YSF on the Vietnam War, 1964-1966
From 1963 until August 1965, Young Socialist Forum was a small-format (8.5x11) 4-
or 8-page newspaper, published every second month. Its small size (made
necessary by the group’s limited resources) limited its ability to deal at
length with many topics. Nevertheless, YSF devoted considerable
space to Vietnam, even before the emergence of the antiwar movement.
In the Fall of 1965, Young Socialist Forum changed from a small
newspaper format to a 16-page bi-monthly magazine. The new format allowed
longer articles which attempted to explain the nature of the war to the
growing number of radical youth who were coming into contact with the
At the same time, supporters of YSF were putting substantial efforts in
to building a movement against the war. For articles on the movement, see
YSF on the Anti-War Movement
Young Socialist Forum, Summer 1964
Get U.S. Troops Out of Vietnam
By John Riddell
The U.S. government has been filling the headlines with its warnings
that it will risk nuclear war rather than give up its attempt to
"liberate" Vietnam. What Is the American army doing in Vietnam? Early in
June American troops moved into an area of South Vietnam whose inhabitants
were suspected of sympathy with the rebels. The Vancouver Sun
"Armed helicopters poured 3,000 rockets into villages along the
river. They burned to the ground every hut they could find. Sampans
were sunk and bullock carts were smashed. Some 700 women, old men and
children were driven from the area … About 1,000 tons of rice were
destroyed. Thousands of animals were slaughtered or carried off. A 20
mile stretch ... was left scorched and barren."
This was the first incident of the new American "scorched earth"
policy; only a single incident of a war where the U.S. government has
taken on a whole nation, and seems determined to destroy this nation with
all the horrors of Hiroshima and Auschwitz rather than end its
The war in Vietnam has a long history. The Vietnamese first won their
independence in 1945, when they drove out the Japanese and set up an
independent republic. The French army moved in quickly, and seized
control. It took 9 years of fighting before the French were decisively
routed at Dien Bien Phu and forced to negotiate a peace. The resulting
Geneva agreements partitioned the nation provisionally and provided for a
free election within three years to determine the future of the whole
nation. An International control commission, of which Canada is one of
three members, was set up to ensure the withdrawal of all foreign troops
and the enforcement of the Geneva agreements.
This was a substantial victory for the Vietnamese; there was little
doubt that in free elections the nation would have voted to end French
rule and institute some form of socialist government. It was at this
point, however, that the United States intervened. The American government
had refused to sign the peace agreement, and now began to move arms and
personnel into the south. Their puppet-dictatorship in the south refused
to permit the elections, and the war broke out again—this time against
The U.S. has tried just about everything in its war in Vietnam. It
tried to force two thirds of the population into "strategic hamlets"—which
differ from concentration camps only in that inmates are allowed to leave
to work in the fields during the day—under armed guard. Most of the camps
have been destroyed by Viet Cong attacks in union with the villagers
inside. The U.S. brought in helicopters—and the wrecks now litter the
jungles. In the past year they have backed three dictatorships, each as
unpopular as the one before. They have attacked the forests with chemicals
and the villagers, with napalm bombs—60% of "Viet Cong" casualties are now
inflicted by American troops. As it became obvious that the rebels were
winning the war, they threatened to extend it by invading independent
North Vietnam. When this had no effect, they threatened war with China.
These threats were based on charges of foreign intervention which have a
strange ring; as Democratic Senator Wayne Morse has pointed out, the only
foreign troops in Vietnam are the Americans themselves.
The Vietnamese are fighting for their independence and their right to
determine their own future. The U.S. has declared itself ready to plunge
the world into war to prevent this. Where does Canada stand? As a member
of the Geneva commission, Canada is obliged to prevent foreign troops from
entering Vietnam. The only foreign troops in sight are 15,000 Americans.
Has the Canadian government made any protests? New Democratic Party leader
T. C. Douglas has demanded in parliament that Canada dissociate itself
from the American imperialist policy. Canada’s prince of peace, Pearson,
refused to do so. In fact, Canada’s representatives on the Geneva
commission have persistently refused to take a stand against American
Canada must act to stop the war in Vietnam! As a member of the Geneva
commission, Canada must demand withdrawal of American forces, and assert
the right of the Vietnamese to determine their own future!
