Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 27, No. 8. 1964.
Sir,—The issues at stake in S. Vietnam are not so clear-cut as some (Mr. Holyoake included) would like us to believe.
Numerous observers there have remarked on the wide support given the anti-government forces by rural Vietnamese. Without this support it would be impossible for the Viet Cong to maintain its grip on the greater part of the South. Military aid is coming from the Communist North, but compared with the two thousand million dollars poured in by the USA over the last 10 years it-would be of the order of only a fraction of a cent for each dollar of American aid.
New York Herald Tribune (Apr. 9. 1963) reports: "The Viet Cong regular forces of about 25.000 and their regional troops of about 50,000 are recruited almost entirely from the villages of S. Vietnam. Some of the leaders have been trained in the North, but they number less than one per cent of the whole. The 'regionals' carry weapons dating from the French war in Indo-China, while the regulars are equipped with captured American arms. In short, the war in S. Vietnam is homegrown."
The methods used by the S. Vietnam American sponsored army against the Viet Cong and those suspected of anti-government tendencies, caused Bertrand Russell to label this war an atrocity. The depths to which USA foreign policy is capable of descending could not be much lower than at present. Americans now feel able to condone barbarities and Inhumanities that rival the worst efforts of the Japanese in S.E. Asia. Napalm jelly gasoline is used against whole villages without warning; USA planes bomb villages suspected of harbouring Viet Cong guerillas: unwanted prisoners are massacred and those retained are tortured during interrogation. The war has been prosecuted in a way that has served only to alienate peasant loyalties.
Of course, our Press continues to suppress the truth. Repeated USA violations of the 1954 Geneva convention have gone unrecorded. Cambodian charges of incursions by S. Vietnam and American forces into Cambodian territory are distorted. Proposals that could hope to end this fruitless war have all the weight of editorial illogicality and absurdity thrown at them. The true nature of the conflict is apparent to few.
It is with this sort of "informed" public in mind that Mr. Holyoake has suggested that NZ involve herself in the South Vietnam war.
R. A. Arms