to or resisted. According to this newnethic, whatever Mr. Young did andnMessrs. Bond and Jackson may say innsupport, it would be morally wrong, ornat least unbecoming, to hold them rensponsible for it. It’s an unsalubriousnclimate in which no positives willngrow.nSome Current FallaciesnAbout Foreign Affairs:nThe Lessons of VietnamnSince the last years of the Indochinanwar, and the moral and intellectual collapsentriggered, if not caused, by thatnwar, public discussion of foreign policynhas been conducted in a more than usuallynconfused and emotional atmosphere.nThe result is that discussionnof international affairs, particularly innthe mass media, has centered around annumber of unexamined assumptionsnand even catch phrases, which rarelynreceive criticism. A full dissection ofnthese fallacies might require a book,nbut a brief look at some of them maynbe worthwhile.nPerhaps the favorite theme of popularndiscussion, explicitly or implicitly, isn”No More Vietnams.” Reference is oftennmade to the “lessons of Vietnam”—na phrase which is regularly trotted outnto justify inaction or appeasement. Liken”detente” it is a rubber-band term. Then”lessons” sound concrete but are actuallynquite vague, for they are nevernspelled out. That is not surprising, fornthe people who use this phrase oftennhave no clear idea of what happened innVietnam. Nor is it clear whose lessonsnare meant, for different groups foundndifferent things wrong with our involvementnthere. Some, like Hans Morgenthau,nheld that communist victorynever3rwhere on the Asian mainland wasninevitable, and we must accept it; othersn—we might call them the antidominonschool—argue that what happened innany particular country would not affectnthe others, so our intervention was unnecessary.nSome opposed defending annundemocratic regime as incompatiblenwith our ideals, others claimed that wenwere forcing our ideas on a people whondidn’t want them. The Carter administration’snforeign policies are largely administerednby men who supported thenwar and then lost their nerve. This administrationnseems particularly entrancednby the “lessons of Vietnam”—nso it’s not surprising that its foreignnpolicy has been pretty confused.nThere is, however, a common underlyingnassumption about the war tyingnthe disparate views together. That isnthat our intervention was not only mistaken,nbut that its failure was inevitable.nAfter all, if the “Best and Brightest”ncouldn’t succeed, who could.’ Not a fewnliberals, like David Halberstam, reactednto the Kennedy and Johnson administrations’nfailures by losing faithnin reason and intelligence. But in realitynit is hard to find a war more ineptlynconducted; from today’s perspective,nwe begin to see that our leaders actednsimilarly to the “donkeys” (accordingnto the then-current London street parlance)nwho ran British affairs in WorldnWar I. Whether or not our interventionnwas right or necessary, there were manynmeasures that could have been takennfrom 1965 onward that would havenbrought victory, or rather would havenprevented a North Vietnamese victory.nSome hidden assumptions tag alongnwith this obsession with Vietnam. Onenis that that war was the worst thingnto happen, or that has ever happened,nat least to the USA. Another is that itnis a pattern of events that somehow isnlikely to repeat itself, or perhaps has alreadynbeen repeated. It may be recallednthat a year or two ago Congress and thenmass media boasted of having preventedn”another Vietnam” in Angola. That is,nthey meant that they prevented it for thenUnited States; they didn’t quite managenthat feat for the Angolans.nNow anyone who thinks that the Vietnamnwar was a particularly horriblendisaster, has a rather poor acquaintancenwith the history of the world since 1914,nor even with the possibilities of thenpresent. Next to a nuclear holocaustnnnVietnam would be invisible. Had mostnpeople in say, I960 (when fear of nuclearnwar was more intense than it is today),nbeen told that the worst thing thatnwould happen in the next fifteen yearsnwould be a communist conquest of Indochinanwith the deaths of 50,000 Americans,nthey might have been rather relieved.nThe foregoing may strike manynpeople as callous, but I only wish tonmake the point that many things worsenthan Vietnam are possible. Slowly, anrecognition makes itself prevalent thatna policy obsessed with avoiding anothernVietnam will lead us—is probably alreadynleading us—into much greaternperils. Nor is Vietnam likely to be repeated,nfor that situation was almostnunique in the postwar era. Nowherenelse was a Communist Party so wellplacednto compete with rival nationalistngroups, while in other divided nationsncommunist rule has had to be imposednby nothing short of naked Soviet power.nThe situation in Angola, where wensupposedly deftly avoided another Vietnam,nwas in most respects the completenopposite of that in Vietnam. The anticommunistsnwere clearly the strongerngroup in Angola. The Angolan communistsnwere boosted to power by outsidenmilitary intervention; the anticommunistsnwere forced to wage a guerrillanwar against regulars who were entirelyndependent on sea routes very vulnerablento American action. Actually,nthose elements who have preened themselvesnon our failure to help our friendsnsometimes admit this. They explainnthat the Soviets will learn that foolingnaround in other people’s internal affairsn”doesn’t pay,” they’ll “learn their lesson”nthat one can’t impose one’s views onnother countries. Of course, they do notnexplain why the Soviets have so conspicuouslynfailed to learn this in EasternnEurope. But these people often peddle anrather distorted idea of pre-VietnamnAmerican policy, grumbling that Americanmust no longer be the “policeman ofnthe world.” It would be news in EasternnEurope, and many other places, that itnever was. (AJL). Dnmm^^^m^mm^^nSeptember/October 1979n