August 28, 1970
Congressional Record - Senate: Pages 30376 - 30383
Mr. HATFIELD. Mr. President, the Vietnam war continues. That is the one clear, unmistakable fact that we must all recognize. After two decades of American involvement; after 10 years of American men fighting in Southeast Asia; after $140 billion has been spent; after dropping more bombs on North and South Vietnam than the total of all bombs dropped during World War II and the Korean war; after 43,000 Americans have been killed and 285,000 wounded; after more than 122,000 South Vietnamese soldiers have died and more than 295,000 casualties; after an estimated 300,000 civilian deaths; after 1 million civilian casualties; after 4 million have lost their homes; after an estimated 620,000 North Vietnamese and Vietcong soldiers have died, the war continues.
Despite 27 months at the Paris negotiating table; despite halts, resumptions, and halts, in the bombing of the North. Despite programs and plans for Vietnamization - despite all this the Vietnam war continues. And it will continue.
Americans will continue to die there. Vietnamese will continue to die. The country will continue to be torn apart by bombs. Civilians will continue to be maimed and slaughtered. America’s resources will continue to be drained. Our young men will continue to be alienated, and our position in the eyes of all the world will continue to erode.
So I ask my colleagues - what is their plan, what is their way, what is the method that they prescribe to bring this conflict to an end? How is it all going to stop? Tell me the way that will bring this unfortunate chapter of our Nation’s history to a close.
Vietnamization - that is what we most often hear proposed. Vietnamization is put forth as a plan for ending the war. But it is nothing of the sort. Vietnamization means that South Vietnamese will fight and die in increasing numbers instead of Americans. Eventually Americans will fire the artillery and fly the planes and drop the bombs, but the South Vietnamese will shoot the rifles. Vietnamization is not a plan for ending the war in Vietnam. At best, it is a plan designed to reduce American casualties and to enable fewer American troops to be in Vietnam while still pursuing the same goals that have been guiding our policy over the past decades.
Let us examine what we really mean when we talk about Vietnamization. We constantly hear about the numbers of completed and proposed troop withdrawals from Vietnam. Seldom, however, do we recognize the number of present and projected troops that remain in Vietnam. The President’s announced reduction of 150,000 additional troops by April 1971, will leave approximately the same number of Americans in Vietnam as there were in the summer of 1966. It is not clear exactly what will be our policy relating to troop withdrawals beyond that time. Some reports suggest that we will never be able to reduce our forces below about 200,000 men. Other reports have suggested that the intention is to bring American forces eventually down to a lower level - perhaps 20,000 to 50,000 remaining as a residual force.
In any event, the details of our policy beyond this time are not known. But it is clear that we do intend to retain a specific military presence in that country.
The President has announced three criteria which shall guide the progress of our troop withdrawals. The first is the progress of negotiations in Paris. I would speak to this point in further depth later, but now I will only point out that after 27 months and 81 meetings there has been no progress.
The second criterion announced by the President to guide the rate of troop withdrawals is the level of enemy activity. I assume that what is meant by this factor is that as long as the enemy stops fighting, then we can withdraw our troops. That, of course, is perfectly reasonable. But it is true that as long as Americans are present and fighting in Vietnam, the enemy has absolutely no intention of suddenly laying down his arms.
Thus the level of enemy activity offers no hope for troop withdrawals unless one assumes that we can militarily crush the enemy into surrender - a goal which the administration has repudiated in its own statements.
And so, the war continues.
The third factor governing the rate of our withdrawal from Vietnam, according to the administration, is the ability of the South Vietnamese to take over the fighting on their own. As Vice President Agnew stated on August 20, 1970, “Withdrawal - from Vietnam - will take place only as the capability of the South Vietnamese becomes able to take up the slack.” In other words, if the South Vietnamese become better able to fight and to win without our assistance, then we will find it possible to withdraw added numbers of our troops. But the opposite is also clear. If the South Vietnamese are unable to maintain an effective military position against their opponents, then our troops will remain. We never would have sent more than 500,000 Americans to Vietnam if the South Vietnamese could successfully fight their own war.
Nevertheless, assume for a moment that you accept the basic premise of Vietnamization; namely, that the war can continue but that the South Vietnamese should be responsible for the fighting.
The question then becomes this: when would be a reasonable time for the South Vietnamese to go it on their own? Vietnamization as such is really nothing new. We have been trying to give them the ability to defend themselves on their own since the time the first American dollar and first American soldier arrived. So the South Vietnamese have had the direct benefit of our presence and equipment and training for more than 10 years and our indirect assistance for a decade before that. We have given them more than $6.6 billion worth of direct military aid since 1950.
All this effort - I suppose - has been successful in some ways. The South Vietnamese now have armed forces numbering more than 1 million men. If you add to this the size of the local police and security forces which provide defense, you then have another 250,000 men. Thus, they now have a strong and formidable force. What is the size of the enemy whom they fight against? At present, it is estimated that there are 240,000 North Vietnamese and Vietcong whom they fight against in the South. The Vietnamese have approximately an additional 400,000 soldiers in their total army in the north whom they have never committed to the south. It is doubtful they could ever commit that total number. According to the Defense Department, 620,000 of the enemy troops have died in battle. With enemy forces so reduced, with all the assistance and aid we have given them and would, in the foreseeable future, always hold a very decisive advantage.