Young Socialist Forum, February 1965
U.S. Bombing of Vietnam Risks World War
Canada Plays Phony Role
By The Editors
American warplanes have repeatedly bombed North Vietnam. The White
House threatens to continue these acts of war indefinitely. The attacks
are in response to the growing success of the rebels in the Vietnamese
civil war, and their closely approaching victory—not, as the U.S. states,
in "retaliation" for North Vietnamese "instigation" of Viet Cong attacks.
The evidence of mass support for the National Liberation Front (Viet
Cong) is overwhelming. Even the most biased observers report that villages
considered "safe" by the South Vietnam government continually turn out to
be full of the Viet Cong and their supporters, that government troops and
their American "advisors" continually complain that they can’t tell the
ordinary peasants from the rebels, that rebel fighters display tremendous
courage in the face of murderous American military equipment, that the
government troops are unwilling to fight the rebels, and that the Viet
Cong control over 80% of the country.
The rebels represent land reform and socialism: an end to the rampant
starvation and squalor, rapid industrialization, and social progress. The
Khanh dictatorship cannot grant any of these. And no amount of bombing of
North Vietnam can step the struggle so firmly rooted in the south.
The Canadian government is deeply involved in the situation: It has
contributed equipment and money to the corrupt South Vietnamese
dictatorship. As a member of the International Control Commission, it is
committed to supervising the Geneva 1954 accord, which states that there
are to be no foreign armed forces in South Vietnam and no foreign
intervention in the affairs of the Southeast Asian nations. Yet it has
blatantly closed its eyes to the American military buildup in South
Vietnam, and the vicious war being conducted there entirely on the
initiative of the Western powers. Nor has it said a single word of protest
against the American bombings of the neighboring nations of Cambodia,
Laos, and North Vietnam—whose sovereignty the ICC is also supposed to be
On Feb. 10, Pearson attempted to whitewash the American action. He
warned against criticizing the bombings; terming them "retaliatory or
deterrent reactions against Communist Viet Cong attacks." And he spoke of
the danger of Chinese domination of the area. This supposed danger seems a
bit ludicrous when one recalls that the only foreign troops in all
Indochina are American! And that the South Vietnamese people support the
Young people everywhere must protest both the American actions and the
Canadian government’s complicity. Already numerous student groups have
voiced their opposition; NDY clubs have demonstrated on the issue. Yet the
NDP is silent—no prominent NDPer has clearly stated opposition. NDYers
across the country must call on the party to take a stand—American
withdrawal from Vietnam, and exposure of the role of the Canadian
Young Socialist Forum, Early Summer 1965
Vietnam Struggle: Nuclear War Next?
by Art Young
The deepening crisis over Vietnam continues to: bring the world closer
and closer to the nuclear brink. The pretext of "retaliation" has now been
dropped and bombings of North Vietnam are occurring on a round-the-clock
basis. There are more than 40,000 U.S. troops in South Vietnam—more than
twice the strength of four months ago. Fiendish new weapons are now being
tried out: gas, firestorms, rifles which have such impact they tear off
entire limbs, and bombs which scatter razor sharp metal over wide areas.
There is increasing talk of further escalation—the bombing of Hanoi, an
attack on China; and the use of nuclear weapons.
All this is being done very carefully. Every new step is calculated,
its effectiveness and the reactions to it are noted, and the next step
planned. The White House strategists are estimating just what they can get
away with, how many people they can slaughter safely, how close they can
come to total nuclear annihilation. All in a vain attempt to intimidate
the Vietnamese people.
But events have proven that the Vietnamese will not slacken their
struggle. They are determined to overthrow the American puppet regimes, to
choose their own destiny, to begin the modernization of their nation, They
see the industrialization and land reform which have taken place in North
Vietnam—and in the south, areas under Viet Cong control have begun to
institute land reform.
These heroic revolutionaries, winning their arms from the American
forces, struggling against the most fiendish products of modern
technology, are not giving up. On the contrary, all reports show that they
have met the U.S. military buildup with a firmer determination to conquer,
with new offensives.
The U.S. calculates that China will not intervene to aid its neighbour
and ally, North Vietnam, while it is being laid waste. That is far from
certain. It hopes that China will remain passive in the face of the
mounting American military buildup in South Vietnam. But that buildup is a
direct military threat to the Chinese people. For there is no guarantee
that Johnson will not decide to further escalate the war, since the
present level of escalation has not paralyzed the Vietnamese revolution.
