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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 29, No. 2. 1966.

Humphrey viewpoint — U.S. Vice-President Speaks On Vietnam

Humphrey viewpoint
U.S. Vice-President Speaks On Vietnam

"We are not there to impose on South Vietnam the very forces destroying her," said Hubert Humphrey to a press conference at Parliament.

He was shooting down senator Robert Kennedys thesis, Kennedy announced the day before that a chance for peace in Vietnam lay in a popular coalition government including representation for the Vietcong.

"History demonstrates that a popular front government does not bring about a settlement likely to build up the continuity and stability of a democratic government" Humphrey declared.

"It would either be paralysed by conflict within, or taken over from within." He said it was similar to having an arsonist in the fire department.

The Vice-President considered that among the Vietcong there may be some nationalists. But they are misguided and do not see the Vietcong as a hard-core Communist instrument of terror.


Just what was behind Kennedy's suggestion politically was not entered into. The barrage of questions relevant to it placed Humphrey in an awkward position. Placed at the other end of the world and clearly representing the United States Administration in the Asiatic region, the Vice-President had no directive to work from. He left the State Department room to manoeuvre by saying that Kennedy's statement contained only capsuled reports.

Humphrey emphasized that New Zealand would be, and has been, consulted at every phase of the war since being committed. Asked why we were not invited to participate in the Honolulu Conference he had to change his line.

A preliminary

"The conference was just a preliminary" he said. Merely an opportunity for the United States Administration and top military personnel to meet with the leaders of South Vietnam. "It was most important for the United States." (and as a corollary unimportant for New Zealand.)

The conference turned out to be a milestone in policy changes with emphases shifted from the military to social solutions. Following a renowned historical figure the United States is now advocating social revolution. Because of the publicity accorded the meeting, Humphrey was despatched to Australia and New Zealand to soothe the ruffled feelings of the uninvited and unadvised.

The Vice-President expressed deep appreciation tor the loyal support of the New Zealand Government. It was "showing the same kind of courage as our good friend Wilson of the United Kingdom."

"New Zealand exemplifies social democracy at its best" said Hubert Humphrey.

Outside Parliament banners flapped in the wind, while those holding a dissenters' vigil waited for the Vice-president to emerge.