And so, what does it really take to enable them to defend themselves on their own? The question is, will they ever be able to? If one accepts the basic premise behind Vietnamization, and if one believes it should at least be given a chance, then let me ask this - is it reasonable to give Vietnamization another year, or even more than a year, another 15 months to see if it will succeed? Now is not that a reasonable approach? Let us say you believe that, for some reason, a force of 1.2 million men cannot now effectively defend themselves against a force of 225,000 of their fellow countrymen. And that, given enough time and preparation and materiel and support this force of more than a million men eventually will be able to effectively defend themselves against their opponent. Well, then, let us see if they are able to do that in the next year or so. Let us say that we will do everything we can continue to give them all the manpower, all the training, and all the support of our own troops that they require until the end of 1971 - let us propose that. And let us see if then they can finally be able to defend themselves on their own. And if they cannot effectively defend themselves by the end of 1971, then I would submit they will never be able to effectively defend themselves.
Vietnamization has currently been defined to mean this: we will continue to fight for the Vietnamese as long as they cannot fight on their own. That may take 2 years, or 4 years, or 8 years, or 10 years - or never. That sort of policy is nothing more than a rationalization for maintaining American military involvement in the Vietnam war. But let us interpret Vietnamization in a different way, in a more reasonable manner. Let us say that we will give them all that they need - give everything that we have - offering the South Vietnamese every opportunity to fight on their own, and devote the next year to that end. We will announce that by the end of that year they will then have to continue the conflict, if they so desire, without the assistance of American military forces.
That is what our amendment proposes. It knows that the South Vietnamese will never be able to fight on their own as long as they are never told that they will have to do so. It knows that the South Vietnamese will never prepare themselves in earnest for fighting without the help of American Armed Forces so long as they are told that Americans will give them help as long as they need it. By linking our withdrawals to the ability of the South Vietnamese to fight on their own, we have a formula for a never-ending American involvement.
If we truly want to give the South Vietnamese the ability and the opportunity to carry on this struggle independently of our military forces - if we truly are seeking that aim - then we must tell them in no uncertain terms that they must become militarily independent of our manpower. And why should that be so startling, so threatening - particularly when they have more than a year to prepare for that circumstance. Why should they feel nervous, or threatened, about having to fight on their own against a force currently only one-fifth the size of their own? Why should they be resisting every American word that mentions increasing the pace of American withdrawal?
The conclusion one is tempted to draw is that they doubt whether they possess what is truly necessary to carry out their aims - that they doubt they have the necessary determination, the necessary commitment, the necessary will to achieve their goals. But if this is the case - if they are lacking in those essential qualities, then no degree of American involvement ever can or ever will achieve those ends for them.
Most serious of all, Vietnamization simply does not provide for a stable political settlement of the conflict; rather it is a formula for a continuing, protracted war. President Nixon has stated on April 20, 1970, that "a political settlement is the heart of the matter." And yet, if we rely solely upon Vietnamization of the war, there will be no political accommodation between the antagonists in Vietnam. Vietnamization merely changes the nature of the conflict; it does not resolve political differences; it does not halt the loss of life; and it perpetuates the very political instability which dragged us into Vietnam initially.
And so, Vietnamization alone is simply not the way out. It does not provide for the complete withdrawal of American troops; it is a military strategy which fails to deal with the political roots of the war: it does not achieve peace but only changes the identity of some of those who die. And the war continues.
The President’s alternative to Vietnamization has been progress at the Paris peace talks. However, those talks have been stalemated since they began. On June 30, 1970, President Nixon stated that when his administration took office:
The United States had been negotiating at Paris for ten months but nothing had been agreed upon other than the shape of the bargaining table.
And in his Vietnam “up-date” report _on April 20, 1970, he candidly admitted must report with regret that no progress has taken place on the negotiating front.
Some have charged that this amendment would undermine Ambassador Bruce and destroy any chance for a negotiated settlement at Paris. A complete withdrawal, they maintain, would eliminate any incentive for the North Vietnamese and the Vietcong to negotiate because they will have achieved the primary purpose of their negotiations - the withdrawal of American troops.
And yet, it must be pointed out that the real difference here is the pace of withdrawal, not withdrawal itself. The President has already wisely committed us to a withdrawal of some American troops. We seek to speed that withdrawal, to disengage militarily with honor and order and safety.
Apparently even the Administration does not believe that withdrawal of American troops would undermine the Paris negotiations. If so, they would appear to be working at cross purposes. Vice President Agnew himself has defended the withdrawal of troops while we negotiate. On May 3, 1970, on “Face the Nation,” Peter Lisagor asked him:
Why should (the North Vietnamese) come to Paris to negotiate seriously, Mr. Vice-President, if we have already proclaimed that we are withdrawing from South Vietnam? What is the inducement for them to negotiate?
Vice President AGNEW responded:
They are not only negotiating with us, they are negotiating with the South Vietnamese, and the South Vietnamese are going to be there a long time.
This is precisely the point. Any true resolution of differences in South Vietnam, any political accommodation, must come from the South Vietnamese themselves. Our withdrawal will not undermine those negotiations; they will not eliminate the possibilities for a political settlement to what is essentially a political conflict.
