Courtesy Reuters

Squaring the Error

If you wish for peace, understand war-particularly the guerrilla and subversive forms of war." Thus runs an old maxim, as rephrased by Liddell Hart. It seems to me, as an outside observer and commentator (although I was involved in Viet Nam for nearly four years), that understanding the war has been the crux of the American problem and that the two great obstacles to understanding it have been the military and the liberals. Both have failed to understand what Mao Tse-tung calls "the time, place and character" of the war. Moreover, the domestic clash between the two within the United States has led to a polarization of extreme views, as between the doves and the hawks, for withdrawal or further escalation. Both these courses are, in my view, losers, as is the enclave theory, which is no more than an agonizing withdrawal-like Aden. The only difference between the two is that, by withdrawing, you merely lose, but by further escalation, you lose stinking. When I put this view to a leading member of the Administration, he said: "You mean, like barbarians?" It would be just that, and, when the conflict ended, the question would indeed be, in Senator Dirksen's words, "Where will you stand and with whom will you sit?" But the real question is: If these are losing options, is there a winning one?

Before considering this, I must first say that I do not question either the legal or moral right or the good intentions of the United States in being in Viet Nam. Indeed, I consider that the outcome of the war will be of vital consequence to the future of the world (admittedly more so now that so much has been laid on the line than would have been the case a few years ago), and that it may well prove to be as decisive as any war in this century. I am not suggesting that defeat, quite apart from the disastrous effect that it would have

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