Monday, March 19, 2007
The More They Stay The Same
From "What Withdrawal Would Really Mean", Time Magazine, October 24, 1969:
The argument for immediate withdrawal comes in many forms...
In its more reasoned and restrained Version, however, the argument is persuasive. It goes something like this: The U.S. is pledged to leave anyway. It would indeed be useful if, before departing, the U.S. were to ensure a more or less independent South, but that is a hopeless task—the Saigon regime will not be able to stand on its own for many years to come, if ever. Certainly it will not do so while it can rely on the American presence to prop it up. "Vietnamization" is a sham, or at least so poor a bet that it does not justify the continued war effort.
True, it might be useful for the U.S. to delay its departure, or make it gradual, even if at the end of two or three years the Saigon government were to fall, because the delay would cushion the blow to U.S. prestige and would give the U.S. time to shore up its positions elsewhere. But that advantage is not worth the cost—in lives, in money, and in domestic discord. Bitterness at home is likely to grow so severe, if the war is continued even at a relatively low level, that the U.S. system itself is likely to be seriously impaired. Besides, the longer the war lasts, the stronger will be the sentiment for "No More Viet Nams"—a new isolationism that will cripple future U.S. policy in the world...
All things considered, an immediate, unilateral withdrawal of U.S. troops that would leave South Viet Nam to its fate is an inadequate, emotional solution to a complex and tragic problem. What, then, are the alternatives? The harsh truth is that there are few available to President Nixon... [T]he only other plausible course is gradual, orderly withdrawal, accompanied by "Vietnamizing" of the war. The pace of the troop withdrawals so far set by the President should be speeded up. But they would probably have to be spread over two years, with some U.S. logistical support perhaps continuing longer, during which time 1) the Saigon government could be given a chance, however slim, of standing alone, and 2) the U.S. could shore up positions elsewhere in Asia, mostly through economic and diplomatic efforts. This would in fact mean that the U.S. would pull out by a certain time, regardless of the chances of the Saigon regime to survive—although the U.S. would not say so officially.
10,647 American soldiers were killed in action in Viet Nam after this article appeared.
46,880 American soldiers were wounded in action in Viet Nam after this article appeared.