In fact, we have every reason to believe that a stated withdrawal of all American troops more than 15 months from now would initiate the first real breakthrough in the stalemated negotiations. Saigon has demonstrated little or no interest in a negotiated settlement of the war, and as the course of Vietnamization, with the continued American presence in South Vietnam, has become more clear, President Thieu has grown increasingly intransigent.
On July 28 Thieu announced confidently that he expected total military victory in 3 years, that he would “never accept a Government coalition with the Communists,” and that –
If the Communists do not want peace, peace will certainly come with our victory .... If they wish to continue fighting, we will eliminate them. (Washington Post: July 30, 1970).
Within days the administration unfortunately chose to support such a rigid position, declaring on July 31:
We are opposed to a coalition government, negotiated or imposed. (Washington Post: august 1, 1970)
As long as Americans remain in Vietnam, as long as we continue to shore up Thieu and his clique in Saigon, he has no reason to take negotiations seriously or to begin to make concessions and compromises necessary to unite the disparate factions in his country. And the war continues.
If, however, for the first time, we announced publicly and openly that American troops would not remain indefinitely in Vietnam, if we declared our intention not to remain there beyond December 31, 1971, then Thieu and the Saigon government would be compelled to confront the political realities of South Vietnam. We might then be able to achieve the concessions which we need and desire to achieve a stable and durable peace. For the first time, it could be possible to negotiate effectively the release of prisoners-of-war; a cease-fire and de-escalation could be instituted to secure the safety of American troops during withdrawal; the level of conflict in Laos and Cambodia could be reduced; and the political impasse in South Vietnam might at last be penetrated.
A fixed withdrawal date at the end of 1971 will not, as Vice President Agnew has charged, deal “a lethal blow" to the Paris talks. Rather, the illusion of real negotiations threaten to provide a rationalization for continuing the war indefinitely, not ending it.
Furthermore, the entire history of our involvement in Vietnam demonstrates that concrete results cannot be achieved by exerting only military leverage. This is the case for the United States; it was true also for the French. The North has shown every indication that it will fight a protracted war or it will seek =a. political settlement once a definite timetable for the withdrawal of all American forces has been established.
The real “lethal blow” to the Paris peace talks would be an escalation of military activity or another invasion of Cambodia. Secretary of State Rogers stated the candid truth when he said that the chances for a negotiated settlement of the war had deteriorated since the invasion of Cambodia. On July 15, he said that North Vietnam and the Vietcong would “not be inclined to negotiate”
after the setbacks they suffered in Cambodia and this meant that the prospect for the negotiations “in the next couple of months are not too bright." He also stated that the Vietnam war might very well end with “no war and no peace.”
This amendment is not a desertion of one commitment to the South Vietnamese people or their Government. Our sacrifice of American lives, our provision of arms, and money, our support for more than two decades speak eloquently of our concern for the people of South Vietnam.
We have no desire to abandon the South Vietnamese now or even 15 months from now. The amendment stipulates that military aid, including operations, may continue until December 31, 1971.
After that date, if American troops are still needed in South Vietnam, all the President must do is come to the Congress and explain why. By congressional action, South Vietnam could continue to receive the aid of our Armed Forces but the need and necessity must be established.
The destruction of Vietnam during this war has been so great that they will need aid and support for many years to rebuild their shattered society. Part of that aid might mean the supply of additional weapons and materiel to provide security and continued military aid to the South Vietnamese Army; part of that aid might be money and assistance to reform and transform the wreckage of the war. We are not deserting our allies; they have fought with us and died with us, but we cannot send Americans to die for them forever.
There simply comes a time when allies must become true allies and not dependents. Our commitment to South Vietnam has never been unlimited, and a stipulated withdrawal date 15 months in the future would serve notice to Saigon that the time has come for it to confront the conflicts which have destroyed the fabric and quality of Vietnamese life for so long.
And so, unless this amendment is passed, we are confronted with the indefinite commitment and maintenance of American troops in Vietnam, with a constant loss of American lives, and with support for a government which has made little effort to win the allegiance of the people it governs. The war continues now, and unless this amendment is passed, the war will go on with no definite end in sight.
This amendment provides the United States with an honorable and orderly way out. First, it merely stipulates that the present withdrawal rate already announced by the President would be put into legislative form. The administration has already stated that these withdrawals are irreversible, so this provision expresses congressional support for the President’s policy. Thus, this provision authorizes a troop level of no more than 280,000 men in Vietnam by April of 1971.
If, of course, the administration found it necessary to change its policy and not meet this withdrawal rate because of some unexpected contingency, Congress would simply be called upon to approve a differing authorization.
The second provision of the amendment concerns itself with those policies beyond April of 1971; it states that funds appropriated after that time for use in Indochina should be used for the following objectives:
First, the orderly termination of military operations there and the safe and systematic withdrawal of remaining armed forces by December 31, 1971;
Second, to secure the release of prisoners of war;
Third, the provision of asylum for Vietnamese who might be physically endangered by withdrawal of American forces; and
Fourth, to provide assistance to the Republic of Vietnam consistent with the foregoing objectives.
