diem to power in Saigon. This created the ability for protracted counteraction in Vietnam and against all Asia. The longer range target of the United States was China, new center of world revolution. Thus, today Vietnam has become the main battleground for the principle contradiction–the continuing conflict between the forces of revolution led by Marxist-Leninists, and world imperialism, led by the United States.
For twelve years United States troops have been fighting a war of genocide in Vietnam. The war has been gradually escalated under three administrations, all agreed and all pursuing the basic line of the ruling class. Escalation has increased as buying off the people and the imposition of political dictatorships have failed. Faced with rising revolutionary struggle for freedom and socialism, the United States has responded with rising armed terror. U.S. imperialism’s time-tested practice, “If you can’t buy them, kill them,” is now in full force in Vietnam.
It is not an accident that direct United States aggression in Vietnam flowered in the period that Khrushchov’s revisionism became open and strident. The interrelationship of revisionist and imperialist policies obviously has enabled the United States to complete its shift in strategy from Europe to Asia and intensify the war against the Vietnamese people.
Within this same period the United States has been compelled to accelerate counter-revolutionary acts all over the world. In the Congo, Cuba, Panama, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia, India and elsewhere. In some cases U.S. counter-revolution has met with temporary or partial success. If revolutionary movements in these or other areas develop with the same fierceness as in Vietnam, the United States will try to reply in kind. But at the moment Vietnam is the focal point of world revolution. Therefore, it would be best not to consider Vietnam as some sudden crisis, but as a fundamental strategic area for U.SĄ imperialism. This means U.S. imperialism will make this the center of its actions for the present and the immediate future. And it will pursue its goals in Vietnam with increasing forces and terror.
IF UNITED STATES strategy and tactics are consistent–if not successful–the goals must be important. Sometimes our enemies are our best teachers, and can convince us of their real aims. Johnson’s Omaha speech, defending the bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong, momentarily let down his facade of bringing “peace and freedom” to Vietnam. In this speech he declared the goals of U.S0 imperialism in Asia. He said: “Our fighting in Vietnam therefore is buying time not only for South Vietnam but it’s buying time for a new and a vital and a growing Asia to emerge and develop additional strength. And if South Vietnam were to collapse under communist pressure from the North, the progress in the rest of Asia would be greatly in danger. And don’t you forget that’. And the third reason is what happens in South Vietnam will determine–yes it will determine–whether ambitious nations can use guerrilla warfare to conquer weaker neighbors.”
The United States is buying time to rapidly build strength in Southeast Asia. It is also feverishly building the strength of local reactionaries. Johnson implies that if revolution wins in Vietnam it would be an impetus to armed revolution on the entire continent. Johnson in 1966 warns–though in not quite the same open manner–what Eisenhower warned of in 1953: the possibility of losing the continent of Asia.
The needs of imperialism exist objectively. This is not to say that personalities have no bearing on given situations. But to give personalities prime place is to stand history on its head. The objective needs of imperialism were put succiently by Jules Henry in the June-July issue of Progressive Labor. “Being primarily a capitalist exporting nation, the United States needs markets for investment,” he said. “Since 1939 the gross national product of the United States has risen considerably. In large part because of the demands for armaments to wage cold-war and to maintain American universal gendarmerie. The main purpose of this activity is to keep socialism at bay and the primary reason for doing so is because socialist economies are useless to a country relying on its capitalist exports. Our military efforts to keep the world free for American investment generate huge economic surpluses, capital for investment, because the war-nourished industries at home expand the economic surplus. The presence of the huge and growing economic surplus makes it absolutely imperative that the world be kept absolutely free for American investment. Asia represents one of the last frontiers for investment capital...We have fought an uninterrupted series of wars beginning with World War Two to keep the door open in Asia for American investments. While the military foothold in Southeast Asia will permit the expansion of American capital there and the eventual flow of American capital even into China itself is not entirely a pipe dream for far-seeing economics statesmen.” (This article originally appeared in The Nation.)
The United States has billions invested in Asia. Over the years it has dragged out billions in profits. These profits and future profits are necessary to modernize U.S. industry. This creates still greater profits, making U.S. industry more attractive for additional investment and more competitive with other countries.
To maintain its strategic and profit position in Asia the United States is building huge military bases in Vietnam and Thailand. They intend to make these countries into impregnable fortresses so that the war can be carried to Southeast Asia and eventually to China. Obviously this does not indicate a short term outlook. Marquis Childs in The New York Post, June 30, put it this way: “In the view of Fulbright and other critics the President has gone beyond a reasonable approach to the war. He has become a passionate crusader, an evangel determined to defeat communism in Asia, which means of course China...The President in this view... means to go all the way to victory. That could be a war measured not in years but in decades.”
Fortune Magazine of April 1966, makes this point less subjectively, in economic terms: “But the war, it appears, will get bigger. U.S. Senators who know what Defense Department witnesses say in closed congressional hearings have predicted a buildup to 400,000 men, or more. General William C. Westmoreland, the U.S. commander in Vietnam, has reportedly requested a buildup to 400,000 by the end of December. With that many servicemen in South Vietnam the cost of the war would run to $21 billion a year-even more if bombing and tactical air support increased in proportion to the buildup on the ground. At any such level the Vietnam war would bring on economic strains beyond what most economists appear to foresee, and beyond what makers of public policy appear to be anticipating. The strains would surely add to the pressure for higher taxes.”
