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For and Against U. S. Involvement in Vietnam

Questions for Discussion

  1. After printing out and reading the text of the two documents, summarize the arguments for and against U. S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Address the following issues as you formulate your response:
    • Anti-War
    • United States economic/imperial interests
    • Arguments why we must leave
    • Military-Industrial complex
    • Use of torture
    • Effect on minorities and workers
    • Pro-War
    • Democracy in Vietnam
    • Living standard in the United States
    • Threat of communism
    • Honesty of Vietnamese negotiations
    • Domino theory
Mimeo flyer by David Fyfe. No Date. Rutgers Special Collection and University Archives
Mimeo flyer by David Fyfe. No Date. Rutgers Special Collection and University Archives.

Recent events in the war in South Vietnam indicate that a critical point has been reached. Skillfully worded arguments have been brought forth to show that we should leave. The purpose of this admittedly inadequate handbill is the presentation of the opposing view. It is the beginning of the explanation of:


The Ad Hoc Committee has presented, and will continue to present, reasons for US withdrawal from South Vietnam; we are using torture, suppressing democracy, overemphasizing the threat of communism, and brutalizing ourselves. The main objections I have to these reasons are their evasion of truth and their irrelevance.


It is true that torture will cease if America withdraws support? No, as revealed by those who oppose the US position in Vietnam. "Terror is used... as revenge"-- Why? Because the Viet Cong have used terror since before 1954. They have murdered literally thousands of village leaders, teachers, and technicians, to terrorize the majority of the Vietnamese people. Their methods of torture are used to drive home such lessons as, "Stay in the army and someday you'll find yourself floating, alive, in the river, slit from collarbone to crotch," or, "If your husband or son becomes an officer in the army, we'll have to burn him with five gallons of gasoline, just like that poor misguided Captain tied to the tree over there."


The question of democracy is irrelevant to US participation in Vietnam. A more important questions seems to be: Do the Vietnamese need democracy, for which they are not properly educated, or do they need a stable government which can protect them from Viet Cong terror? The need today is for the preservation of the possibility of self-rule against those forces which represent themselves as being of the people, but never bother to ask the people what they want.


Is there a Communist threat? It would seem there is. The approximately 25,000 hard-core Communists who direct the activities of the Viet Cong take their orders directly from Ho Chi Minh, who in turn, is and was influenced by, and influences, the higher echelons of the Chinese Communist Party. The name of the political organ of the Viet Cong is, by a strange coincidence, the same as that of similar organizations in Algeria, Brazil, and Venezuela. It was the last organization, by the way, that supported democracy by threatening to kill anyone going to the polls on Election Day in Venezuela.


What about charges of Nazism? I feel indignation at torture not only because it is cruel, but because it is stupid and wasteful. I also feel indignation at attempts to label the US government Fascist because I see them as a method of exerting pressure at present and bringing about the destruction of our society by erosion of its faith itself. This label is one applied by Communists to destroy the effectiveness of the opposition. With due respect to the American Nutsy Party, I fail to see many "fascists" in this country. (And I've looked under my bed.) I feel sorry for those who are always looking for them, for they are among the first who would be executed if the Communists seized power here.


Finally, the big question. Why stay? A map of the area will quickly explain what will happen if South Vietnam falls. Cambodia and Laos will go under, Thailand and Malay (Malaysia) will be severely threatened. In addition, Malaysia will be split by an Indochina, Indonesia axis. The Philippines, a target of renewed Communist infiltration, will be under pressure from China, Indochina, and Indonesian Australia and New Zealand will be seriously threatened. Considering the amount of "face" Communist China will gain from victory in its special field of warfare, the consequences might include intensifying of the Cold War and a possibility that we would have to fall back on our next line of defense, Hawaii.


For strategic reasons alone, we cannot abandon South Vietnam. What more is there to say?


I call for the formation of an Ad Hoc Committee to support continued US presence in Vietnam. I also ask those of you who read this to pass it on. Copies cost money and I'm just a poor right-winger who has very little. Thank-you.

