Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 36, No 11 May 30th, 1973
Don & Peter Franks Reply
Don & Peter Franks Reply
As members of the Socialist Action League, the Young Socialists or the Wellington Mobilisation Committee (all hats which George Fyson has worn at one time or the other) are notoriously prone to screaming "distortion" every time they are criticised, it is pleasing to see that George Fyson has "set the record straight as to the real position of the Trotskyist movement" on Vietnam.
There are a number of points we can agree with in George's article as he appears to have picked up a number of comments made by the Vietnamese delegation in Sydney, and reported in Salient's 'Indochina Today' supplement. We look forward to rereading these comments in future issues of Socialist Action.
The basic failing in George's analysis is the absence of any consideration of the Vietnamese liberation movement's policies and views on the development of their struggle.
As has been made clear in articles and interviews in three of the ten issues of Salient this year the Vietnamese regard the Paris Peace Agreement as a great victory in their struggle because it means the withdrawal of U.S. combat troops from Vietnam. Even George recognises this in point 2 of his article.
What George does not understand, or admit, is that the Vietnamese were prepared to make a concession on Thieu in order to get U.S. military with drawl. The other concessions George talks about are the product of his misunderstanding of the Peace Agreement. The National Council of National Reconciliation and Concord provided for under article 12 of the Peace Agreement will exercise exactly the same functions as a coalition government. The agreement also provides for the cutoff of all U.S. support to Saigon, and it is not the Vietnamese liberation movement's mistake that Nixon has flagrantly violated the agreement by continuing to aid Thieu.
George Fyson, his friends in the Trotskyite movement and their mentors like I.F. Stone fail to understand that the Paris Agreement basically incorporates the Vietnamese liberation movement's own political programme. All the major points of the P.R.G.'s Seven-point Peace Proposals of July 1971 are in the agreement, and many of the fundamental provisions of the agreement can be traced back as far as the D.R.V.'s peace proposals of April 1965 and the N.F.L.'s ten point political programme of December 1960. At the time these different proposals were made they were rejected by the American Government spokesmen as being "tantamount to defeat"!As Wilfred Burchelt put it:"What is embodied in the Agreement is a logical development of negotiating positions going back to April 1965".(Salient. April 4, 1973.)
The question that George hyson's article provokes is why he and his friends pay so little attention to what the Vietnamese say about the Peace Agreement, and their struggle against U.S. aggression. The answer is not found in George's article, but was provided by Keith Locke at the Y.S. conference. Locke denounced the Vietnamese strategy for their struggle, and even suggested that it would help the Americans!
Briefly, the P.R.G.'s strategy is to build the broadest possible coalition of patriotic forces in order to develop national unity in South Vietnam. Even though he is receiving massive military aid from the United Stales President Thieu is recruiting support for the P.R.G. every time he violates the ceasefire militarily, or oppresses the people under his control. Once national unity has been established and the Americans and their puppets have been defeated the Vietnamese people will reunify their country by peaceful means, and go on to consolidate the socialist revolution throughout Vietnam. This is the strategy that Keith Locke, George Fyson and the Trotskyist movement think is helping the Americans.
In point 4 of his article George Fyson accuses the Chinese and Russians of failing to give enough aid to the Vietnamese and raves on about the way the Chinese and Russians apparently forced the Vietnamese to make concessions to the Americans.
As far as the Chinese are concerned George's allegations are just not true. When he was in New Zealand Wilfred Burchett mentioned that, immediately after the Nixon visit to Peking, Chou En-Lai flew to Hanoi for discussion with the Political Bureau of the Lao Dong Party and offered substantially increased military aid. In Febuary—March 1971, at the height of the fighting in Laos, the U.S. were making particularly threatening noises about nuclear weapons etc. The Chinese response was very swift. Chou En-Lai flew to Hanoi with all the top military leaders of the Chinese state and made it very clear in public statements that the Chinese were prepared to use nuclear weapons in the event of an American nuclear attack on Vietnam.
Futher more Burchett reported from Hanoi in the Guardian of February 28 this year that there had been a substantial increase in Chinese military aid to Vietnam since his last visit two years previously. He also quoted North Vietnamese military personnel who pointed out the great value of Chinese and Soviet military equipment in destroying B-52s and Fills. Speaking about Chinese assistance to the Cambodia national liberation struggle Prince Sihanouk has written: "No resistance movement could ever dream of having such conditions as have been placed unconditionally at our disposal by the Chinese leadership to live, to work and to fight". ("My War with the C.I.A.", Penguin, p.214)
As far as the Russians are concerned George Fyson is correct in pointing out that the Soviet Union has given far more aid to the Egyptians than to the Vietnamese. However during the bombing raids over Hanoi in December last year Soviet SAM missiles, modified by the North Vietnamese, proved particularly efficient in shooting down American B52s. If the raids had gone on much longer the U.S. would have lost its operational B52 force. In any case Fyon's attacks on the Chinese and Russians for 'failing to give enough aid to the Vietnamese' sound very hypocritical when one remembers that that the Socialist Action League has always opposed New Zealanders sending medical aid to Vietnam, and in fact united with the right-wing groups on this campus in an effort to prevent a donation from being made to the Vietnam Aid Appeal.
George Fyson offers no proof for his assertions that the Chinese and Russians forced the Vietnamese to make concessions to the Americans. If he had any clues at all about the history of the D.R.V. and the P.R.G. he would have realised that the Vietnamese have always maintained a position of complete independence from domination by either Peking or Moscow. George may be interested in an article by Ross Terril in the Review, Noevember 27 —December 2, 1971. Terril reported the Chinese leaders had told him that they didn't believe they could force anything on the Vietnamese, even if they wanted to. The Chinese then went on to point out that they had always believed there were two basic requirements for any people's war — independence and self-reliance.
It is an indication of the bankruptcy of George Fyson's politics that he should have ended his 'analysis' of the Vietnam situation with a smear on Stalin and the French Communist Parly.
Typically George offers no proof that the French Communist Party acted on Stalin's "behest" after the Second World War. If he knew his history as well as his rhetoric George would have realised that Stalin set up the Com in form in 1948 partly to counter what he thought were dangerous revisionist trends in the French and Italian Communist Parties.
In fact the French Communist Party did not "sign the orders" for the French military invasion of Indochina in 1947. George may be interested in the following comments by the right-wing British writer Brian Crozier in reply to a similar allegation by Paul Johnson in an article in the New Statesman. Crozier writes:
"Actually, the French Communist Party, which was then in the coalition Government that followed General de Gaulle's departure in 1946, fought every inch of the way against the French decision to fight Ho Chi Minh. On March 19, 1947, the Party's Central Committee denounced the allocation of funds for 'the war against Vietnam'. The day before, the Communist Defence Minister Billoux, had remained seated when his colleagues rose in response to a tribute from the Socialist Premier, Ramadier, to the French Expeditionary Forces; and the Parliamentary Party had abstained from the vote of confidence called by Ramadier. Not long afterwards the Communists were out of government. Let's face it, the Socialists did it alone". (New Statesman. May 26 1972)
In conclusion we believe that the antiwar movement should aim to support the Vietnamese in their continuing struggle, rather than placing its hopes in the faulty analysis of the international Trotskyist movement. As Michael Law pointed out in last week's Salient "the major aim of the New Zealand antiwar movement at present should be to demand that the United States Government, the Saigon regime and the New Zealand Government strictly implement all the provisions of the Paris Peace Agreement on Vietnam". By doing this we will be helping to provide the assistance the Vietnamese have requested of us.