The Fortune article then implores us to see the inherent implications of the Vietnam budget-that is, the long range character of the war. “So the 1967 budget barely begins to suggest the level of Vietnam war spending that probably lies ahead. The budget is not misleading once its sophisticated underlying assumptions are understood; but the assumptions are not widely understood, and the administration has not made much of an effort to see that they are.” Obviously, the administration doesn’t want to smash the illusion it peddles with some success: the notion that the United States has no long-term interest in Vietnam, and has only limited goals.
Increased war production has also been necessary to prevent a total collapse of the economy. Only World War Two ended the Great Depression of the Thirties. Since the end of World War Two there were a series of recessions. Each downturn in the economy was met with increased war production or war. That is the case with the present war and was the case with the Korean War. Each major increase in war production has given the appearance of stabilizing the economy, but in fact the economy, from a long-range viewpoint, is weaker than ever.
Consequently, the goals of U. S. imperialism in Vietnam are basic to its survival. It needs to stop the revolution there as a lesson to other revolutionary forces, and to maintain that area as a base for continued strategic use against all of Asia. It needs the area for exploitation and investment. It needs Vietnam to be able to crush China militarily or politically. It must dominate all Asia to continue to extract huge profits, key to maximum profits and competition. It needs to expand the war budget to stave off economic collapse. The war in Vietnam is no isolated phenomenom. It is completely interrelated to the fight of the U.S. ruling class to defend and save its system.
With these decisive goals in mind, the imperialists reason that the end justifies the means. In other words, difficulties and setbacks will not stop the United States. Naturally, the United States would like to win easily and would like to have allies. However, despite isolation and defeats, it is prepared to go it alone for a long period with expanded efforts if the revolutionary forces keep up their fight. One should recall the German experience. The German ruling class, motivated by similar objective needs, world domination to survive, fought to the bitter end. In the beginning the Germans were able to win their initial goals by negotiations, bluff and quick strikes. But as the people of the world, led by the Soviet Union, resisted and went over to the offensive, the Germans fought until crushed. Therefore, the United States, which has the same goal as the Germans, only with bigger stakes, has become the most ruthless ruling class in history. It is proving this daily. Mass extermination, by any means necessary, has become the order of the day in Vietnam. The U.S. ruling class will move to “kill all–burn all” when it feels seriously threatened and within the United States also.
The ruling class, through the use of its so-called cultural tools, attempts to condition the people at home and abroad to its growing depravity. The people are told, in ”the grand American manner,” that the killing and barbarism is in their interests and even in the interests of the victims. In other words, U.S. genocide and murder is committed in the name of bringing freedom and democracy to its victims.
In the drive for these goals there is not one bit of meaningful difference within the ruling class and its various mouthpieces in the state apparatus. Tactical differences which crop up only reflect powerful opposition from revolutionary forces and not differences in the basic goal of world domination.
IN PURSUING IMPORTANT goals U. S. imperialism simultaneously uses the dual tactics of bribery and coercion. The amount used, of either, varies, depending upon the scale and type of resistance imperialist policies meet from the imperialist policies meet from the people. Vietnam is no exception.
In the early period the United States relied heavily on local political forces and huge sums of money for bribing sections of the people. As this strategy failed the United States introduced more force and terror. It also continued to promote its “pacification” program. When this also failed, the U.S. was compelled to introduce more and more of its armed strength. But even recently, the United States offered the north Vietnamese $2 billion in credits if it would negotiate. Throughout the war the United States has been assiduously trying to promote a deal. Every escalation of the war is coupled with the offer to negotiate, to make a deal. Obviously, each rise in the war is being used to force the Vietnamese people to negotiate away their right to self-determination. U.S. imperialism would like to win at the bargaining table what it has been unable to win on the battlefield.
Undoubtedly, each faction in the ruling class would like to accomplish its goal via a deal. Who doesn’t like to win cheap and easy, and maintain the image of being a good guy. The nazis were always ready to negotiate a surrender, and even give a fig-leaf to the capitulator. This was true when Chamberlain negotiated away the Sudeten-land. Hitler hailed him as being a statesman. And Chamberlain claimed he saved the peace of the world.
The U.S. ruling class badly miscalculated in Vietnam. At first it thought their puppet forces could win handily. Then it certainly thought a few thousand U.S. soldiers and Marines could do the job. U.S. soldiers now do most of the fighting in Vietnam and are taking most of the casualties. Despite massive intervention they are still losing. The bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong drive this home. If the U.S. is winning, as it claims, why is it forced to throw more and more men and planes into the war? This escalation results in greater opposition and greater casualties for the United States. Additionally, escalation undermines its political position at home and abroad.
Despite terror and blackmail the Vietnamese will not give in. Why should they negotiate? What is there to negotiate? Negotiations are useful, in this situation, only to the imperialists. U.S. imperialism is the aggressor. It is killing, burning, and gassing at an unprecedented rate. The Vietnamese can have only one answer: U.S. imperialism, get out now or be driven out.
By using these dual tactics the ruling class believes it can win. Its entire position is based on the necessity for victory. There is no compromise with a genocidal aggressor. The objective needs of imperialism make it take the forces of revolution head-on. As far as it is concerned, there is really a “red menace.” Nobody knows this better than the imperialists. Radicals and liberals who spout that the United States doesn’t know what it is doing, or doesn’t recognize reality, are either naive, or, in the case of the U.S. Communist Party (liberals in disguise), covering up for imperialism.
Differences have arisen within the ruling class regarding which tactic will best promote the deal. The Administration is relying more on increasing military action on the ground and in the air. To justify this it must claim victories. The cocky verbal arrogance marking recent U.S. pushes into the hinterlands of Vietnam have come a cropper. Claims of victories on the ground, and demoralization in the north, because of the air attacks, have fallen flat. This is evident even from accounts of “victories” in the capitalist press.
