Courtesy Reuters


It seems more and more likely that the logic of the situation in Viet Nam will, within the next several months, push the United States into an invasion of North Viet Nam. The vast increase in both American manpower and firepower since 1965 has resulted in heavy casualties for the communist side, but neither the Viet Cong nor the North Vietnamese are about to collapse. On the contrary, as their recent offensive against the cities so dramatically demonstrated, they have the capacity to strike back almost anywhere, provided they have time for the necessary preparations. There is no convincing evidence that the recent offensive was a "desperate last gasp" or that the Viet Cong and North Viet Nam could not continue to take the present rate of casualties for years.

The bombing of North Viet Nam and the infiltration routes has not prevented the enemy from increasing both the tempo of the war and the level of violence. The pressures on Washington to do more about this, by authorizing "hot pursuit" raids into Laos, Cambodia and across the DMZ, are already almost overwhelming. Such raids, however, will in all probability also fail to prevent still further increases. If so, the United States will discover that communism cannot be destroyed as a political force in South Viet Nam, which is the present American objective, without also destroying communism in North Viet Nam. The United States must then either modify its objectives or invade the North, and of the two an invasion seems more likely.

But it is doubtful that an invasion will work. There are 400,000 troops in reserve in North Viet Nam, and Hanoi, certainly, will fight to the end. The terrain is no more favorable, and the wider theater will magnify the logistical problems. In addition, the probability of a Chinese intervention will be high, and, if the circumstances develop in certain ways, the Soviets might also intervene. If the Pueblo incident demonstrates nothing else, it indicates that the North Koreans might

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