Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 5. 1965.
Theatre Of War Got A Seat?
Theatre Of War Got A Seat?
Moral condemnation has poured in on the United States since its decision to escalate the war in South Vietnam.
They have broken the 1953 Geneva Convention by sending in troops. Their weapons violate the strict limits set down under the Geneva Protocol of 1925. In bombing villages they have indiscriminately killed guerillas and civilians. All this in defence of a mythical democracy.
Just how does the United States justify its stand? The Johnson Administration claims it is waging a defensive war against external aggression. Therefore it was the Communist infiltrators from Hanoi and China who first broke the Geneva Convention. United States "advisers" were officially invited in to take a protective position in repelling Communism.
Placed in the broad perspective of international politics, United States motives inevitably appear not so altruistic. They are concerned at the rise of China as a third power bloc and its success in courting the underdeveloped countries. United Slates interest lies in forestalling and, if possible, eliminating the rise of consolidated Communism so as to preserve its own power.
It is easy to condemn the United States. They have military might and are ruthlessly using it against a people who technologically are at a tremendous disadvantage. They fight in the name of democracy and in doing so seem to be denying the very basis of their ideal—freedom in choosing the rulers and type of government.
It is also easy to gloss over the role of the enemy they are fighting. United States guilt can be arrived at with little mental effort but this does not make the Vietcong cause any more desirable. Their supporters claim to be fighting a war of national liberation. As with the Americans they are oversimplifying their view and bringing it down to a common propaganda level.
Being reduced to a Communist satellite by the efforts of a zealous revolutionary group cannot be equated with liberation There is no evidence to suggest they have even a majority support of the South Vietnamese behind them. If Communism does win the war, this factor will certainly be irrelevant, but not until then.
Emotions rate high on this issue. Should the United States get out of Vietnam and, if so, on what grounds? As a moral problem the Americans have obviously erred, but then Communist infiltration measures up just as badly. On the instruments of war, both sides have deviated from the "prescribed standards."
Is using phosphorus bombs any less humane than Vietcong tactics of cutting out the tongues of their prisoners of war before releasing them? The United States have killed civilians in bombing areas harbouring guerillas just [unclear: at] the Vietcong have wiped out villages by less sophisticated method when terrorising the rural areas around Saigon.
A silent vigil held at the [unclear: ceno]taph expresses a worthwhile [unclear: senti]ment on war in general, but [unclear: a] the same time a simple one [unclear: by] neglecting to examine the [unclear: issues] Neither side in this war [unclear: i] anxious to negotiate because compromise would be unlikely [unclear: t] [unclear: ablish] their superiority. Neither [unclear: e] can afford to lose face in the [unclear: neral] context of the power blocs [unclear: ey] represent.
This war in effect does nor concern the South Vietnamese except [unclear: a] cruelly personal way. Their [unclear: n]-existent freedom is being [unclear: ght] over by two groups who [unclear: sh] to impose "freedom" of their [unclear: n] peculiar interpretation. This a real world situation of today and only the hard extremes of [unclear: nning] or losing will have any [unclear: aring] on the United States [unclear: licy] of escalation.—P.M.C.