We do not know if this is inconsistent with the policies of the administration. They have chosen not to reveal their course of action beyond April of 1971. But we do believe it to be a sound and reasonable approach for the administration to follow. If, however, the President finds that either circumstances or policies prohibit him from withdrawing all armed forces by the end of 1971, and if this poses any danger to our military forces at that time, then he has the option of extending this timetable by 60 days. Further, if the President decides that armed forces should remain in Vietnam beyond this period of time, then he would be required to come to the Congress and set forth his recommendations and deadline for their withdrawal subject to the approval of the Congress.
Therefore, this amendment is an overture to the administration. We are seeking an approach which we believe will be most reasonable to all parties concerned.
We are giving the administration full authority to carry out its withdrawal program, to be completed by the end of 1971. If the administration differs with the course of action, then they need only to justify an alteration of the timetable to the Congress.
I do not know why the administration should find this to be an unreasonable proposal.
In my view, it certainly would be unreasonable to propose that the administration be given full authority for any course of continued military activity in Vietnam without congressional approval beyond 1971.
Therefore, I would hope that the administration will carefully consider this revised amendment with an open mind, In my view this represents a most sensible approach for guiding our future course of action in Vietnam; it is the responsible way for the legislative executive branches to cooperate together in this process.
There is no excuse for men of reasonable minds to reject such an overture.
The primary purpose of all these provisions is the preservation of human lives - South Vietnamese and American.
Some have objected that the amendment would tie the hands of the President as Commander in Chief. I categorically deny this.
The President himself stated on July 1, 1970, that "the right of the President of the United States under the Constitution (is) to protect the lives of American men."
This amendment in no way interferes with the power of the Commander in Chief to protect the lives of American men. It assures the safety of American men and enables the President to protect American troops during an orderly withdrawal.
A withdrawal by December 31, 1971, is the best means of holding down the number of American deaths and casualties in Vietnam. This is the conclusion of studies projecting American casualties in Vietnam prepared by two former staff members of the Office of Systems Analysis in the Department of Defense. We have no assurances that the present rates of withdrawal will continue, but assuming they would continue until all American troops had departed, we would be out of Vietnam by approximately September 1972.
Compared with this plan, a December 31, 1971, withdrawal date would mean 1,600 fewer American deaths and 14,000 fewer casualties.
If, however, current withdrawal rates continue leaving a residual force of 50,000 Americans in Vietnam until 1975, a withdrawal by the end of 1971 would mean 3,600 fewer deaths and 31,550 fewer casualties. Some plans call for a residual force of approximately 200,000 in Vietnam until 1975, and compared with this prospect, the amendment withdrawal date would save 10,900 American lives and prevent more than 96,000 casualties.
All this assumes that the present level of fighting would persist, as it gives every indication it will. It also assumes that there will be no cease-fire or reduction in the level of combat once a fixed withdrawal date of December 31, 1971 is declared. However, once we make it clear that we are withdrawing and will depart by a fixed date Hanoi and the Vietcong would have good reason to negotiate a cease-fire or reduce the level of fighting in order to assure a withdrawal by the end of next year.
In providing a way to reduce American casualties, the amendment can hardly be construed as restricting the Presidents powers as Commander in Chief only of those forces which have been raised and supported by the Congress. The framers of the Constitution strongly intended that the Commander in Chief should direct our military forces into war with other nations only when war had been declared by the Congress.
The wisdom of the separation of powers, therefore, applies to our Nation’s policies of defense and foreign affairs just as clearly as it applies to domestic issues. It is no infringement upon the President’s constitutional duties as Commander in Chief for Congress to exercise its own judgment over the support of armies for specific purposes.
For too long the Congress has given the President almost sole responsibility for the war; this must be changed. I want to see the Congress reassume its proper constitutional responsibility. The American people hold us accountable for what this Government does; we must answer to them.
The American public supports a withdrawal from Vietnam by the end of 1971.
The Harris poll of August 17, 1970, indicates that 44 percent of the American public favor a withdrawal by the end of 1971 while 35 percent oppose it. This sentiment is further evidenced by an earlier Gallup poll during the last week in May which indicated that 48 percent favored a withdrawal by July 1971, or before, while only 31 percent favored the President’s policy of timing withdrawals on the ability of the South Vietnamese to handle the fighting.
As elected representatives or the people, we must listen to them. They favor an orderly and rational withdrawal of American troops by the end of 1971, and the approval of this amendment will testify to the Senate’s ability to respond to the will of the American people.
While saving lives, a December 31, 1971, withdrawal would also conserve billions of dollars needed desperately for domestic needs. The amendment would save nearly $5 billion compared with the present withdrawal rate, if it continues. Assuming that a residual force of 50,000 were maintained in Vietnam until 1975, this amendment would save nearly $11 billion. Furthermore, if 200,000 troops are stationed in Vietnam until 1975, more than $46 billion would be saved.
The war continues to be the single greatest source of inflation in the economy. This amendment would be a decisive move in checking the rising prices and soaring interest rates which are victimizing every American.
These are the consequences of the amendment which is before you. It offers us a chance of peace, a responsible withdrawal fro-m a war which has killed our young, alienated our youth, drained our resources, and earned us the disaffection of people across the globe. The war continues, but we have a chance, an opportunity to end it and the tragedy it has brought.
And yet, some have obscured both the intent and consequences of the amendment with insinuations. and specters of disaster. Some have charged that a “bloodbath” will follow in the wake of our departure from Vietnam. If this is in fact the case, the amendment states that asylum will be provided “for Indochinese who might be physically endangered by the withdrawal of United States forces.”
