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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 28, No. 7. 1965.

On Past Policy In South Vietnam

On Past Policy In South Vietnam

Professor Kahin, Professor of Government and Director of the South-East Asia Programme. Cornell University, led the opposition to Administration policy. He implicitly questioned both the motives and the wisdom of USA policy in the South-East Asian region.

Of the motives he raised the issue of USA self-interest as opposed to the national self-interest of South-East Asia and he noted, "Our policy-makers have exhibited an inability to appreciate Asian nationalism and inability to work with rather than against this powerful force."

Of the (past) wisdom of USA policy, he added, "since World War II American officials have made such grave errors in policy toward South-East Asia that we have every right to be sceptical about their ability to respond intelligently to the present situation in South Vietnam."

In both the above contexts he elaborated and documented his charges in relation to USA policy toward (then Nationalist) now Communist China. Indonesia, Laos, Burma: in the context of Vietnam, he noted that the pre-1954 alliance of the USA with France was a grave error, and added, "we (USA) temporised with our commitment to national self-determination and backed France in her efforts to establish control over South Vietnam. By supporting her attempt to establish a Vietnamese regime which lacked nationalist support, we helped ensure that Vietnamese patriots would have no real alternative but to rally to the banner of Ho Chi Minh."

Unfortunately few significant comments challenged the above assertions We leave the historical issues by noting the comment Professor W. A. Williams, [unclear: Pr]fessor of History, University of [unclear: Wi] consin, when he noted "that [unclear: th] success of USA foreign policy [unclear: ov] the last 70 years, where such [unclear: Polic] has been successful, changed [unclear: th] reality on which that [unclear: polic] was based. A new outlook needed." In the above context [unclear: h] was referring to the USA policy makers' desire to see South-[unclear: Eas] Asia accept its ideas as to [unclear: Govern]ment and development.

In conclusion: it seems to [unclear: th] writer that the present [unclear: dilemma] in South-East Asia, as [unclear: elsewher] is reducible to the realised [unclear: an] reasonable need for vast social [unclear: an] economic changes. The speed [unclear: a] which these changes are desire is understandable, but often unrealistic.

Are these changes to take [unclear: plac] through evolution, and a maintenance of the present social [unclear: structur] or through revolution, where [unclear: rad]ical changes in the socio-[unclear: politica] structure will be a necessity?

The South-East Asian theatre [unclear: i] clearly, the battleground for [unclear: com]peting solutions to South-[unclear: Eas] Asia's problems. Equally clearly the Western World cannot do [unclear: socio] economically for the non-[unclear: Weste] world what it has done for [unclear: itsel] then perhaps South-East [unclear: Asi] would be better off without [unclear: ou] presence.