Saigon

The script is painfully familiar: a vain and increasingly isolated leader, an ineffectual and autocratic regime, a people plagued by poverty and deprived of democracy, a Communist movement mounting a potent political and military challenge. This time the scene is the Philippines. where the ghosts of Chiang Kai-shek, Fulgencio Batista, Ngo Dinh Diem, Nguyen Van Thieu, and Anastasio Somoza haunt the Malacanang Palace of Ferdinand Marcos. The 10,000 to 20,000 peasant guerrillas of the Communist New People’s Army are not yet in a position to take over Manila.

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The Powers That Be by David Halberstam (Knopf; $15) David Halberstam. Halberstam, that was what everybody called him (after all, it was his name). They always said what Halberstam needed was a good editor, his sentences ran on and on, he piled phrase upon phrase and clause upon clause, he used commas the way other men used periods.

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For at least eight years it seemed reasonable to me to assume that sooner or later, no matter what we did in Vietnam, things would end badly for us. This feeling was not based on any desire to see us humiliated, or any feeling that the other side represented the forces of goodness and light; it just seemed that the only way to stave off an eventual Communist victory was with an open-ended, and therefore endless, application of American firepower in support of the South Vietnamese regime. No matter how much force we were willing to use, this would not end the war, only prevent Saigon's defeat.

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Torture

… I was arrested on May 11, 1970, in Sao Paulo, on my way to dinner with a young lady I had recently met… She had been arrested several days previously and violently tortured and taken to Operacion Bandeirantes… With four armed policemen we went to OBAN headquarters. During the journey [one] ordered the young lady to show me her hands so that I 'could have an idea of what awaited me.' They… were handcuffed… greatly swollen and covered with dark purple hematomas.

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In the process, we lose sight of one of the cardinal maxims of a guerrilla war: the guerrilla wins if he does not lose.—Henry Kissinger, Foreign Affairs, January, 1969. The Nixon Administration is not prepared to negotiate in Paris under any terms short of capitulation by the other side. An impasse strategy has taken shape, based, unfortunately, on that glimmer of marsh gas known as Vietnamization. Listen.

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Impasse At Paris

After more than four months and 24 sessions, the Paris talks are still at an impasse; no progress has been made; there have been only "official conversations" and no negotiations. These meetings have provided both sides with full opportunity to expound official positions on the origins and development of the conflict and to castigate each other's very different interpretations. But all this has amounted to little more than repetition of statements made publicly elsewhere by spokesmen of both governments.

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Jaw-jaw is better than war-war," remarked Winston Churchill. But the two are not mutually exclusive. The "jaw-jaw" of the Peace Talks has de-escalated to one low-key session a week, while the "war-war" has escalated to a new peak of intensity and human loss. Are the Paris talks a cruel mockery? Is anything happening here; can anything happen here? One is tempted to dismiss it all as unreal. Outside the halls and lobbies France has quivered in crisis.

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With the presidential campaign barely more than a year away, there are signs that Mr. Johnson is planning to add something new to the war effort which could eventually change the nature of the Vietnam struggle. The new factor is a “barrier” of electronic devices around Vietnam to monitor infiltration of men and supplies from North Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, and to permit rapid border enforcement.

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Interview with Mao

Peking—In a rare interview which lasted about four hours, Mao Tse-tung conversed with me on topics ranging over what he himself called shan nan hai pei, or “from south of the mountains to north of the seas.” With China’s bountiful 200-million-ton 1964 grain harvest taxing winter storage capacities, with shops everywhere offering inexpensive foods and consumer goods necessities, and with technological and scientific advances climaxed by an atomic bang that saluted Khrushchev’s political demise. Chairman Mao might well have claimed a few creative achievements.

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Indo-China

 FOR THE THIRD time, and after two years, one was back. There seemed at first so little that had changed: in Saigon there were new traffic lights in the Rue Catina and rather more beer bottle tops trodden into the asphalt outside the Continental Hotel and the Imperial Bar.

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