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Johnson Administration in a Dilemma

[This article is reprinted from Peking Review, #9, Feb. 26, 1965, pp. 11-12.]

Following is a translation of “Renmin Ribao’s” February 19 editorial. Boldface emphases are ours. —Ed.

THE war of aggression by the United States in south Viet Nam has become a noose around its neck. To get out of it, U.S. imperialism is trying to expand the war in Indo-China. But contrary to its expectations, it finds the noose getting tighter and tighter.

U.S. imperialism has repeatedly attacked the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam, adopting a swashbuckling posture as if it would not hesitate to risk a bigger war. In point of fact, it is outwardly strong but inwardly brittle; it is weak and jittery despite its fearful appearance.

The New York Times reported that an atmosphere of uneasiness and anxiety prevailed in Washington in the last few days. It pointed out that “escalation of the war in Viet Nam, such as took place last week, has led the United States to the entrance of a one-way street,” that is, “a major war” in Southeast Asia. Walter Lippmann, a Wall Street ideaman, hastily warned Johnson against repeating the error of Truman. Everybody now knows what a miserable end the Truman Administration came to in the Korean war. The impending total defeat of its war of aggression in south Viet Nam and the prospect of receiving another lesson similar to that in Korea have thrown Washington into a dilemma and unending anxiety.

Because it cannot go on as it has in south Viet Nam any longer, the Johnson Administration is anxious to try escalating the war in Indo-China. For years, the United States has been fighting a “special war” in south Viet Nam. Far from winning, it is now at a loss as to how to go on with it. Even General Maxwell Taylor, author of “special warfare,” had to admit that he knew of “no ground rules” governing this type of war.

What are rules? Rules are a reflection of the process of development of objective things independent of the will of human beings. People gain initiative only when they grasp the rules of things. When U.S. imperialism unleashed “special warfare” in south Viet Nam it evidently thought that half of Viet Nam was no match for the number one imperialist power. It never expected that as soon as it intruded into south Viet Nam it would be encircled by the people as though falling into a vast sea and in danger of being drowned. It is not the rules of “special warfare” but those of the people’s war that operate there. The people of south Viet Nam have fully exploited the unlimited potentialities of a people’s war and beaten the U.S. aggressors black and blue. The “Staley-Taylor Plan,” the “heliborne tactics,” the “strategic hamlets,” “limited retaliation” and what not have all gone with the wind. Even the personal command of the war by Maxwell Taylor, whom Washington considers its ablest man, is of no avail. Brave, alert and quick, the south Viet Nam liberation forces have, within the short space of three and a half months, inflicted six bitter defeats on the U.S. aggressors.

That U.S. imperialism will lose the war is now a foregone conclusion. Each extra day it stays in south Viet Nam means another day’s trouncing. Its ultimate failure is inevitable.

U.S. imperialism places its hope of retrieving its defeat in south Viet Nam on the venture of escalating the war in Indo-China. Again its move is the wrong one. The United States and its south Vietnamese quislings have committed war provocations against the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam and taken the lead in breaking the demarcation line between south and north Viet Nam, thus giving the D.R.V. the right and the initiative to hit back in self-defence, and giving China and all other countries which uphold the Geneva agreements the right to aid the D.R.V. in resisting U.S. aggression. In other words, U.S. imperialism has placed the ends of the noose around its neck in the hands of the south Vietnamese people, the D.R.V., China and all other countries which uphold the Geneva agreements.

It is now asserted in Washington that China’s intentions are still not clear. Does Johnson want to find out China’s true intentions? As a matter of fact they are very clear. So long as you are willing to hand us one end of the noose, we are sure to seize it tightly. How far you go is your own affair. But if you think that the war can be made to develop as you wish, that is a matter you cannot decide.

U.S. imperialism is doing its utmost to intimidate us, saying that it has naval and air superiority and aren’t you afraid of this?

But what is that naval and air superiority? It is only a few hundred warships and several thousand aircraft. If U.S. nuclear blackmail has failed to cow people, how can its naval and air superiority ever succeed in doing so? To be frank, no matter how many warships and aircraft the United States may possess, they will not enable it to dominate the world. Far from being afraid of them, the revolutionary people in every land are able to make them rush about from one part of the world to another. The more the United States over-reaches itself, the more vulnerable it will become. It will find itself beaten everywhere, and its being driven from pillar to post all over the world will be more clearly seen.

In so far as the south Vietnamese battlefront is concerned, the United States indeed has naval and air superiority. But what has become of it? The U.S. air force bases in south Viet Nam are now in constant danger of being attacked. In a single raid on the Bien Hoa airfield the south Viet Nam liberation forces destroyed or damaged 59 U.S. planes. The B-57 long-range bombers which remained had to take refuge in the Philippines.

In view of the insecurity of the air force bases, three more aircraft carriers have been brought in. But even if all 12 U.S. aircraft carriers in the Pacific are deployed in this area it would only mean 12 more airfields on the sea. What can a few more aircraft carriers do since the outcome of the war in south Viet Nam has to be decided on land?

U.S. naval and air superiority hasn’t been able to do much even in south Viet Nam. How then can it he relied on to expand the war? The United States is indeed over-reaching itself in trying to do such a thing.

Though the Johnson Administration wants to expand the war in Indo-China, it has great difficulty because it lacks the necessary means. Its war provocations against the Democratic Republic of Viet Nam have once again served to arouse the opposition of the people of the world to U.S. imperialism.

At home, the political people has greatly increased. Demonstrations against the Johnson Administration’s expansion of the war have taken place one after another and assumed unprecedented proportions. Inside U.S. ruling circles and even within the Democratic Party there are persons who are worried that such a move by Johnson would invite big trouble.

Some days ago a few of the allies and satellites of the United States were beating the drums for it but they are now as quiet as cicadas in late autumn. Throughout this wide world, the Johnson Administration cannot find a single true follower except its own shadow.

The Johnson Administration is neither willing to accept defeat nor bold enough to face the consequences of an extended war, and so it is in a tight spot. This is the real background to the constant talk in Washington about so-called negotiations from positions of strength.

The aim of the Johnson Administration is quite clear—to get at the conference table what it could not get on the battlefield. It wants to bind the south Viet Nam liberation forces hand and foot, and strengthen the positions of the U.S. forces and the puppet regime so as to get a breathing spell. Isn’t it too much wishful thinking on Johnson’s part to hope to grab back at the conference table what it has lost on the battlefield? Can anything ever be so easy for the United States? Peace in Viet Nam can he readily achieved, but it can only be after the U.S. aggressors have withdrawn from south Viet Nam and certainly not before. The United States must stop its aggression and intervention in Indo-China and let the Indo-Chinese peoples settle their own problems.

The days of U.S. imperialism in south Viet Nam are numbered. Sooner or later it will be kicked out or wiped out. We have long ago advised the U.S. imperialists: It’s better for you to quit early. We shall bid you farewell if you go; if you choose to stay, you are welcome too. For, in the latter case, the people of south Viet Nam will continue to engage you in battle and obtain an endless supply of weapons free of charge; you teachers by negative example will continue to serve a useful purpose by educating and mobilizing the people of various countries. What’s bad about that? To stay or get out is for you to decide.

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