Circles in the U.S., the same people who were labeled crackpots six months
ago when they called for bombing of North Vietnam, are now demanding an
attack on China.
But any attack on China would have disastrous consequences. No American
government has ever embarked on a war with so much criticism in its own
country as Johnson now faces. The Chinese army is the strongest anywhere
in Asia, and it is backed up by a well-trained militia which numbers in
the tens of millions. It is more than a match for any American land army.
The Russians would almost certainly be forced to come to the aid of their
ally, and with that action, the world would have more than one foot in a
There can be no guarantee of peace while the U.S. continues to hoist
the spectre of total annihilation over any struggle for social betterment.
That spectre will not stop the colonial revolution, for it is far better
to die struggling for a better life than to die of starvation
It is our task to support the Vietnamese struggle, to stop the drive to
nuclear war. We must call for the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from
Vietnam. If the Viet Cong wish to negotiate that is up to them. But
clearly the Americans have no right to maintain troops there.
The time for action is now. If 20,000 American students can march on
Washington to end the Vietnam war, surely Canadian youth can do no less.
Young Socialist Forum, Summer 1965
Editorial: U.S. Must Withdraw Troops
Month after month, the Americans continue their murderous war in
Vietnam. The deadly bombings of North Vietnam have continued, aiming at
targets closer and closer to the Chinese border. Meanwhile American combat
troops have moved into direct attack in the South, leading in wholesale
slaughter of the civilian population. And in courageous defiance of the
whole military might of American imperialism, the National Liberation
Front still moves forward, expanding the territories under its control.
The National Liberation Front (the "Viet Cong") is now the only viable
government in the south, ruling over the larger part of the country,
collecting the taxes and exercising the functions of a government, while
carrying out some of the basic reforms necessary for social progress.
French and American colonialists have never granted the Vietnamese the
luxury of "free elections." Yet the Vietnamese have voted just the same,
giving their lives by the millions in a twenty-year war of liberation to
put in power a government of their choice.
It is to overthrow this government that the Americans bomb closer and
closer to the Chinese border, risking nuclear war to perpetuate their rule
and exploitation over the peoples of S.E. Asia.
The answer to the Vietnamese war will not be found in big-power
negotiations to impose some compromise on the unwilling Vietnamese. Nor
will it be found in armed intervention by the UN or any other of the smoke
screens used by American imperialism to cover violations of national
sovereignty. The only solution can be the withdrawal of the U.S. armed
forces, to leave the Vietnamese free to determine their own future.
Young Socialist Forum, March-April 1966
By David Lynne [Ian Angus]
The Johnson Administration explains the war in Vietnam very simply: it
is a war of aggression conducted by North Vietnam and China against the
people of the South.
The growth of the anti-war movement in the United States certainly
indicates that a large number of people do not accept this statement. What
has made Vietnam the biggest issue in today’s world of big issues? Why is
there a war in Vietnam?
From 1945 to 1954 the Vietnamese fought the French, who controlled the
country as part of the disintegrating French Union. In 1954 they delivered
a crushing blow to the French Army, routing them at the Battle of
Dienbienphu. The French, realizing they could not win the war, and needing
the troops to fight the Algerian Revolution, went to the conference table.
The result of the negotiations, the "Geneva Accords", clearly provided the
a) Vietnam would be divided into two military zones, but this was in
no way a permanent political division. (article 1)
b) Pending unification, the Vietminh (a coalition of anti-French
forces headed by the Indochinese Communist Party) would rule in the
North and the French Union Forces in the South. (14a)
c) No foreign troops were allowed in Vietnam. (16)
d) No foreign military aid was allowed. (17)
e) No foreign military bases were allowed. (19)
f) Neither side was to take reprisals against those who had supported
the other side. (14c)
g) Reunification would follow national elections in 1956 to determine
who would rule a united Vietnam. (Final Declaration, section 7.)
The United States did not sign the Accords, but declared on July 21,
1954, the day they were signed, that they would "refrain from the threat
or the use of force" to disturb the agreements, and would "view any
renewal of the aggression ... with grave concern."