A typical example is the recent mauling of a Marine division near Laos. In this battle at least two companies were wiped out. The press accounts claimed that this defeat was inflicted on the Marines by a mysterious, phantom, elusive, spook-like north Vietnam division. To make things more ludicrous the press claimed that this disappearing division was, in fact, defeated by the wiped-out Marines. This is the character of U.S. ground “victories.” (A few more victories like this and the draft will jump to one hundred thousand a month.)
In the air war over Vietnam more than one thousand United States planes have been destroyed. This has depleted U.S. air reserves in Europe. The following quote exposes the big lie by the United States, that only 300 planes have been lost in Vietnam. On Jun 27, The Times carried a dispatch from West Germany which re-ported that the U.S. Army in Germany “is strongly feeling the impact of the war in Vietnam...The Seventh Army professionals interviewed reported that they had seen troop strength reduced to 50% of paper strength...A supply officer in an aviation battalion in West Europe was quoted as saying, ’We have been losing pilots to Vietnam at a fast clip, but we have not received a single replacement into the battalion for one year.’”
Faced with increasingly difficult problems in Vietnam, Kennedy, Fulbright, Morse and others feel that the deal can best be accomplished by limiting military action and accelerating political manuevering. They would like to see the operation under the UN umbrella. They would like to do a better job of concealing the actual reason that the United States is in Vietnam. They are more conscious of international political liabilities which arise from the nakedness of Johnson’s tactics. They would rely more on forces of revisionism, especially in the Soviet Union. They feel that each escalation of the war undermines the revisionist position of co-existence. Consequently, this makes it more difficult for the Soviets, and whatever forces the Soviets maybe relying on in Vietnam, to manuever the deal. They see that at this stage the United States is fighting, primarily the NLF, and can’t handle them. Therefore: they feel that the current price is high and will soon lead to a stiffer price if north Vietnam commits its major force into the south.
However, none of them are calling for the United States to leave Vietnam. They all proclaim that the United States must maintain a large base area in Vietnam. They believe occupation of parts of Vietnam by U.S. forces is necessary to achieve a deal which guarantees the local reactionaries political control and the U.S. military bases.
If policies of the Administration were going well these gentlemen would be sitting back rubbing their hands, waxing enthusiastic about how American democracy was being brought to Vietnam.
The Johnson Administration has not abandoned hope of a deal. It is not relying on a deal, and it is not relying too heavily on the Soviet Union. Its estimate is that Soviet pressure has not produced the desired results. The people of Vietnam are not accepting the deal. President Ho Chi Minh has made this abundantly clear. In December, 1965, and again recently, he said: “Vietnam is one. The Vietnamese people are one. As sons and daughters of the same fatherland our people in the North are bound to extend wholehearted support to the patriotic war waged by the people of the South against U.S. aggression, likewise those in the South are duty bound to fight with all their forces to contribute to the defense of the northern part of their fatherland. We contribute to the defense of the northern part of their fatherland. We are determined not to submit to U.S. imperialist aggression. Our people are determined to persevere in the fight, and undergo sacrifices for 10 or 20 years, or a longer time, till final victory.”
TO CAMOUFLAGE CRASS collusion with the United States, Soviet leaders are escalating militant verbiage in support of the Vietnamese. Soviet leaders and their friends in Washington still hope that Soviet influence can win the day in Vietnam. Therefore the Soviets cannot completely expose their position. To do so would nullify their ability to manuever with revolutionary forces. And if they were completely exposed they would be of little use to the United States. An editorial in The Times, July 15, underscores the unity of U.S. and Soviet policy in Vietnam as well as showing the greatest solicitude for Russian difficulties. “But the fact remains that Soviet-American relations have until now remained far better than seemed possible in the shadow of Vietnam. The basic reason is that the chief interests of the two countries correspond to an important degree.
...Both Moscow and Washington would like a quick negotiated peace in Vietnam,...It is precisely because the latest escalation of the Vietnam conflict has made Moscow’s position more difficult than ever that the United States must be prepared to show extraordinary maturity in the current situation. There should certainly be no retaliation for the unfortunate cancellation of the sports events or for any symbolic gestures that may follow.
On the contrary, the Johnson Administration would be well advised to look for additional ways to point up the Soviet interest in continued normal relations and negotiations with this country.” (Boy, how would you like to have The Times as a partner in a doublecross?)
Despite all difficulties Moscow remains the peace-talk nerve-center of the world. It is the Mecca to which all the peace seekers turn who are anxious to end the Vietnamese people’s revolutionary resistance to U.S. aggression short of the altogether just and minimum demands of the four-point stand of the DRV and the five-point statement of the south Vietnam NLF.
In swift succession Indira Gandhi, Harold Wilson and U.N. Gen. Sec. U Thant have made the trek. And, although the unyielding opposition of the Vietnamese people, the Chinese people and the people of the world have caused Moscow to exercise a certain degree of caution in its public statements, the Soviet revisionists continue to pursue their goal of a “peaceful settlement” in Vietnam, which in essence spells capitulation.
The Soviet-Indian joint communique issued on July 16 at the end of Indira Gandhi’s visit to Moscow breathes the Tashkent spirit. Soviet Premier Kosygin is himself the author of the Tashkent spirit, which has been loudly promoted by the Soviet leaders as the “correct concept” as opposed to the Vietnam concept (see New Times, #6, 1966). The Tashkent concept, with its undifferentiated “renunciation of the use of force,” is the concept of collaboration and capitulation to aggression as opposed to the “Vietnam concept”–the heroic resistance of a united, determined people against aggression.
