Courtesy Reuters

Postwar Development in Viet Nam

Viet Nam has become more than a small country in South- east Asia. It has become a symbol of a new kind of American involvement in world affairs and a focus for intense and bitter divisions throughout every facet of American society. Few issues have produced a greater flow of books, articles, speeches, journalism and TV reports and commentaries. This stream of words has been devoted almost exclusively to two subjects: the conduct of the war, with speculations about appropriate military strategy and prospects, and the political and moral issues of the position of the United States and its allies. Whether the people of Viet Nam prosper or become permanent economic and political cripples or dependents, and how they may construct a viable nation after the fighting ceases, are issues that are rarely discussed. Yet the answers to such questions may determine the future even more than the direct outcome of the war itself. Whether the sacrifice of lives and treasure has been wasted, what lies ahead for Southeast Asia as a region, and indeed, the future standing and influence of the United States in the Pacific Basin will depend largely on the skill-or lack of it-with which the postwar economic development and reconstruction of Viet Nam, both South and North, are planned and carried out.

The task of postwar planning, of creating a design and a strategy for the transition from a wartime to a peacetime footing, and of making an objective assessment of the prospects of South Viet Nam's economy in the years ahead has been assigned to a Joint Development Group, an organization composed of a private American company, Development and Resources Corporation, and a group of Vietnamese professionals. The Joint Group has been engaged on this assignment for nearly two years. In January 1969, the Vietnamese people and their leaders will be presented with a comprehensive report and a work-program for 1969 and 1970 dealing with virtually every aspect of these postwar prospects and how to begin to turn them

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