Throughout the war, the United States had backed the French. John
Foster Dulles had offered the French nuclear weapons (New York Times,
June 3, 1954). In a press conference on June 10, 1954, Pierre
Mendes-France, later to become Premier of France, revealed:
"The United States intervention was to have taken place on the
request of France, April 28. The warships carrying atomic aviation
material were loaded and on route. President Eisenhower was to have
asked Congress April 26 for authorization. Luckily the project of U.S.
intervention was set aside by Britain and public opinion in the U.S."
Now that the French were out, the United States set about to replace
them. They relaced Bao Dai, a French puppet ruler, with American-educated
Ngo Dinh Diem, through elections so fraudulent that they hardly deserve
the name. Hardly was the ink dry on the Accords than the U.S. began
"It is no secret that we are intervening at almost every level on
behalf of the existing government in the South... the elections will
never be held." (New York Times, Aug. 22, 1955)
Diem’s government was given massive military and technical aid.
Diem began immediately on a campaign of terror and repression of the
Vietnamese peasantry, particularly of Vietminh partisans. Thousands of
people were arbitrarily arrested, imprisoned, tortured, executed. In
direct violation of article 14c of the Accords, Diem was attempting to
wipe out any spark of resistance left after decades of fighting.
"Diem’s army and police have been notorious for their activities in
the villages—widespread arrest and imprisonment without evidence and
without trial of persons suspected of being Communists or ‘enemies of
the state’ ... about 14,000 persons were arrested in central Annam alone
to the time of the March 1956 elections. Since then the process ...
increased rather than diminished." (National Review, Nov. 25,
The International Control Commission, set up by the Geneva Conference
to supervise the carrying out of the Accords, and composed of Canada,
Poland and India, was only able to investigate a few of the complaints
made against the Diem government. It was hampered by that regime at every
turn. Yet in its fourth report it stated:
"In cases where enquiries were possible, we have verified 319 cases
involving the loss of human lives.... The Commission was unable to
determine that, apart from the cases cited, there have not been other
reprisals and discriminations."
In the North, where it was relatively unhampered, the Commission found
no evidence of violation of this article.
Diem instituted a "Land Reform" project, which had the effect of
forcing the peasants to give up the land distributed during the war
against the French. They were then required to pay ten years back rent to
their absentee landlords!
The Geneva Accords were never put into effect. On one hand the United
States began pumping aid to the Saigon government from the beginning,
endorsing and encouraging its violations of the Accords. On the other
hand, and this is one of the most important aspects of the war, the
peasants refused to go along with the consequences of the "compromise"
settlement, and because of this they came into conflict with both the
Vietminh and the Diem regime.
The Vietnamese had fought the French army and won. They had seized land
from oppressive landlords and were cultivating it. Suddenly they were told
that an agreement between their "leaders" and their enemies, made
thousands of miles away, made them submit to the very forces they had
The peasants had no part in formulating the Geneva Accords. They
probably could not have read them had they seen them. If asked, they would
probably have rejected them: in 1945 they had seen an "agreement" between
their leaders and the British pave the way for French reinvasion.
Throughout Vietnam, the peasants, particularly the mountain tribes,
refused to submit to the Diem government. In the first years after 1954,
Diem was able to collect taxes in only three-quarters of the villages of
Sao Nam, now a member of the National Liberation Front, was one of the
members of the Vietminh who took the "line" of accepting Diem’s rule to
the mountain tribes. He described to Wilfred Burchett, an Australian
journalist who has spent the last few years in Southeast Asia, his
experience in taking the line to the Kor, a mountain tribe. The ninety
year old chief of the 4,700-member tribe told Sao Nam:
"Never do our people move without a battle. It would be to insult the
graves of our ancestors. And you and your friends who were such brave
warriors against the French, why do you not join us and fight together
again? Either we fight together or we are struck down together like
buffalo tied to a tree."
After the Vietminh representative had again argued that the Kor should
move, not attempt to resist Diem’s army, the old man summed up the
feelings of many Vietnamese peasants of this time.
"Before you were real warriors. We fought as one. Now we see you are
no longer resistance fighters. It you were, you would support us and not
ask us to run away." (Wilfred Burchett, Vietnam: Inside Story of the
Guerilla War, International Publishers, pp. 130-31).