Some may seek such asylum, but the facts indicate that this bloodbath argument is fallacious. It ignores the loss of life which is continuing in Vietnam today and which will continue until this war is stopped. According to casualty projections, the current withdrawal rate, should it continue, would result in 10,000 more South Vietnamese deaths, compared with the December 31, 1971, withdrawal date. If present withdrawal rates continue, leaving a residual force of 50,000 men in Vietnam, 65,000 more South Vietnamese would lose their lives in battle. And if a force of 200,000 Americans remained in Vietnam until 1975, 135,000 more South Vietnamese soldiers would be killed.
The bloodbath theory simply does not hold. By withdrawing American troops from Vietnam, both American and Vietnamese lives will be spared.
Furthermore, more than 15 months will provide both Americans and South Vietnamese to establish conditions in which repressions could be prevented.
According to the Rand Corp. report, any government developing after an American departure would have compelling reasons for not instituting a program of assassination and terror. Such a move would only further alienate and divide a people looking for a government to support.
Today the South Vietnamese Army is four to five times larger than all enemy troops in South Vietnam. Presumably, such a force is capable of preventing the deaths of the citizens whom they protect.
If they are not prepared to do so now, 15 months provides ample time to train and equip such troops. If they cannot protect the people 15 months from now, when, may I ask, will they be ready?
At the basis of this issue is the political reality that only a government which wins the allegiance of the people can prevent repression and reprisals. After all the men and money and equipment the United States has provided, Saigon must now provide for the safety and welfare of its citizens.
~ Critics of this amendment often invoke the well-worn domino theory to explain why this amendment is dangerous and ill advised. Whenever I hear someone defend U.S. policy in Vietnam with the domino theory, I recall the wise words of President Eisenhower. who said:
I never played dominos, and I never took much stock in short labels to describe a complex situation until I felt that everybody knew what the label meant.
Vietnam is a complex situation and one which simply cannot be described in the simplistic terms of the domino theory. It ought to be apparent by now that in Vietnam we are not dealing with a monolithic Communist movement sweeping across border after border.
China and Russia are not unified, and Hanoi has consistently and skillfully played one off against the other. Hanoi is an intensely nationalistic regime, though communism is its political philosophy, and its support from the people arises from its appeal to nationalistic fervor. It is little wonder that they are able to lump together the United States, France, and China as the hated invaders of their country.
The real purpose of the domino theory, as Joseph Kraft has written, is “not to describe the situation in Asia but to rationalize the Vietnamese war for American public opinion." The truth is that our continued intervention in Vietnam, and our perpetual military involvement there, are having exactly the same effect which the domino theory describes. We are driving Hanoi into greater and greater dependence upon Russia and China. Most alarming, however, is the growing disaffection among neutral countries throughout Asia who deplore and resent the potential threat of an ever-widening war in Indochina.
President Nixon has told us to talk to the dominos who would be affected by the withdrawal of American troops from Indochina, and yet former Ambassador to Japan Edwin O. Reischauer has maintained that Vietnam is the central issue undermining our critically important relationship with Japan:
The relationship between the United States and Japan, He has stated is being eroded by Vietnam strains and stresses.
A withdrawal of American troops from Vietnam and the establishment of political stability in Indochina will do more to check the expansion of communism throughout Asia than anything else we can do at this point in history.
If this domino theory were valid, if the Asian countries were concerned about the threat of communism spreading throughout Asia, then they, too, would have a stake in guaranteeing a non-Communist government in South Vietnam.
Presumably their concern would be so great that they, too, would supply men to fight in common cause with the South Vietnamese. However, the only Asians fighting in Vietnam are those paid by the United States as mercenaries. And so, it would appear that it is more important to watch what dominos do than what they say.
The fundamental lesson of Vietnam is simply this: we cannot fight wars, even those involving avowed Communists, unless the people themselves wish to resist the growth of communism in their country. This is as true for all the Southeast Asian countries as it is true for Vietnam. The test of their strength as viable governments is their ability to deal with the forces within their own countries which threaten to disrupt and disturb the government’s authority.
President Nixon himself has given explicit recognition to this fact in his Guam doctrine. American strategic interests are not at stake in Vietnam and unless the South Vietnamese people have the desire and will to establish a democratic government, we cannot provide it for them.
If we withdraw from Vietnam by the end of next year if this amendment is passed and if we declare that our commitment to South Vietnam is not unlimited, our credibility in Southeast Asia and around the world will be improved not impaired. Today we suffer the scorn, the revulsion the resentment of people throughout the world who are offended by the immorality and futility of this war. A withdrawal from Vietnam offers the United States the opportunity to re claim the moral leadership for peace in a divided world.
Some have accused the supporters of this amendment as being isolationist - of seeking to establish a fortress America. We want no isolation from the harsh realities of the world. With the massive power and influence of the United States comes great responsibility for using that power prudently and humanely. Continuing to fight a war which few wish to defend maintaining a presence in Vietnam which is resented by many Vietnamese and Americans alike has drained our resources and sapped our strength To regain our prestige influence and power in international affairs requires a prompt orderly withdrawal from the conflict During recent weeks those who have opposed the amendment have charged that our amendment would represent a loyal to America to vote for the preservation of American lives. Is it wrong to vote for a withdrawal from a war in which victory is not the goal?
