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Salient. Victoria University of Wellington Student's Newspaper. Volume 31, Number 6. April 9, 1968

[Letter to Salient from Ross Smith. Volume 31, Number 6. April 9, 1968]

Sir—you slate in your Domino theory editorial that "the real tragedy is just that the policy (of America in Vietnam) has failed." Only three lines before that you stated that that policy "is inspired by misguided self-interest and executed with bumbling atrocity". Surely it is no tragedy when a policy with these as its main characteristics fails. This sounds more like poetic justice to me. Every sane and decent person applauds the fact that it has failed, applauds the fact that for some period a portion of those suffering under that policy will cease to suffer, and applauds the fact that Lyndon Baines Johnson, satisfied with having earned the reputation of the worst and most deceitful U.S. president of this century, has at last heard the cries of the dying and of the growing numbers of protesters.

You also speak absurdly of the results of American victory in Vietnam and suggest that under a stable right-wing regime "a few of the Vietnamese people would have been satisfied and the vast apolitical majority acquiescent". You think that after Diem, after all the outside interference and oppression. after Ky and Thieu, after napalm, after phosphorous and anti-personnel bombs, after seeing homes and childrens' faces reduced to charcoal . . . after seeing "the moral, cultural and economic lifeblood of Vietnam sucked dry" that the vast majority of the people of South Vietnam would be "apolitical" and "acquiescent"?

You then sum up your ignorance by suggesting under a right-wing government of any sort "the real business of living would have gone on". Vietnam has had many right-wing governments and the injustices were so great, the wealth was concentrated in the hands of so few and the majority of the population so poor that revolution was the result.

So basically this part of your editorial says two things; firstly, that the peoples of South Vietnam would accept a right-wing government of some sort after it had won the war, secondly, that people who are being bombarded with the most atrocious war methods in the world, maltreated by the worst political methods in the world, under the worst social conditions in the world do not realise the horror of their condition and they have very few ideas about their future and how it should be conducted.

Its only a humble opinion, but firm convictions on these two things by the South Vietnamese and their determination not to make any compromise on them seem to me to be important reasons for the continuing horror in Vietnam.

Ross Smith

[The basic difference between Mr. Smith and myself is that I believe that the Right acts in good faith. It may well be that there are faults in its policies which doom them to failure.—ed.]