The Kor eventually moved, but not before decimating the local Diem Army
garrison, seizing their weapons, and successfully avoiding the Diemist
division sent to retaliate. Using home-made weapons and traps, they kept
the division from even getting near their village. After they moved,
sixty-five operations were carried out against the Kor by the Saigon
regime, with no effect.
This type of action took place all over Vietnam. In the village of Nong
Con, inhabited by the Sedang minority, barely out of the Stone Age, the
people implemented the economic planning they had heard about on Radio
Hanoi, just as if the Diem government did not exist.
The people of South Vietnam needed no "outside agitators" to make them
rebel. No conspiracy of communists in North or South Vietnam created the
rebellion. In fact, it began in spite of the Vietnamese Communists, who
wished to stick to "legal" methods of struggle.
"As for the ‘line’, this was set by our leadership the moment the
Geneva Ceasefire Agreements were signed for the whole of Vietnam.
Absolute strict respect for the Geneva Agreements was spelt out into
detailed instructions to observe discipline; not to go beyond the bounds
of legal, political struggle .... It cost us the lives of many of our
finest comrades in the Period 1954-59." (Quyet Thanh, a NLF regimental
commander, to Wilfred Burchett - Op. cit., p. 113)
Before the National Liberation Front (NLF—the so-called "Vietcong") was
founded in December, 1960, there were over 10,000 independent, organized
rebel formations in South Vietnam.
The Vietnamese successfully defeated the Japanese occupation army in
1945, only to have French rule, which began in 1884, re-established. It
took nine years of hard fighting to drive the French out, and then the
Americans came. With such a history of resistance to oppression, the
Vietnamese needed no encouragement to rebel. Ignoring their leaders, they
took arms against the Diem government.
In fact, far from the peasants being bludgeoned into rebellion by
Communists, in a very real sense, the leadership entered the struggle
almost unwillingly, as a result of popular pressure. They contributed
organization and coordination, but the peasants began the war and are
fighting it. Despite the fact that North and South Vietnam are legally one
country, and that North Vietnam would have every moral justification for
aiding the Southern rebellion, U.S. charges of North Vietnamese
infiltration remain at best unproven.
As Carl Oglesby said at, the Nov. 27 March on Washington:
"Can we understand why the Negroes of Watts rebelled? Then why do we
need a devil-theory for the rebellion of the South Vietnamese?"
No leadership can impose a revolution where the people do not want it.
No guerilla army can last for long without popular support. These are
accepted facts of life in the colonial world. Not all the lies and
hypocrisies of Johnson and the Pentagon can deny them.
"I have never talked or corresponded with a
single person knowledgeable in Indo-Chinese affairs who did not
agree that had elections been held at the time of the fighting,
possibly 80% of the population would have voted for the Communist Ho
Chi Minh as their leader...."—Dwight
D. Eisenhower, Mandate For Change
"American officers state frankly that they are
learning as much as they teach. South Vietnam is the only part of
the world where the Pentagon’s training manuals can be put to the
test, under conditions of real warfare. In this tropical Salisbury
Plain new techniques are being developed of ‘counter-insurgency’."—London
Times, Jan. 21, 1963
"I don’t think we are buying Vietnamese
stability in the long run out of the present operation. What we are
buying is an example—for Latin American and other guerrilla-prone
areas. What we are really doing in Vietnam is killing the cause of
‘wars of liberation’."—Bernard Fall,
lecturer on guerrilla warfare at the Army War College, in Ramparts
Magazine in December.
"Senator Wayne Morse (D.-Ore.) has charged the
U.S. with trying to build up the war in South Vietnam to the point
‘where they will have an alibi and on excuse to bomb nuclear
installations in Red China.’"—Associated
Press, Feb. 24, 1965
"Everything that has happened in Southeast Asia
since Dien Bien Phu reflects Washington’s determination to try to
bring about the downfall of the Peking regime."—Hugh
Deane, former reporter in China, Japan, and elsewhere in Asia, in
"The War in Vietnam"
"The de facto integration of South Vietnam
within the American defense structure implied that the region ought
to be secure, and hence, purged of anything which might, however
remotely, serve the Red cause."
