ISR Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

International Socialist Review, Winter 1966


Kipp Dawson

Why We Say Bring the Troops Home Now


From International Socialist Review, Vol.27 No.1, Winter 1966, pp.16-17.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


At meetings of the independent caucus during the Washington convention, we discussed why the caucus should be for the withdrawal of US troops from Vietnam now. It was clearly the consensus of the caucus, expressed through a vote of the overwhelming majority, that this should be our approach. A point clarified by the discussion was that our call for immediate withdrawal of troops was not a specific slogan, but rather a general stand which could be expressed in many different ways, and that members of the caucus will, of course, raise many other points during the course of their anti-Vietnam-war work. Some of the reasons for the general stand of immediate US withdrawal from Vietnam discussed in this article were raised in caucus discussions, and others are the result of my own further thinking.

In the first place, immediate withdrawal of US troops is what most of the independent committees are really fighting for. The fastest way to end the war is for the US to get out. It is clear that the US bears the responsibility for the war and for its continuation. If the US pulls out, the mass bombing, napalming and murder of Vietnamese would stop, and the lives of American soldiers would be saved.

Most of the independent committees stand for the self-determination of Vietnam. The idea that the US should get out of Vietnam is part and parcel of the idea of self-determination. On the other hand, the “negotiations” approach adopted by the leaders of the SANE [National Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy] march and some of the delegates at the National Coordinating Committee convention, implies that the US has the right to negotiate the future of Vietnam. The US does not have the right to negotiate what kind of government the Vietnamese people will have, or to negotiate an American “presence” in Vietnam, or to negotiate any of the affairs of the Vietnamese people. The Vietnamese people have the right to decide their own future without interference from the United States. The presence of US troops, even if a cease-fire were arranged, would preclude real self-determination for the Vietnamese. The only just demand is that the US get out of Vietnam now, and allow the Vietnamese people to decide their own future.

An editorial in the November issue of the pacifist magazine, Liberation, said, in part:

“... the slogan ‘negotiated peace’ leaves us a bit wary. In negotiations each side is supposed to give a little, to compromise its position. Perhaps that’s the way this war will end; perhaps the National Liberation Front will agree to something less than full self-determination and immediate withdrawal of American troops. If that is the case, we hold no quarrel with people who have fought and bled for a quarter of a century, against French, Japanese and now American intervention. In their circumstance an honorable compromise may be warranted. But for decent Americans to call for such a compromise in advance, is an immoral apologia for the criminal deeds of our administration ... The only decent thing the United States can do by way of atoning for its misdeeds is to stop shooting and get out! That’s what we pacifists should be demanding – cease fire, withdrawal ... The term ‘negotiated peace’ implies that there is some justice on our side. But there is none; we have nothing whatsoever to be proud of in Vietnam. We should stop shooting. We should get out!

Some who attack the program of withdrawal now, do so on the grounds that people won’t understand the idea, or will think it to be too “radical.” I think this is very wrong. The idea of bringing the troops home is simple, clear, direct and understandable. It is obviously the way to end the war, and stop the killing of our own soldiers. Soldiers who become opposed to the war or doubtful about it, are going to want to come home. A movement back here that is calling for the troops to come home is the most likely to evoke sympathy from the troops, and will not appear to be against them and what they want. Another editorial in Liberation, in the December issue, is titled: Support the GIs; Bring Them Home. This is a good idea for us to publicize, because when we demand that the troops be brought home, we are the ones who are really on the troops side, not those who would have them stay in Vietnam to die in an unjust cause. The mothers, families and friends of soldiers in Vietnam will also respond to this demand, because they, too, want them brought home, and the sooner the better.

The program of withdrawal is the best way to link up with the ordinary American who becomes opposed to the war – and we can expect that as the war intensifies and casualties mount, more and more people will become opposed to Americans fighting and dying in Vietnam.

A final point is that the demand for withdrawal of US troops puts the blame for the war where it really lies: with the US government. It makes it clear that we are opposed to the government’s war, that we don’t accept Johnson’s war at all and are opponents of it. Our caucus, which is organizing on the basis of withdrawal, is attempting to strengthen the most dynamic section of the antiwar movement which puts the most pressure on the administration to end the war, and to increase the effectiveness of the movement as a whole.

Top of page

ISR Index | Main Newspaper Index

Encyclopedia of Trotskyism | Marxists’ Internet Archive

Last updated on 5 June 2009