A Viet Nam Reappraisal

THE PERSONAL HISTORY OF ONE MAN'S VIEW AND HOW IT EVOLVED

VIET Nam remains unquestionably the transcendent problem that confronts our nation. Though the escalation has ceased, we seem to be no closer to finding our way out of this infinitely complex difficulty. The confidence of the past has become the frustration of the present. Predictions of progress and of military success, made so often by so many, have proved to be illusory as the fighting and the dying continue at a tragic rate. Within our country, the dialogue quickens and the debate sharpens. There is a growing impatience among our people, and questions regarding the war and our participation in it are being asked with increasing vehemence.

Many individuals these past years have sought to make some contribution toward finding the answers that have been so elusive. It is with this hope in mind that I present herewith the case history of one man's attitude toward Viet Nam, and the various stages of thought he experienced as he plodded painfully from one point of view to another, and another, until he arrived at the unshakable opinion he possesses today.

Views on Viet Nam have become increasingly polarized as the war has gone on without visible progress toward the traditional American military triumph. There remain some who insist that we were right to intervene militarily and, because we were right, we have no choice but to press on until the enemy knuckles under and concedes defeat. At the other extreme, and in increasing numbers, there are those who maintain that the present unsatisfactory situation proves that our Viet Nam policy has been wrong from the very beginning. There are even those who suggest that our problems in Viet Nam cast doubt on the entire course of American foreign policy since World War II. Both schools share a common and, as I see it, an erroneous concept. They both would make military victory the ultimate test of the propriety of our participation in the conflict in Southeast Asia.

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