The joint Soviet-Indian communique noted the identity or closeness of the viewpoints of the two states on a broad range of international questions. While it refrained under the circumstances from openly calling for anew Geneva conference, it echoed Johnson’s Omaha speech: ’the solution of the problem of Vietnam can be found only within the framework of the Geneva Agreements of 1954 on Indo-China.’ Nowhere did it see fit to mention that the U.S. had step by step torn the Geneva Agreements to shreds. (The U.S. has since completed the job with the bombing of the demilitarized zone set up by the Geneva Agreements.) The communique did not call on the U.S. to immediately end its aggression in Vietnam and withdraw all its forces at once. It made no distinction between aggressor and victim in Vietnam or between just and unjust war. What it did do is state that the two countries would ’combat attempts aimed at heightening international tension,’ called on “all governments to renounce the use of force” and urged that “the bombing of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam be stopped immediately.
At a news conference before her departure from Moscow, Mrs. Gandhi told the assembled press that nothing can be done until the U.S. stops bombing north Vietnam. ’Everybody appreciates our efforts and motives,’ she said, ’but the stand of the USSR is that any proposal should first have the approval of North Vietnam before they are able to commit themselves.’ It should be noted that the Soviet leaders did not say that they were against the capitulationist ’peace talks’ but only that they must first have the approval of north Vietnam. It should also be noted that their job in the international division of labor is to try to pressure north Vietnam into such ’approval’ from within.” (Lisa Armand, Challenge, July 22.)
Sparing no effort to keep the wheels greased for a deal, Kosygin goes to great lengths to differentiate between Johnson and the “madman” in the Pentagon. A Times story of June 9, said: “Premier Kosygin was reported to have said the U.S. policy in Vietnam has turned into inevitable failure. He blamed some advisers in Washington and not the entire government and mocked them for not coming up with a solution. Some advisers in Washington clearly did a disservice to the ruling quarters of the United States, the Premier said.”
The next day The Times made the following observations: “By predicting certain American failure in Vietnam and by exempting President Johnson from blame for it, analysts said, Mr. Kosygin may have been hinting at Moscow’s readiness to remove the Vietnam issue as an obstacle to a new search for some East-West accommodations...Such solicitude for the President has often been Moscow’s way of justifying business with him even while his government’s policies give offense.”
Pitifully aping their master’s policy, The Worker of July 3, says in regard to U.S. bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong: “Johnson made this decision upon the insistence of the Secretary of State, Dean Rusk, and against the advice of the Defense Department, which is convinced that this objective will embroil the nation in a full-scale World War.” It was only recently that The Worker had it the other way around. It used to claim that Johnson was the prisoner of the Defense Department and that Rusk was a moderating influence. (It’s getting tougher and tougher to be a revisionist these days, as the class struggle sharpens.)
The most shameful example of Soviet collusion with the United States arose after the bombings of Hanoi and Haiphong. Reacting to world protest with anger, panic, and confusion, the Johnson crew gave the game away. Marshall Wright, State Department official, said that “before the bombings the United States had notified various key interested governments.” He further said; “The United States was in continuous contact with the Soviet Union and other countries on all aspects of the struggle in Vietnam. And we have made clear, and will continue to make clear, to the Soviet Union the limited nature of our objectives in Asia.” On June 29, an AP reporter, William L. Ryan, said that there were “cautious approaches between the Soviet Union and the United States.” On June 30, the day after the bombings, A. Roshchin, the Soviet representative to the Geneva disarmament conference, made it clear that the bombings would not affect the possibility of the Soviet Union and the United States from arriving at some sort of disarmament agreement. In reply to a reporter’s question he said; “If we did not consider such a possibility we would not be here.”
The increased revolutionary action of the Vietnamese people and the more naked policy of U.S. imperialism makes it more difficult for the Soviet leaders to betray. Soviet policies of peaceful co-existence and accommodation with imperialism are being exposed by the revolutionary action of the Vietnamese people.
EVERY GOAL THE United States is pursuing in Vietnam is becoming remote. Indeed, the pursuance of these goals is having an opposite effect. The international political prestige of the United States has sunk to a new low. U.S. imperialism has been unmasked by the Vietnamese people. Who but the very few fall for the liberal pap of the United States? The King of Coke has been exposed as a brutal, ruthless, dying giant.
Instead of intimidating the revolutionary fighters around the world, the opposite has developed. People all over the world are inspired by the Vietnamese people. They have shown that it is people’s war which is invincible, and not U.S. imperialism. They are proving that the brutal giant can be beaten by a small revolutionary people. By relying primarily on their own resources 14 million people have taken on the cream of U. S. forces and are chopping them up. This demonstration has encouraged the people of the world as never before, speeding up the revolutionary process. They have exposed the revisionist-imperialist myth that arms and technology and not people determine everything.
The United States has been forced to go it alone in Vietnam. Despite much economic and political arm twisting none of the U.S. “allies” have intervened. In fact, NATO is in shambles, split by France. There is not one government that would intervene militarily. To do so would risk sharpening the class struggle at home. The working classes in these countries, with perhaps the exception of West Germany, are anti-imperialist. The masses are sympathetic to the Vietnamese and hope they win. It is also to the political and economic advantage of Western Europe to sit on the sidelines and watch the United States sink deeper into the pit of people’s war. The war expenses are draining the U.S. balance of payments. Huge war expenditures limit funds for modernization and investment. Because West Europe has maintained a lower percentage of military spending it can utilize its resources for more effective competition with the United States.
