Courtesy Reuters

If Negotiations Fail

Despite the willingness of many Americans to settle for less than a satisfactory settlement in Viet Nam, and despite the possibility that events may foreclose the alternatives, it seems useful to examine just how "bad" a settlement we really are willing to accept and what the alternatives to such a settlement are. Despite heated discussion, some of the central issues involved in negotiations have not been debated-or at least not in sufficient detail and concreteness to make them clear. Indeed, so far each side is demanding victory on its own terms, the only difference being that we have offered North Viet Nam some face-saving devices, while Hanoi talks as if it is determined to humiliate us. Thus many people have dismissed these public positions as debating stances or meaningless rhetoric designed to raise morale or inspire confidence among allies and supporters-not serious approaches to settlement.

The problem, I suspect, is more fundamental. It is difficult to imagine that the United States will acquiesce in any solution in which those forces and elements in South Viet Nam which have been seriously committed to our side will be denied a major voice in the settlement or very reliable guarantees against molestation and discrimination after a settlement is achieved. They include two or three million individuals in the armed forces, the Government and the administration of the country-and their families. Our moral "wards" also include most of the million or so Montagnards, some major part of the one to two million adherents of the Hoa Hao religion, most of the 1.7 million Catholics, many of the 1.4 million Chinese (most of them seemingly neutral in the war rather than actively anti-Viet Cong), probably a majority of the million or so Cao Dai, almost all members of the Dai Viet and VNQDD political parties, and others.

Even those Vietnamese whose anti-communism derives from their status as landlords, property owners, merchants, officers, civil servants, etc., are entitled to protection-at least in so far as they may find themselves

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