—Philippe Devillers, leading French expert on Southeast Asia in
China Quarterly, Jan.-Mar., 1962
"Their aim in Vietnam is really much simpler
than this implies. It is to safeguard what they take to be American
interests around the world against revolution or revolutionary
change, which they always call Communism—as if that were that. In
the case of Vietnam, this interest is, first, the principle that
revolution shall not be tolerated anywhere, and second, that South
Vietnam shall never sell its rice to China—or even to North
Vietnam." —Carl Oglesby, President
of Students for a Democratic Society, at the March on Washington,
Nov. 27, 1965
Young Socialist Forum, July-August 1966
The Stakes in Vietnam
by John Wilson
To effectively oppose the war in Vietnam, it is critically important to
attempt to fully understand the global implications of this bloody
conflagration. For Johnson’s genocidal war on the Vietnamese people
continues to escalate despite rising opposition the world over. Even as
tens of thousands of anti-Ky demonstrators converged in the streets of
Hue, Danang and Saigon itself, Defence Secretary McNamara, speaking to the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee April 20, declared that the U.S. is
spending 33 million dollars a day on the war, compared to the figure of 2
million a day previously announced. Further, it has projected that at the
present rate of escalation, there will be 400,000 American troops in
Vietnam by the end of this year.
Is Vietnam really so important to the ruling circles of the U.S.? How
did the United States, the wealthiest and most powerful country in the
world, come to immerse itself in a dirty and despicable adventure that
could culminate in nuclear disaster?
President Johnson’s personal egomania is hardly a sufficient
explanation, even if an instructive commentary on the nature of the social
system which selects such a figure as its leading spokesman.
The fact is that Johnson’s policy traces back to the days of Roosevelt,
a policy advanced by Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy before it was
inherited by the present incumbent of the White House. In the specific
case of Vietnam, Johnson is simply carrying out a policy, initiated by
Eisenhower and extended by Kennedy, of armed intervention to crush the
The U.S.A. has been intervening for decades to suppress foreign
revolutionary movements. At the close of World War II, even before the end
of the alliance with the USSR and commencement of the cold war, the
general framework for this was openly stated by General George C. Marshall
in his 1945 Biennial Report to the secretary of War. In it, he completely
wrote off the possibility of peace for decades, called for the creation of
a massive military machine based on atomic weapons, the construction of a
world network of military bases and demanded the Congress "establish for
the generations to come, a national military policy." Within months, the
American military machine was at work combating revolutions in Greece and
the Philippines, and since that time we have seen in Korea, Guatemala,
Lebanon, Cuba and elsewhere, a long chain of aggression against left-wing
governments and revolutionary movements. The criminal intervention in the
Dominican Republic and the war in Vietnam are in fact a continuation of a
It is a policy of policing the world in the interests of international
capitalism, more particularly in the interests of that tiny minority of
monumentally wealthy families who dominate the government of the United
Even a cursory examination of the course followed by the Johnson
administration in Vietnam demonstrates this to be the case, and clearly
illuminates the true nature and perspectives of American foreign policy.
It is worthwhile to recall how the cold-bloodedly calculated
step-by-step escalation of the war has proceeded. This escalation, it
should be noted, was initiated by Johnson only two months after his
landslide victory over Goldwater on the basis that he was a sane man of
peace as opposed to the warlike Senator from Arizona.
At first, the bombings of North Vietnam were presented as "reprisals".
The "reprisals" were then carried forward until they became "routine."
Simultaneously, a change in the official line of U.S. involvement in the
war took place. Instead of "advisers" to the armed forces of the puppet
South Vietnamese regime, U.S. personnel became openly declared direct
participants. In line with this, the numbers of U.S. troops were
enormously extended until the conflict in its scope was on a par with that
of the Korean war. Today American militarists speculate openly about
bombing China’s nuclear installations and have conducted flagrant
provocations against China—in addition to their "normal" operations:
day-by-day espionage flights in Chinese airspace, constant harassment of
Chinese coastal waters by the Seventh Fleet, and maintenance of an armed
fortress on the imprisoned island of Taiwan.