The issue I repeat again is not one of withdrawal or no withdrawal. Even the President is committed to the extrication of some American troops from Vietnam. The issue is not one of victory or defeat, success or surrender - the administration is pursuing a policy to reduce our stake in the war. This amendment simply withdraws all American troops from participating in the conflict we cannot win or lose this war, only the South Vietnamese can do that.
For years we have provided men and materiel aims and aid to the South Vietnamese and I submit that it is now reasonable to say that 15 months from now we will no longer sacrifice American lives. We have done our best. We have given our best to suffer and die in Vietnam. Our policy in Vietnam has never been total victory. Instead - as President Nixon stated on July 1, 1970 - a just peace in Vietnam means –
Simply the right of the people of South Vietnam to determine their own future without having us impose our will upon them, or the North Vietnamese, or anybody else outside impose their will upon them.
Then the President asked -
When we look at that limited objective I am sure some would say well is that really worth it? Is that worth the efforts of all these Americans lighting in Vietnam the lives that have been lost?
That is a disturbing question; it is agonizing indeed to ask whether the suffering and pain and death of this war have any meaning, pulpose, or significance. There are those who have said and will continue to say that those lives were lost in vain. But such a judgment is filled with ambiguities which only history will make more clear for us to understand.
I will not say that the deaths of 43,000 Americans have no meaning. But I do say this. We have tried to strengthen the South Vietnamese Government; we have provided aid to the people; during the next 15 months we will provide more funds and support to create a stable society and open the door to peace. But they must make it on their own. Let us give the South Vietnamese, strengthened by our assistance and support, the freedom to choose their own future, to make their own peace.
Let there be no mistake. This amendment is not peace at any price; it is not cut and run; it is not an immediate, precipitate Withdrawal. Rather, this amendment provides for a rational, safe, orderly withdrawal of all American troops more than 1 year from now. It preserves all the constitutional powers of the President as Commander in Chief; it reasserts congressional responsibility for the conduct of the war; it offers a hope for the achievement of our policy objectives; it offers us and the Vietnamese people the possibility of peace.
By passing this amendment the Congress will declare clearly its intention to participate in the judgments which guide the course of the war in Vietnam.
Respect for our Constitution and reverence for rule by law and not men demand that the Congress accept this responsibility for the tragic and prolonged conflict in Southeast Asia.
The constitutional balance between Congress and the President for conducting the war must be reestablished. In the wisdom of the framers of the Constitution, the power of the Executive to wage war was checked by the Congress. As Lincoln clearly saw more than a century ago:
The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons: Kings had always been involving and imperishing their people in wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people was the object. This our convention understood to be the most oppressive of all kingly oppressions and they resolved to so frame the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing oppression upon us.
This is not Nixon’s war; it was not Johnson's war; it should be seen as America’s war. This is your war-it is mine. We must not shirk our constitutional responsibility; we must not allow these decisions _to be borne alone by the President. The responsibility for waging a war is too great a burden for any one man to bear; Congress must make its own judgments, reach ,its own conclusions, and struggle toward its own decisions. Together, sometimes in concord, sometimes in disagreement, the Congress and the President will express the will of the people and govern our Nation wisely.
This amendment will give us the opportunity to create that constitutional balance and will set the method by which the legislative and executive branches together can exercise their shared responsibilities. We may not be able to withdraw all American troops from Indochina by the end of 1971; then the President has the option of extending this time, in order to insure the safety of the troops, by 60 days. Furthermore, if the President believes it is necessary to maintain troops beyond December 31, 1971, he need only come to the Congress and explain Why it is necessary to maintain them there, setting a deadline for their withdrawal for the Congress to approve. South Vietnam and other countries may need additional aid after 1971;
such aid would simply require congressional authorization. Through the established legislative procedures, the need and necessity of future involvement in Indochina can be studied and determined under the provisions of this amendment.
This amendment stipulates a constitutionally proper means of sharing responsibility for the conduct of the war with the Executive and for achieving a safe, orderly, rational Withdrawal from Vietnam. The time has come for the Congress no-t only to debate, to discuss, and to agonize with the country over this war, but to use its best wisdom and exercise its inherent responsibility to enable an honorable resolution of our tragic involvement in this conflict.
The conflict in South Vietnam must cease; it has brutalized our people and created strife and enmity between neighbors. More than 50 years ago, during the First World War, Walter Lippmann observed:
There is in America today the beginning of that very military arrogance which We are being told this war is being fought to abolish. It shows itself in contempt for all efforts toward peace, in programs of armament which are. vistas of a nightmare, in denunciation of the virtues that make a free and tolerant people, in a hatred of other points of view, in the attempt to haze and ostracize those who have different opinions, and in the assertion of a brittle, touchy impatience at the thought that anything can be adjusted without slamming the table or rattling the windows.
Which position requires courage and which requires nothing but the Willingness to drift with the current . . .? At a dinner table, in a drawing room, on the stump, in the Senate, the easy attitude is to follow the loudest declaration, to go with, and not against, the violence of the tribe. It usually involves no risk, and it is almost a cheap way to approval.