Counter-revolution in Vietnam is undermining revisionism. At this stage U.S. imperialism desperately needs revisionism. The split in the international communist movement is an important temporary victory for imperialism. To have agents in the working class movement is like money in the bank. None the less, the strategic position of revisionism grows weaker. The defeat of revisionism will be a body blow to imperialism. It will unite the world communist forces and allow them to go on to final victory over imperialism. Every tenet of the revisionists is being exposed by the heroic Vietnamese people. Co-existence as expounded by the Soviets is turning out to be a cruel hoax. Contrary to revisionist doctrines, imperialism changes not for the better, but, if anything, grows worse. U.S. aggression is consistent to its needs for world domination. In its aggression against other countries the U.S. destroys the revisionist myth of the liberal, moderate, sane, sober, realistic capitalist. Imperialism proves there are no good capitalists, but only exploiters who seek to control the world one way or another.
The actions of U.S. imperialism have forced the revisionist leaders to talk militantly to the people of their own country as well as the people of the world. While they may temporarily fool some and maintain the split, it demonstrates that people in these countries will not swallow revisionism hook, line and sinker. Imperialist policies are the gravedigger of revisionism. Imperialism has pushed revisionism closer to the wall. It may still have tactical strength but the day of reckoning is coming closer.
Counter-revolution in Vietnam is bringing the United States closer to war with China and, consequently, closer to its doom. While it is their eventual intention to defeat China, experience in Vietnam shows the magnitude of this problem. Even though they think they could win, the prospect of such a war shakes up all sections of the ruling class.
Additionally, the United States has yet to involve itself with the major portion of the north Vietnamese army. Can one imagine the military escalation required if the north Vietnamese feel it necessary to commit their magnificent 500,000 army backed up by millions in the People’s Militia? Add to this the Chinese army and the Chinese people and you can see the finish of imperialism. In the past the United States tended to believe its own chauvinism. They used to claim that one Marine was enough to take on ten of the opposition. Today the equation is exactly opposite. This bad miscalculation of revolutionary people is one reason that the United States is bogged down so badly in Vietnam. Even if the people in the United States went along with this colossal adventure, there would not be enough people to mobilize. And this doesn’t pretend to take into account at this writing the enormous political developments at home and abroad.
Counter-revolution in Vietnam has brought the Chinese even closer to the Vietnamese people. The Chinese have always correctly asserted that revolutionary forces must rely primarily on their own resources. However, this doesn’t mean that China has or will refrain from direct aid. The Johnson Administration has made it clear that the main supporter of the Vietnamese in material and personnel are the Chinese. They say that 40,000 Chinese are in Vietnam to maintain supply lines. Undoubtedly, this is true.
However, the United States likes to dig the Chinese (for the benefit of the revisionists) because the Chinese have not sent troops to Vietnam. The Chinese have made it more than clear that if the Vietnamese ask them to send troops they will. Those who recall the Korean War know this is no bluff. The fact is that imperialism can’t handle what it has gotten itself into now. None the less, the Chinese are preparing their country for a war with imperialism. When U.S. imperialism attacks China they will find the Chinese ready. In the meantime China will not be provoked by taunts.
The spectre of war with China has spawned additional tactical divisions within the ruling class. There are those who recognize the risks, but feel the longer they wait the worse it will get. There are those who favor greater use of political and ideological pressure while ringing China with bases. They argue it is better to wait until the present Chinese leaders die and then revisionism can be encouraged more successfully. They say that the Soviet experience shows this course more valid. However, the Chinese are not the Soviets. Recent events in China give this wing little comfort as the Chinese Communist Party prepares the people for a long term struggle against imperialism. Additionally, the Chinese are dealing body blows to internal opportunists. Given the internal and external line of the Chinese, their unyielding position, the United States becomes more desperate, more adventuresome, moving closer to war with China. But even as this develops the United States throws out dim lures to the Chinese. There is now talk of trade concessions, easing of travel restrictions, and cultural exchanges. These and other manuevers are aimed at lowering the Chinese vigilance, opening up the way for political and ideological penetration.
It is most unlikely that the Chinese will abandon their role in the world. Therefore the latest calls for the invasion of north Vietnam, and hence war with China, by the two-bit Feuhrer of Saigon should not be taken lightly. Ky has always tipped off the predominant thinking in Washington. He has always been used as a stalking horse for the next escalation of the war. It is not likely that he would run off at the mouth without the sanction of the higher ups. He knows that the United States could make him another Diem.
The Wall Street Journal of May 17 indicates how the drive for world domination can turn into its opposite and current U. S. attitudes can change in the face of defeat.
But if the U.S. is to be constantly embroiled policing the vast perimiters of the communist empires, it risks dissipating the very power that makes it the chief bulwark against the spread of communism....It must be doubted that rich and powerful as America is, can we cope with many such wars. Vietnam alone is straining our military resources far more than most people expected; apart from the military aspects of ’little wars,’ the renewed upheaval in Vietnam points up just how messy the political problems can become. A comparable outbreak of the Korean War, for example, could make the strain severe.
Concluding this editorial the Wall Street Journal sums up the U. S. position to date. “The U.S. is now apparently committing itself to fight as long as necessary and at whatever cost until it has won a so-called ’victory’... ”
Of the three major areas of political struggle, the labor movement is the least developed. It is here that the ruling class has made its greatest effort over the years. For a long time the ruling class was able to buy off large sections of these workers. This ability is diminishing with the intensification of ruling class contradictions. Organized workers usually earn no more than they need to get by in the affluent society, but earn more than unorganized workers. Some few, especially in the building trades, earn a bit more than is necessary for subsistence. However, the pinch is growing among all these workers and they are beginning to fight back from below. In some cases they force the union leaders to go along with their demands or circumvent them, putting themselves into struggle against the union leaders, the government, and the bosses simultaneously. Because the government and the Communist Party deradicalized the labor movement the workers have almost no political leadership today. Obviously this is a big obstacle to moving ahead and to securing alliances.
