Courtesy Reuters


Whatever course the long struggle in Viet Nam finally takes, short of nuclear holocaust, one thing seems certain: the people of Viet Nam still will be there. This is a reminder that war in Viet Nam is a "people's war." As such, it is a constantly recurring phenomenon of this period of man's history. How it is fought and what happens to the Vietnamese people as a result have meanings, therefore, far beyond today or the boundaries of Viet Nam itself. "People's wars" elsewhere will also make demands on the American people to help solve them. Thus, although the hour is late in Viet Nam, terribly so, there is time yet for Americans to consider the war in Viet Nam in its "people" nature, especially as regards what American assistance in these critical months will come to mean to the Vietnamese people in their own future, and to us in ours.

Nearly four years ago now, on December 20, 1960, the Communists set up the political base with which they hoped to win Viet Nam by revolutionary struggle. The base consisted of an idea and of an organization to start giving that idea reality. Both the idea and the concept of the organization were foreign, having traveled the distance in time and space from Lenin in the Soviet Union via Mao in China.

The Communist idea was to gain control of the 14,000,000 people living in South Viet Nam by destroying their faith in their own government and creating faith in the inevitability of a Communist take-over. The organization to do this through a phased series of disciplined actions was called "The National Liberation Front of South Viet Nam." It had a central committee to direct its operations, the beginnings of a country-wide apparatus for political-psychological-military actions, and a wide assortment of member "fronts," manned by small cadres, to appeal politically to mass groupings of Vietnamese people: the farmers, the workers, the youth, the intellectuals, and even the civil servants and military.

Ever since

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