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International Socialist Review, Spring 1965


United Secretariat of the Fourth International

Hands Off the Vietnamese Revolution

Crisis over South Vietnam


From International Socialist Review, Vol.26 No.2, Spring 1965, pp.34, 62.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


[The following statement on the latest military attacks by American imperialism against the Vietnamese people was issued by the United Secretariat of the Fourth International on February 16.]

* * *

Repeating the pattern of military aggression last August, when it bombed North Vietnam sites in “reprisal” for alleged attacks on naval craft in the Gulf of Tonkin, American imperialism, in combination with its puppet South Vietnam forces, launced two air assaults on villages of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam on February 7-8.

The United Secretariat of the Fourth International condemns these bombings with the deepest indignation as acts of the most barbarous aggression aimed at intimidating the Vietnamese people in their struggle for freedom and social emancipation. The attempt to intimidate the Vietnamese people has no chance whatever to succeed. But it threatens to take humanity, through “escalation,”over the brink into a world nuclear holocaust.

The American imperialist aggression comes at a time when the counterrevolutionary forces in South Vietnam are suffering defeat after defeat and when their regime is in a state of complete disintegration. Already in control of three-fourths of the territory of South Vietnam, moving in bigger and bigger formations, the heroic guerrilla fighters of the National Liberation Front in South Vietnam have for some months been directly attacking the American military bases set up on South Vietnam territory under the guise of centers for military “advisers.” In reality these centers are bases for 23,000 officers and soldiers of the American armed forces, who are involved in a direct and savage way, with the employment of immense military equipment, against the guerrilla forces of the Vietnamese people.

It is possible that in their blind arrogance, the heads of the Pentagon really think it sufficient to bomb North Vietnam territory to convince Hanoi and Peking to “put a stop” to the South Vietnamese guerrilla operations against the American bases and to leave the Pentagon free to crush the revolutionary struggle at its leisure. Such a belief merely reveals how little the American rulers understand the real feelings of the anti-imperialist forces in Southeast Asia and how abysmally ignorant they are of what has happened in South Vietnam.

It is not a question of a “conspiracy,” the strings of which are skillfully “manipulated” by the “aggressive Communists” of Peking and their Hanoi “allies.” What is involved is a genuine mass revolution. In fact, the uprising of the South Vietnamese peasants after the Geneva conference of 1954 against the bloody Diem regime and against the confiscation of peasant land holdings in favor of the feudalistic landlords, occurred before the formation of the National Liberation Front. A new stage has now opened in the Vietnamese revolution. This is marked by the movement of the urban masses, Buddhist demonstrations, workers’ strikes, and student actions. These began spontaneously, before the National Liberation Front launched action slogans in the cities. Even if the Kremlin and Peking wanted to sacrifice South Vietnam for the sake of an over-all deal with Washington, they are powerless to stop the revolution.

It is the popular base of this revolution, which includes the immense majority of the inhabitants of the country, that makes the revolutionary audacity of the young guerrillas – and not “instructions” from Peking – that is behind the attacks on the American military bases. Against the power of the revolutionary masses, American imperialism, including its military “advisers” and its bomber pilots, is impotent. They can massacre thousands of innocent victims in inhuman “reprisals” that recall the Nazi reprisals against Lidice and Oradour; they cannot destroy the revolution. French imperialism found this out in the case of Algeria. In reprisal for Tunisia’s aid to the guerrilla fighters, the French bombed Bizerte and Sakiet, but these bloody acts of vengeance did not stop the Algerian freedom fighters from winning political freedom for their country. In truth, the American bombings of North Vietnam villages are self-defeating. The more barbarous and inhuman the American militarists become, the greater the indignation of the masses grows and along with it their support to the revolution.

The bombing of the North Vietnam villages only expresses the dilemma faced by American imperialism in Southeast Asia.