To raise the level of political struggle in the country it is necessary to change the labor leadership from pro-imperialist forces to anti-imperialist forces. This would be the decisive factor for the entire anti-imperialist movement in the U.S. It is the labor leaders who constitute the biggest obstacle preventing the sharpening of class struggle in our country. The ruling class has assiduously cultivated this situation over the last twenty years.
The key to achieving this important development is to introduce class consciousness into the labor movement. This can be done through alliances from the outside and winning communists from among the ranks of the workers. In the next period all efforts must be made to secure this goal.
All three movements: Black liberation, labor and peace, are in contradiction to various policies of the ruling class. Some students and intellectuals are openly anti-imperialist. Black people are thrashing around to end their economic and political oppression. Workers are fighting for their economic rights, threatening the rate of profit of the ruling class. The war in Vietnam is objectively contradictory to all these efforts. Currently, there is the basis for students and intellectuals to support the economic efforts of workers. Done skillfully it would enable them to raise the issue of Vietnam.
Recently, at a national SDS meeting, black power was endorsed. In some of the independent campaigns actions have been taken supporting the black people’s fight against terror in the ghettoes. In Chicago students have organized to help defend those arrested in the ghettoes during the rebellion.
Within particular strike situations, like the Transport Workers strike in New York, it is possible to have unity between black and white workers around the immediate issues. This unity could be extended if the unions pursued a consistent fight for economic demands that would help all workers (6 hours work for 8 hours pay). Additionally, the unions would have to combat chauvinism by fighting for at least equal job opportunities and advancement for black workers. The general point is that any struggle which hurts the ruling class is good. And even at the lowest level of fighting there is a chance to develop aspects of unity, partial unity, leading eventually to higher levels of unity. This process should be viewed in stages, and pursued with patience and skill.
To develop the united front against imperialism a consistent ideological struggle must be pursued against revisionism. In this period the ruling class is going to use the revisionists more than ever to disorient the movement and split it. Radicals in this country have always been weak on the question of the class nature of the state apparatus, and the Communist Party has historically been opportunist on this basic question.
WITHIN THE U.S. the war has brought qualitative changes upon the political and economic life of the country. For the first time in a long time millions of Americans are opposed to the foreign policy of the government. Hundreds of thousands are acting and organizing against it. The war has sharpened the contradiction between students, intellectuals, workers, black people, sections of the petty bourgeoisie on the one hand and the ruling class on the other hand. Thousands of students and intellectuals are questioning the entire academic edifice. More and more view the university system on a class basis. Thousands are beginning to question the system itself. This is developing because of the exposure of the university as a tool of the ruling class and its relation to the war of genocide in Vietnam. Very few people today on the campus, even if they support the Government policies, believe the pretence that the U.S. is in Vietnam to allow the Vietnamese to determine their own destiny.
Among the black people there is a growing resistance to the war as black workers are being used in disproportionate numbers to kill and be killed in Vietnam. Moreover, they see better than anyone the fake slogans of the ruling class, who claim that all they are doing in Vietnam is bringing “freedom” and “democracy” there. More black people are speaking and acting directly against the war in Vietnam, linking it to their battle for self-determination.
Millions of workers are moving to sharper class struggle. The ruling class promise of the “good life” with imperialism has blown up in their faces. Because of fewer markets around the world, and increased competition, it is forced to turn the screw against its own workers. Gone are the easy bribes. Gone is the myth of “class peace.” The greater the escalation of the war the more the strikes. The war acts against every interest of the working class. Their sons are drafted and killed. Their communities deteriorate because tax money is used for the war. Wages are reduced because of inflation, taxes, and the “National Interest” wage freeze. (3.2% See Editorial June-July PL for documentation.) Unemployment continues because of speed-up and intensified automation necessary for competition. Class consciousness will grow and the ability to raise these current battles beyond economic levels into anti-imperialist battles is in the cards.
Many small business people are going bankrupt. Big producers and distributors are forcing marginal people out. Their small investments are being eaten up by inflation and stock market instability. Additionally, their children are threatened with death as the ruling class ups the war and runs out of workers’ children. This is why many of these people are in the growing peace movement.
If the war was meant to stabilize the economy it has already failed. An arms economy based on deficit financing only intensifies the basic contradictions in the economy. The ruling class and their state apparatus rush pell mell from one trouble spot to the next to keep the economy alive. This is manifested by the gold reserve drainage, by the change in the interest rates, by the failure of plant investment to grow even during a war, by the falling off of construction starts, by the repeated breaking of the stock market, by increased freezing out of U.S. investments in Europe by the European ruling class, and so on.
The plain facts are that the U.S. ruling class, slowly but surely, is beginning to lose its political grip over various sectors of the population. There is a growing lack of confidence in U.S. imperialism.
James Reston in The Times of July 1 comments on this phenomenon. He said: “The Johnson administration may finally get over its agony in Vietnam–it may even achieve its military objective in the end–but it will probably never regain the confidence that it has lost in its judgment and veracity.
With the bombings of the outskirts of Hanoi and Haiphong it has now done almost everything it said or it indicated it would not do except bomb China, and the end of this melancholy chapter in American history is not yet.
The Johnson administration said it was not seeking a military solution to the war, and it is now seeking precisely that. It said it was there merely to help a legitimate government defend itself, and it has ended up supporting a military clique that is not a government, not legitimate and is not really defending itself.