Yet there is no guarantee that the fiber of a people is sound because no one appears who is willing to risk the sneers of the angriest. It may be that the people who are ready to sacrifice popularity, to face ridicule, to stand out for reason and adjustment, are the people who really have the bravery that freedom requires.
Those words might have been written today. We need the bravery that freedom requires, to preserve human life, to make our Government sensitive to a people tired of war, to move our country toward peace. This amendment offers us that opportunity.
The war continues. But it need not continue indefinitely. We are not powerless; we are not without responsibility.
Let us take our responsibility and pass this amendment to withdraw our troops orderly and safely.
WASHINGTON POST ENDORSES AMENDMENT TO END THE WAR
Mr. President, it was with a feeling approaching unalloyed pleasure that I read this mornings Washington Post to discover that, at long last, the amendment to end the War, sponsored by 25 U.S. Senators, has found favor in the sight of the editorialists of that fine newspaper.
This demonstrates a laudable openness of mind and a willingness to listen to the reasonableness of the proponents of the amendment, who have argued for setting. a definite timetable for the withdrawal of our troops from Vietnam, and a proper regard for the constitutional responsibilities of the Congress.
I ask unanimous consent to have the editorial printed in the RECORD, and should like to express my appreciation to the Washington Post editors for their support. I am hopeful that it will be read and taken into consideration by Members of Congress who are yet to be convinced of the merit of the amendment.
There being no objection, the editorial was ordered to be printed in the RECORD, as follows:
A NATIONAL POLICY TO END THE WAR
The Senate has an opportunity during the next few days to write a rational and responsible policy for ending the war in Vietnam.
For many months the Senate has been itching to reverse its 1964 endorsement of a blank check to President Johnson to initiate and carry on that war. It adopted the Fulbright resolution designed to give Congress a. voice in future national commitments, and a few weeks ago it attempted to forbid widening of the War to Cambodia through the Cooper-Church amendment, although the language got pretty muddy before the final action came and the House would have none of it. New the Senate has a chance to go on record for an orderly and timely liquidation--an objective that is earnestly sought by an overwhelming majority of the American people.
This issue has been distorted in the past by the simplistic manner in which some senators sought to hasten the Withdrawal from Vietnam. A scuttle-and-run policy was said to be the only alternative to a declaration of War. Widespread opposition to any action by Congress on the War was aroused by the argument that it could be, and should be, cut off by a snap of the congressional fingers.
As the issue is now being debated in the Senate, however, it assumes a very different posture. No longer is there any effort to say that American troops must be out of Vietnam Within six months. In its present form (the text is presented, for the record, elsewhere on this page today) the amendment to the military procurement bill originally ordered by Senators McGovern and Hatfield would now require the Withdrawal of American armed forces by Dec. 31, 1971-leaving a liquidation period of 16 months. If any emergency should arise, the President would be authorized to extend this period by 60 days, and if that did not allow enough time for safe evacuation of Southeast Asia the President would so report to Congress within 10 days so that Congress could authorize a further extension.
Rigidity has thus given way to flexibility.
As reshaped by the Foreign Relations Committee, this is quite a different proposition, which would have the great virtue of enacting a national policy for termination of the war without putting the President into a straitjacket. In effect Congress would enact the President’s withdrawal formula as a sound national objective, without saying that it would have to be carried out in any and all circumstances. This achievement of firmness in the statement of a. national policy, along with elbow-room in actually carrying it out, is a tribute to the good judgment of all those who have contributed to it.
Up to now, the administration has remained in opposition to any congressional action in this sphere. In part this may be attribute to the sound objections raised, against earlier versions of the McGovern-Hatfield amendment. No doubt it also reflects an automatic White House preference for a free hand. In this case, however, the White House as well as the country has an enormous interest in having the Congress on record for termination of the war in an orderly and responsible fashion. If the outcome should turn sour-by no means a remote possibility-it would be much better to have the President and Congress jointly responsible.
In our view, the White House could well regard this proposal before the Senate as a fortuitous opportunity to put Congress on record in favor of the Nixon Withdrawal policy or something close to it. The requirement that our Vietnam troop-level be reduced to 280,000 men by next April 30 and that the remaining forces be brought home by the end of next year is specifically recognized in the language of the amendment as a reflection of the Presidents own statements. Unless the President wishes to deviate from this withdrawal policy, there are no compelling reasons why he should welcome a congressional reaffirmation of it.
The President has, to be sure, opposed past efforts to set a date for the windup of the Vietnamese affair. He has feared that the fixing of a d-ate would take pressure oil? the North Vietnamese to negotiate an end of the war. But if Congress fixes a. date which the President could postpone or even eliminate with the consent of Congress, when the time came, the North Vietnamese would, as the Foreign Relations staff memorandum notes, have no assurance that mere stalling would redound to their advantage.
In any event, it see-ms to us that the advantages of having a congressional withdrawal policy on the books greatly outweigh any disadvantages that might be encountered at the negotiating table. Such legislation would put the President under pressure to carry out the evacuation at the earliest feasible date. It would put our military leaders-and our diplomats, as Well-on notice that the national policy is irreversible.
Saigon also would have a clearer understanding of what the score is and would be able to adjust its policies accordingly. So long as there is hope that the President may change his mind under pressure the Thieu government is more likely to avoid the hard decisions that are essential to a future for South Vietnam without American manpower for its defense.