David Fyfe
no deals
Mimeo from the Rutgers University Students for a Democratic Society. September, 1969. Rutgers Special Collections and University Archives.


No Deals in Vietnam - U. S. Get Out Now!


As the Viet Nam war drags on, more and more people are realizing that the war is not merely the mistake of a few evil politicians. Those who control the system - the bankers, businessmen, factory owners and landlords - must always maximize profits to stay in competition with each other, and to do so, they must expand into new areas for economic activity. The true objective of American involvement in Viet Nam is to maintain political and economic hegemony over Southeast Asia, to provide the ruling interests with resources to plunder, and more cheap labor to exploit. When people of these areas begin to exploit these policies, the small minority of men in this country who, because they own the economic institutions, have effective control of the government, will employ whatever means are necessary to crush such movements, be they in Viet Nam, the Congo, or the Dominican Republic. Thus the war is not an error, but a calculated, necessary step to secure and preserve American imperial control throughout the world.


Many big corporations and banks have huge investments in Viet Nam, including Chase Manhattan, also noted for its extensive holdings in South Africa. The government encourages continual new investment and more U. S. corporate control of resources and wealth, and backs it up with half a million troops.


At the same time as the corporations make tremendous profits, the fighting of the war necessarily places a tremendous and growing burden on most people in this country. Through lost lives, decline in real wages, spiraling inflation, exorbitant war taxes, speed-up and required overtime, large draft calls for mainly working class youth, and political suppression of students and workers - through all of these means, the class of men trying to defeat the Vietnamese movement for liberation is similarly attempting to pass on the enormous costs of the war to tens of millions of American wage-earners, one-third of whom are black or Spanish-speaking and are most severely hard-hit. One of the most striking examples of this added oppression is that fact that, as reported in the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others, the real wages (i.e. buying power) of the average worker have actually declined since 1965.


While living conditions for masses of American people deteriorate, the profits and prosperity of America's corporations and the few who own them in New York welfare decreases, continue to rise. Ghetto rebellions, extended wildcat strikes, mass demonstrations for improved conditions and restorations of budget cuts (as in New York welfare decreases), widespread spontaneous student unrest not only in the universities but in the high schools as well, are invalidating the myth that Americans are content and well-off under the present system. The government and mass media tell people that they must not fight their exploitation because they have some mystical loyalty to the "national interest." But the growing shortage of decent low-rent housing, the increase in consumer prices, the deterioration of social services, coupled with conditions on the job-- speed-up, more pressure in production, the consequent rise in industrial accidents-- are making increasingly clear to American workers where their true interests lie; in allying with their Vietnamese counterparts in struggle against the common enemy, the system which is called imperialism. It is in the interests of the people of this country for the U.S. to get out of Vietnam now.


The logic of the United States in achieving its goals necessitates two tactics: the carrot and the stick. Besides using invasion and mass terror, it will try to take back at the negotiating table in Paris what it has lost on the battlefield. Yet despite all the shifting of bombing sites called bombing halts and the rhetoric of desires for peace, the U.S. government will accept only those conditions which favor the rulers and owners of this system. The negotiations are a fraud on the public because throughout them the U.S. tries to conceal its purposes. McCarthy, Kennedy, Lindsay, Lowenstein and other liberals never call for immediate withdrawal and no negotiations. They merely have a different tactic for taking over Viet Nam. They seek a negotiated settlement and protection of a U.S. backed Thieu-Ky regime. We must take the lead in exposing the cover-up tactic of negotiations and build a mass movement that launches a broad-based attack on the U.S. government to get out of Viet Nam now.


In order to rebuild the anti-war movement, SDS will launch a demonstration on Saturday, September 27, at Hammarskjold Plaza at 1st Avenue and 47th Street at 1:00 p.m. Masses of people must come out to show the U.S. bosses that we will not stand for this war and its vicious attacks on the Vietnamese and American working people.

Questions for Discussion

  1. Which of the two arguments is more convincing, in your opinion? Indicate which three facts were the most influential in bringing you to this conclusion.
  2. Think of an issue that is controversial today, and provide three reasons for one side and three reasons for the other. With which side do you agree more?