....There is certainly little faith here in the official spoken word; there is immense power but little confidence in anything except that this power will probably be used by Lyndon B. Johnson until Jan. 20, 1973.
Reston’s melancholy comment on the status of present-day imperialism mirrors its present political and moral decay. Undoubtedly, Reston and others hope for something better after 1973. This is their manifestation of subjectivity. Imperialism’s position will not improve, but will continue to decline. The war of aggression against a small nation is turning into its opposite. It is a war to preserve the imperialist system. The revolutionary war by the people of Vietnam has opened the way for, and brought closer, the complete defeat of the U.S. The revolutionary process in Vietnam has opened doors to sharper struggle all over the world, including right here in the U.S. The defeat of U.S. imperialism in Vietnam can be the STALINGRAD of U. S. imperialism. It will be that defeat that will push the U.S. into its last moments. These are the stakes involved in defeating U.S. imperialism in Vietnam.
IF ONE OF THE GOALS of progressive mankind is to build a world-wide front against imperialism it certainly must be the job to build a united front against imperialism at home. No single segment of the population can win by itself. This doesn’t in anyway take away from the magnificent efforts made by students and intellectuals, who at this moment are in the forefront of the effort against the war.
To defeat imperialism we need the broadest movement possible around a clear anti-imperialist program: the demand for the United States to “get out of Vietnam now. ” This slogan is realistic. The war is in contradiction to the interests of the workers and wide sections of our people. This demand will expose the phony slogan of “negotiate now,” with which the ruling class is trying to control the peace movement and turn the mass discontent to their purposes. This slogan can prevent the revisionists, front men for the Kennedys, from misleading the peace movement and placing it in the service of imperialism.
There is tremendous opposition to the war in our country. The war has become the main electoral issue in the coming campaign. Johnson has emphasized this by classifying anyone who opposes his policies or questions them as something less than a man. The Democratic primaries indicated broad opposition to the war. Although the candidacies didn’t express the current sentiment for immediate withdrawal, in California and New York, the Scheer, Dubin, and Weiss campaigns barely missed winning. “A number of New Jersey Democratic leaders, alarmed by the growing grass roots dissatisfaction in the state with Pres. Johnson’s Vietnam policy, are seriously considering breaking with the President on Vietnam in the fall campaign. One of the party’s most influential state leaders firmly believes that Democratic candidates must come out emphatically in favor of de-escalation of the war and hope that Johnson ’brings a rabbit out of the hat’ in time to avert Republican victories in November....
....In the congressional races where the Vietnam issue may be decisive, Mr. Helstoski has taken one of the most exhaustive polls on Vietnam made by any other member of the House. He sent a series of questions on Vietnam to 165,000 families in his district and roughly 20% responded. All told 57% favored the President’s policy, 43% didn’t, compared to a 75%-25% response in favor of the President’s position one year ago. (Times, June 27, Ronald Sullivan)
A recent poll by Life reporters in Chicago showed that in an area inhabited largely by wage earners, 59% of those queried favored getting out of Vietnam, “regardless of consequences.” In an area made up of predominantly business and professional people, 43% favored “immediate withdrawal.” The latest Iowa poll conducted by the Des Moines Register among farmers showed 33% approving the war as compared to 56% in January.
Within the Army itself considerable dissatisfaction with the war has broken out. Letters have been introduced into the Congressional Record from servicemen. Scores of letters have appeared in the press from servicemen or families describing discontent. And there have been widespread expressions of opposition in the Army. This was dramatically characterized by the article in Ramparts by Donald Duncan, and more recently the refusal of the three GIs to go to Vietnam. Many stories have appeared about the low morale of the black troops who represent a high percentage of the fighting forces. To squelch this sentiment Johnson has just sent Whitney Young, president of the Urban League, to whitewash this charge. After a whole five days in Vietnam he claimed the black soldiers love it there, are ready to die for the country, but just need a few more black officers. “Yeah boss!”
U.S. News and World Report June 13 summed up the fear of this reality when it quoted one U.S. official as saying; “Can you imagine what will happen in the U.S. if several thousand American wives and mothers begin getting letters from South Vietnam in which the writers, Americans, would say that the U.S. has no business here and should get out?”
Those in the ruling class who have some tactical differences with the Administration want to harness this feeling and keep it within the two party system. Many radicals, and of course the revisionists, are always eager to unite with these forces and rely on them. This would be in opposition to breaking from the two-party system and developing independent forms of struggle and formations. In the prior case it would mean a “united front” with the warmakers. This would be like the last election when liberals and revisionists united with Johnson, leader of the war camp. Currently it would place Bobby Kennedy, one of the main architects of the Vietnam war at the head of the peace movement. This would effectively emasculate the anti-war movement and convert it at best into the “loyal opposition.”
Consequently, one of the first tasks in developing a united front against imperialism is to see the need for it, to define the overall slogan, and to determine the component forces.
In developing this united front it is important to understand that each section of the population is at different political levels, has different short-term interests, and has different obstacles that prevent it from moving ahead and uniting with others. Therefore, we must recognize this development not as an immediate prospect, but something that must be pursued slowly and diligently. It may be possible in the early stages to reach partial unity on different levels, thus laying the basis for more complete unity in the future.