Behind all the arguments for and against this amendment is the even more vital tact that the Senate is making a bid to get back into the policy-making arena in regard to war and peace. We think the President should welcome that effort as a bed-rock imperative of American democracy. If the present amendment is not satisfactory to the administration in all particulars, amendments can always be suggested. But it would be tragically shortsighted for the administration to take an arbitrary stand against congressional action designed to underscore and give ,congressional support for the Presidents own policy.
Orderly termination of the war as soon as feasible ought to be the joint policy of the two political branches, and it is doubtful that there will be a better opportunity than the present to make it so.
Mr. MONDALE. Mr. President, the debate we begin today marks a singular moment in the history of the Senate.
As so often when decisions in this Chamber are most grave, the issue itself is most clear. The Hatfield-McGovern amendment represents, as many of my distinguished colleagues have pointed out, a reassertion of congressional authority in the fateful choices of war and peace-a reassertion so plainly required by the Constitution and so long overdue.
But beyond the momentous question of the balance of powers in our Government, the purpose of this amendment is still more simple and fundamental.
My colleagues and I rise today to stop at last the killing and maiming of Americans in Vietnam.
The historic merit of this amendment, Mr. President, is the unmistakable message it would carry from the Congress to the Nation and the world.
To the American people, unanimous in their yearning for peace, it would affirm that the years of illusion and misdirection and terrible sacrifice in this war are finally coming to an end.
It would express that large measure of the public will, particularly among our young, for a rapid and total withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Moreover, it is a special strength of the present amendment that it has been expanded to meet also the deep and legitimate concern of many Americans that withdrawal could mean the exposure of our dwindling forces to enemy attack. There can be no. real argument that this legislation somehow ties the President’s hands in defending our 'men in Vietnam. On the contrary, by providing the President explicit authority to defend our forces as he judges necessary to secure our withdrawal, this amendment would bring our men home safely and honorably as well as soon.
I should point out in particular, Mr. President, that the amendment also provides full authority to the President to, do all he can to secure the release of our prisoners of war in North and South Vietnam. The barbaric treatment of those men and the anguish of their loved ones here at home is an enormous tragedy of this war. The Hatfield-McGovern amendment recognizes the constant obligation of the Congress as well as the Executive to work toward the liberation of our men as rapidly as possible.
Yet this act of Congress would speak not only to the hopes of America. Its message would be equally clear to friend and foe in Vietnam.
To South Vietnam, whose responsibilities we have borne too long, we would be serving fair notice that finally - after the hollow rhetoric of two administrations, Asian boys are indeed going to have to fight Asian wars.
The lessons of the last 16 years are vivid. Nations-much as men-are stifled by patronage and strengthened by challenge. If the Army of Vietnam is to be truly effective, if the democratic elements of the country are ever to pull themselves together, if an independent nation is in fact to be built in South Vietnam, the best incentive we can provide is the sure knowledge that the time has come for them to shoulder the primary responsibility of their own defense. To Hanoi, this amendment also conveys a challenge and an incentive which might well be decisive in reaching a negotiated settlement.
For months, the North Vietnamese and their supporters have been telling us that the first imperative of successful negotiations, and the key to departure of their own troops from South Vietnam, would be a specific commitment to the withdrawal of U.S. forces. This amendment calls that hand for all the world to see.
Nor can Hanoi find ready advantage in this amendment for their own position on the ground. To lie and wait insures them nothing when the President, with consent of the Congress, can adjust our withdrawal to meet any contingency.
And how confidently can Hanoi ignore a settlement now when the notice of our withdrawal is likely to galvanize the non-Communist forces of South Vietnam as never before? The shrewd men in Hanoi could well conclude that the price of a settlement today would be less than what they might pay for the risky months of waiting.
The administration has often argued that uncertainty is the greatest strength of its policy-and that this amendment will eliminate that tactic.
Indeed it will, Mr. President, and that is perhaps the ultimate virtue of the amendment. For the cost of calculated obscurity in our Vietnam policy has been far too high. »
A Hanoi uncertain of our objectives has been intransigent at the conference table and unremitting on the battlefields.
A Saigon uncertain of our policy has been slow to gather the strength, as it must, to stand on its own feet. And most important, an America uncertain of our course has been as tragically and dangerously divided as at any moment since the Civil War.
President Nixon has told us again and again that the heart of the matter is not whether we end this war, but how we end it.
And that is true. We have a clear choice of paths to follow. We can continue the equivocation, which passes for diplomacy, the improvisation which passes for a plan, the bluff and lashing out-as in Cambodia-which passes for strength and manly purpose. Or we can make good on the pledge for peace we all avow. We can undertake a truly national policy to end this war.
That alone will speed the return of our men held prisoners. That alone will flush out an elusive enemy. That alone will insure our accomplishments in Vietnam. That alone will redeem the pledge made by President Nixon in his campaign to bring America together.
So what we are about in this legislation, Mr. President is nothing less than a test of the long-professed commitment of the Congress and Executive alike.
We face the choice squarely. The Senate can share with the President the awesome burden of making peace with Vietnam and ourselves. Or we can spurn once more our constitutional obligation.
No more fateful choice has confronted the Members of this body.