To no one’s great surprise, the United States has resumed the bombing of a sovereign nation with which it is not at war. This was clearly done to stem the rising tide of criticism of the war, which was beginning to be heard even within the president’s own party.
The decision to take the issue to the U.N. is a token concession to the critics. Although the outcome of the Security Council debate seems uncertain, it is clear that the U.S. would never have agreed to initiate debate if it envisioned any adverse decisions resulting from this.
It is also clear that there will be increasing numbers of U.S. troops in South Vietnam (current figures now run as high as 600,000 men), more death, and more destruction in Vietnam.
James Reston, writing in the New York Times of February 1, said that the resumption of bombing raised several important questions:
“1) Why did the President choose to start bombing again now when no organization of units of the regular North Vietnamese Army have been engaged or seen since mid-December?
“2) How can he explain to the United Nations that he wanted its help to get peace but started the bombing before he presented his case?
“3) What evidence is there that raising the level of violence will do any better than it has done in the past?”
The answer to these questions is evident: neither the ‘peace offensive’ nor the United Nations debate have had any serious intent behind them. The administration is blinded; Johnson wants victory in Vietnam, whatever the costs.
This, then, puts a heavy burden of responsibility on each of us. Each person, whether through writing his congressman or attending demonstrations and rallies, should try to take part in the anti-war groups active in the city. Each person should try to raise the issues of the war within other groups in which he is active. It may very well be that our actions will be futile; but if we remain silent, we kill.
See Fifth Estate’s Vietnam Resource Page.