Among students and intellectuals the anti-war movement has developed a broad base. However, there is growing frustration rising from the fact that actions to date are unsatisfactory and have not had an impact on the Administration. The bigger the demonstrations the bigger the war. To prevent demoralization it is absolutely necessary to develop a long-range outlook and the need to work for alliances. It is also important to strengthen the revolutionary wing and forces among these people in order to prevent the ruling class and its stooges in the peace movement from pushing this movement to the right and turning it into the “loyal opposition.” Some of the advanced forces within this movement want to go beyond the demonstration and advertisement type of activity, and hold back their labor power. They want to organize a national one- or two-hour strike of university students and intellectuals in the fall. This would be excellent and would advance the movement to a new high. However, it would be necessary to maintain all the positive “old” forms of action as well, to win over wavering elements as they reach positions previously held by the now more advanced forces, and to neutralize some of the hostile forces.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle in this field is the antagonism held for the working class, an attitude holding that the working class is corrupt, unable to be won to advanced positions. This notion must be combated and defeated. Previous information in this article (which could be enlarged on– June-July PL) show that in working class communities and in unions there are growing opportunities to reach and organize workers against the war. For students not to seek out the ways and means for these alliances, no matter how difficult, would be a big victory for the ruling class, and would weaken a long-range effort to defeat the ruling class.
During the struggle of the Hazard miners, the Delano Grape strike, and other class battles, thousands of students and intellectuals have demonstrated their class sympathies. These attitudes must be sustained, encouraged, and systematized into permanent alliances with the base of the working class and the labor movement.
Among the black masses one of the main problems is to stay alive. Racism takes a terrible toll of the black people. Their movement is presently oriented against an army of oppressors at home. The demands are for jobs, equality, housing, schools, against brutality, and now the question of power has been broached in order to achieve these basic goals. Of late, with the mass influx of black workers into the army, the issue of Vietnam has come to the fore. Additionally, more advanced levels of struggle have been developed to cope with police terror. Armed self-defense! Rebellions have spread across the land and in several instances have required the Army to be used to put them down. Even though these rebellions are uncoordinated and mainly unled they reflect the fact that black masses are in advance of other sectors of the population. The concepts of power and sharp struggle are something that the ruling class is very familiar with in Vietnam. And when it reaches a very high level of ideology and organization the ruling class knows that it is in for it.
It appears that the militant segment of the civil-rights movement has moved to higher ground, and no longer relies on the state apparatus to solve matters. Realizing you can’t unite with your oppressor if you want to win freedom, SNCC is organizing outside of the Democratic Party. This is an important development and could be copied by the peace movement. Some of the problems that keep the Black Liberation movement from moving further ahead are: the lack of a unified black liberation movement with a cohesive national leadership; the development of reactionary nationalism, which reduces the struggle to a simple hate-white outlook play into the hands of the ruling class. Phony nationalism works against alliances and allows the ruling class to step up programs against the black community.
However, until the black masses organize themselves around a clear program for self-determination alliances with other forces will be fragmentary and temporary. The basis for long term stable alliances is program and organization for power. Presumably this is the direction in which those advocating black power are moving. Intrinsic to any development of this kind are black forces with a Marxist-Leninist outlook, forces which can take the movement all the way, forces that have the ability to transform the national struggle into class struggle.
The aim of revisionism in this period will be to try to steer labor, students, and black people behind the so-called liberal imperialists. They will pose as militants but will try to move most of the people’s forces into the Democratic Party. They did this in the Scheer, Dubin, and Weiss campaigns. When they feign independence, they will propose false slogans to get imperialism off the hook and muddle the issues. The Aptheker campaign in Brooklyn is an example of this. In this “independent” campaign he never calls for the U.S. to get out of Vietnam. He speaks of “ending the war,” like any other pacifist or spokesman for the Reform ’Democrats. The logic of this is to split the peace forces in this area, which he did. The anti-imperialist forces in this are organized around Get Out of Vietnam Now.
Unfortunately, many decent forces in the left are sucked in by the revisionists and haven’t reached the level of political consciousness to stave off these various lures. If you want to defeat imperialism you must defeat any of its ideas which exist in the anti-imperialist movement. No movement can succeed using the ideas of its enemies. The success of a growing anti-imperialist movement requires the development of a growing revolutionary component with its Marxist-Leninist thought. This has been proven valid all over the world and the U.S. is no exception.
Historically, the ruling class has outflanked the left by creating the illusion that basic change can come by using bourgeois forms. The revisionists and opportunists have always perpetuated this myth. Change will only come when the people build their own political instruments, when they learn that there is no easy way and rely on their own efforts.
As the anti-imperialist movement grows in ideology and numbers the ruling class will attack it vigorously. This movement must prepare itself for such attacks and devise the ways and means of turning them into their opposite. If the U.S. ruling class is the most ruthless then it will retreat to fascism to smash the people’s movement. Any underestimation of the real character of the ruling class leaves the movement open for destruction. It is here that the revisionist ideas become extremely dangerous when they advocate transformation of the system by parliamentary and constitutional means. Recent experiences in the ghettoes around the country should prove the ruthlessness of the ruling class when confronted by an aroused people.
BECAUSE OF THE revolutionary struggle of the Vietnamese people unprecedented opportunities have opened up in our country. In the coming period our party should be able to grow and organize among all important sections of the population. Thousands of people are questioning a system that can only survive on war and exploitation. Revolutionary ideas are our passport to these people.
It is impossible to develop unbreakable ties to the people without ideas and strategy which in the long run the people will view as indispensable to achieving their aspirations. If, in this coming period, we can develop these ties and develop our strategy and tactics to a higher level our party will become indispensible to significant numbers of people. Given this development it will be impossible for the ruling class to destroy us or the people’s movement which we aim to encourage and build.
In summary, radicals and communists must grasp the essence of the war in Vietnam. It is a war basic to the survival of imperialism, and as the war continues the fight will grow sharper. They must prepare themselves for the long hard battle ahead. An understanding of the stake that imperialism and the forces of revolution have in this revolutionary war can give us the guide to acquire the tools to go all the way.