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43 years ago: Victory in Vietnam is within our reach

Sep. 6, 2013  |  Comments
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Each Monday, we turn to a day in the newspaper's history for a look at what the Editorial Board found worthy of comment. We will preserve the punctuation and capitalization of the original editorial column. Here is what we wrote on Sept. 9, 1970:

Enemy outlook gloomy

Critics of the war keep harping on how gloomy the outlook is for our side in Vietnam. They should look at the other side.

Ray Cromley, an NEA correspondent in Washington, tells of reading the most pessimistic assessment of the Vietnam war he has ever seen. It's a directive on how the war is to be fought in 1970 and the forseeable future, written by the Central Office for South Vietnam, which is the Communist high command in the south. Written last November to party committees throughout the south, it was only recently captured.

Cromley notes that the resolution was not meant to be discouraging and boasts on almost every page of the great defeats handed the Americans and South Vietnamese. Final victory is hailed.

But, in directing committees on their future tasks and away from their mistakes, it outlines what has gone wrong in the past. "We place too much reliance" on winning the war through military victories, it says. "We failed" to motivate the masses, to get close to the people and get them on "our" side.

It says the political struggle was neglected. Propagandization of the party line has not been carried on with diligence. Party leadership has deteriorated.

The party committees, it says, have become "divorced" from the "masses."

Does all this sound familiar? Critics of our efforts in Vietnam have repeatedly told us that the political struggle was being neglected, that Saigon did not have the confidence of the "masses" and that the South Vietnamese troops are no match for the dedicated North Vietnamese fighting man. What they forget to mention is that if our problems involved in "winning" the war are difficult, the problems of the enemy are many times more so.

Considering the problem of the Reds, we may be closer to a reasonable termination of the American commitment of fighting men than most critics realize.

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