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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 30, No. 11. 1967.

Vietnam issue unclear

Vietnam issue unclear

Vietnam is the most complicated issue in current world politics, and it is the issue that so many pretend to be the simplest. Both hawks and doves are guilty of clouding the issue beyond assessment.

If it could be proved that China's interest in the war were aggressive and expansionist, our commitment would be justified—we have a right to protect our freedom and the freedom of our fellows.

China's diplomatic efforts in Africa involving much expense and talent (both badly needed at home), her diversion of resources into nuclear weaponry instead of to a thirsty economy, and her ideological aims, do suggest expansionist interests.

For the hawks these are sufficient proof. "We ignored Mein Kampf for too long, we can't accord Mao's Thoughts the same foolery."

But the issue is far from this simple. Despite China's assistance to Ho Chi Minh, there is much to suggest the North's struggles to be nationalist in character. So nationalist in fact that China could not hope to dominate her southern neighbour.

The Vietnamese civilisation extends for some thousand years. The two-Vietnams situation is a minute time fraction when seen against this background. It is understandable for there to be an impassioned desire for unity.

Ho did not pander to the Japanese in 1945, he did not allow French domination in the years following, and he is not allowing American domination at the present time. It is most unlikely that he would meekly succumb to Chinese domination in the future.

Now the doves are satisfied. "Let the country unite in terms of its historical identity—as provided for in the Geneva Treaty of 1954."

Such is our present confusion. Some argue in present world politics there are two forces polarised in opposition — communism and free enterprise.

A festering economic gap which promotes so much militarism is neglected and shrugged off as a side issue.

Then there are those who say it's all a matter of nationalism, the imperialist nationalism of America seeks to dominate the nationalism of Asia born of economic necessity.

So many who argue in this vein profess a love of mankind yet maintain the ability to hate the next-door neighbour because he happens to be in the RSA, or the Prime Minister, or anyone who disagrees.

To be intellectually honest we can only conclude there is no clarity. It would be comforting to flee into either camp and pretend there is no confusion. But our personal comfort is no basis on which to determine war or no war.

If we are to be committed to war the issue should be clear.

General Taylor, Sir, we don't want to help you because we can find no clear reason why we should.