If it “hardens” its positions, “escalating” the policy of intervening in the civil war into a policy of waging war on North Vietnam and even China, the Asian workers states will quite understandably increase their support to the South Vietnamese revolution by more and more radical means, including a massive build up of volunteers. Imperialism will then be confronted with the perspective of an immediate defeat on the scene in South Vietnam unless, in turn, it increases its armed forces there, including infantry. But this would mean a new “Korean-type” war in South Vietnam in which imperialism would become more and more bogged down, draining its forces without the slightest perspective of victory. Under these circumstances, the Soviet bureaucracy, which up to now has maintained an attitude of criminal passivity in face of the imperialist aggression – particularly last August – a passivity which in fact encouraged imperialism to do whatever it felt like and to step up its aggression, would be obliged on its side to furnish diplomatic, economic and military support to the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the South Vietnam revolution, still further reducing the chances for an imperialist victory in that part of the world.

This “hard” line, which is advocated by certain influential circles in the United States, fits in with the strategy of seeking a military showdown with China before it can become a nuclear power of major importance. One of the objectives would be to bomb the Chinese nuclear center in the Taklamaken desert. That this is seriously under consideration in White House circles is shown by the anxiety of the best-informed American newspapers, which, in contrast to the complacent attitude of the European press, particularly in Britain, act as if the Johnson administration is on the verge of irreparable decisions.

If American imperialism does not follow this course, but, on the contrary, recognizes the impossibility of consolidating the beachhead it seized in South Vietnam and utilizes the crisis touched off by its bombings in North Vietnam as a shield behind which to reach a “peaceful understanding” on the Vietnamese question, then fateful consequences of a different kind can occur. Through the transitional state of a “broad national government” and a “neutralist regime,” the South Vietnam revolution can continue its march toward the complete destruction of the semifeudal vestiges and the power of imperialism and native capitalism, opening the way for achievement of a socialist Vietnam. In this case, imperialism would “lose” Laos and Cambodia in the immediate future. The announcement that a National Liberation Front has been set up in Thailand to co-ordinate the activities of the guerrillas already widely active there is the handwriting on the wall for imperialism. Just as the revolution in South Vietnam followed the victory of the revolution in North Vietnam and the 1954 Geneva agreement, so the Thailand revolution will be touched off by the victory of the revolution in South Vietnam and this will unsettle Malaysia, the last solid imperialist position in Southeast Asia.

From the point of view of the interests of the revolution and of all humanity, it would be clearly preferable for American imperialism to choose as quickly as possible the road of retreat and withdrawal, even if by stages. But it would be a delusion and self-deception to believe that such a decision is certain, that “reason” will lead American imperialism to back down rather than opt for an immediate catastrophic outcome. The fact is that the latest imperialist aggression against North Vietnam, like that of last August and the imperialist aggression against Cuba in October 1962, shows that the first reaction of American imperialism, above all the heads of the Pentagon, is to strike without the least regard for either national or international law. Only the vigorous reaction of the revolutionary masses in the colonial world, the governments of the workers states, international public opinion and popular reaction in the United States itself can make it hesitate and draw back temporarily.

The latest imperialist aggression against North Vietnam, which could prove to be the opening move toward direct military confrontation between imperialism and the People’s Republic of China, and then the USSR, underlines the warning repeatedly made by the Fourth International: The need to overturn the power of imperialism in the United States, of creating a socialist America, has become a problem of life or death for all of humanity. As long as American imperialism holds enormous economic and technical power, capable of destroying mankind in a nuclear holocaust, the threat remains suspended over humanity. The struggle for the ‘world victory of socialism is not only a struggle for a better society today. It has become literally a struggle for the physical survival of mankind.

The United Secretariat of the Fourth International appeals to the workers of all countries to show in an energetic way, through action, their condemnation of the imperialist aggression against North Vietnam and their solidarity with the Democratic Republic of Vietnam and the heroic masses fighting in the South Vietnamese revolution.

We appeal to the governments of the workers states to set up an unbreakable United Front against imperialism and for the defense of the Vietnamese revolution. Divisions in the anti-imperialist front can only encourage and facilitate the aggressions of the Pentagon.

We appeal to the British workers to protest vigorously against the criminal stand of the Wilson Labour government which has become an accomplice in the imperialist aggression against the Vietnamese people.

We appeal to the workers of the United States to oppose the irresponsible military clique who have deprived even Congress, the traditional body of bourgeois democracy, from deciding the country’s foreign policy and who are ready, in brazen violation of the rejection of “Goldwaterism” in the last election, to precipitate the United States into a nuclear war. Let the American people themselves decide whether they want war or peace! Let the American people set up a new political and governmental framework capable of carrying out their will!

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