It was clear at the start that the escalation of the war in Vietnam
involved far more than an attempt at bloody suppression of the struggle of
the Vietnamese for political and economic freedom, for profits from
American investments in Vietnam will never pay for the gigantic war
expenditure. Vietnam is in fact an integral part of the global strategy of
The war in Vietnam signifies a direct threat to every colonial people
seeking self-determination that, should they dare to rebel, their struggle
will be drowned in blood. If this were not clear enough in Vietnam itself,
it was dramatically underscored when, in the very process of increasing
U.S. involvement in the civil war in Vietnam, Johnson sent in 30,000
troops to smash the rebellion against Trujillo’s successors in the
The bombing of North Vietnam marks the first time since Korea that the
U.S. has launched open military attack on a workers state. This aggression
against the Democratic Republic of Vietnam involves not only the defence
of that country but of China and the Soviet Union as well. This is
precisely where the threat of a nuclear war is posed in the current
The threat of a nuclear confrontation is by no means as remote as many
would like to believe. The calculated, step-by-step escalation of the war
can have only two purposes:
1. to probe and prepare "public opinion" at home, and
2. to see how far the provocations can be carried before they bring
forth a sharp response militarily by China and the Soviet Union.
To date, Johnson’s strategists have been emboldened by the shocking
hesitancy and virtual paralysis of the Soviet leadership and its failure
to respond in any but the most token fashion to North Vietnam’s military
needs. And while the Chinese leadership have made many correct
observations and militant statements with regard to the struggle in
Vietnam, they have failed to match the words with deeds, albeit they do
not possess a fraction of the Soviet Union’s resources. They have
consistently opposed and blocked a united front of workers’ states against
the war. The way is clearly open for a dangerous miscalculation on the
part of the U.S. government. Can the Soviet Union, with its nuclear
arsenal, stand by if China is attacked? It does not require a long memory
to recall how close such an attack came during the war in Korea.
As well, the ruling class of the United States is caught in a bind in
Vietnam. Despite the enormous influx of troops and massive bombing
operations they, confronted with the remarkable determination and tenacity
of the Vietnamese people, have failed to even come close to their
objective of crushing the revolutionary forces. In fact, as this article
is being written, open street fighting is taking place in the streets of
the main cities against the regime of their hated puppet, Premier Ky.
Wildly exaggerated press reports left aside, the losses suffered by the
National Liberation Front must be considerable, yet we have it on the
testimony of the U.S. itself that the NLF’s strength has increased
An attack on China would be entirely within the context of the long
range aims of U.S. foreign policy. Ever since before the doctrine of "cold
war" was formally ratified, the U.S. has aimed at not only the
"containment," but also the "rollback" of "communism" throughout the
world. Translated from the State department’s political jargon, this means
not only to hold on their enormous exploitative investments throughout the
colonial areas, but, at an advantageous juncture, an attempt to crush and
reconquer those states which have left the capitalist orbit and have
established planned and nationalized economies.
This perspective, carrying with it the threat of atomic destruction, is
not as irrational as it would appear on the surface. War is an integral
feature of capitalism, an inevitable outgrowth of its expansionist
character. Capitalism must constantly expand into new areas and markets
not only in order to grow, but ultimately, simply in order to survive. The
first and second world wars were, essentially, wars over markets and
colonial possessions. Since the end of World War II, the areas available
for imperialist expansion have become successively smaller in number,
thanks to the wave of revolutionary struggle sweeping the colonial areas.
The Chinese revolution, in particular, not only removed a huge and
virtually untapped area from the grasping hands of the imperialists, but
by its advances in economic growth became a strong pole of attraction and
inspiration for oppressed colonial peoples everywhere.
Despite its concerted efforts at smashing the colonial revolution,
world imperialism headed by the U.S. has failed to decisively stem the
tide, let alone reverse it. But it has not stopped its attempts to do so
with all the horrendous means at its disposal.
In the final analysis, only socialist transformations in the advanced
capitalist countries of the west will end this standing threat not only to
the peace of the world, but to the continued existence of civilization.
But the question most immediately on the order of the day, not only for
socialists but all opponents of the war, is how to effectively oppose it.
The continued growth of the anti-war movement in the United States
itself is one of the most powerful pressures against continuation and
escalation of the war. The Vietnam war already qualifies as by far the
most unpopular in U.S. history, with a majority now opposed to Johnson’s
policies. The mobilization of that majority could bring a withdrawal of
American troops and it is essential that the American anti-war movement be
given every encouragement and support internationally. Leaders of the
American anti-war movement have themselves described the importance of
such international support. In this context, the building; of the anti-war
movement in Canada takes on vital importance in the fight to end the war.