thumbnail of U.S. foreign policy: Demands of the next; Projections: Asia
Hide -
This transcript was received from a third party and/or generated by a computer. Its accuracy has not been verified. If this transcript has significant errors that should be corrected, let us know, so we can add it to FIX IT+.
The other course of action which is apparently the one still being pursued. Is that we've got to hold on and push on. For takes another 100000 man another 200000. We've got to reach or even go on from there and continue to seek a military resolution. This is. Now the burden. Of finding the path that extrication believe me his family. One cannot talk lightly of bugging out simply packing up and leaving. This would even be logistically impossible as well as politically and morally impossible. So that somehow getting into a position of being able then to negotiate a withdrawal would be a long and difficult process and one to which there are no
real easy answers. By the same token the other course of action requires those who advocated to spell out that scenario too. Does it mean that now that everybody acknowledges apparently that we should not have been in here in the first place and those who say our we have an hour that way here we've got to move on with it. Does this mean another hundred thousand and another 200000. Are we to believe whatever anybody tells us will be the effect of sending another 200000 men. This is when the boys will be home by next Christmas. Does it mean not another half million men but another million man. Simply to occupy the territory and try to hold every square mile of it.
Where would this take it. Does it mean that since we have proven in Vietnam that we cannot successfully fight a so-called limited war. And I don't know whether seventy thousand dead is a limited war that we've got to try to fight some more extended war that we're better able to fight that our kind of armament weapon training can enable us to fight more successfully and if so what kind and where. Those who advocate carrying on. Terms of whatever rationale I still want to cling to whether it's assuring self-determination taining China and suring a wall of safety for the other countries of Southeast Asia by that means I have to spell out what it involves. And we are going to have to decide. Whether we are really
involved in the next 10 years. In Asia. Upon a course of action that will require a permanent massive commitment of American military forces on the ground. And whether the shape of the new dispensation in Asia will turn out to be the effort to maintain such a Pax Americana. Or whether we are going to try to move back to a course of action which will take into account that the Asian transformation has got a long way to go. That even communist victories in the Southeast Asian peninsula. Unpleasant and unsatisfactorily is they may be from our point of view are not catastrophic much less apocalyptic in terms of our
national that we don't live any longer in the era of a monolithic communist empire that just as Chinese chauvinist nationalism guaranteed the split of the Sino-Soviet alliance and partnership in the communist world a communist Vietnam believe me. Would have as one of its primary tenants ad just as deeply have the determination not to be dominated by the Chinese. There's nothing more deeply rooted in Vietnamese nationalism than the fear and mistrust of the Chinese going way back to the time of the first Chinese imperial dominance of the Vietnam seven or eight hundred years ago. And there's no reason to assume in any automatic simplistic fashion that a communist Vietnam automatically means the extension of Chinese communist. There's no reason to
assume that Chinese Communist expansionism is going to take the form of armies crossing the Himalayas. This is nightmare thinking. It's not impossible to envisage this in the decades to come. Believe me I'm not trying to minimize the realities and dangers of potential Chinese expansionism. What I am trying to say is that we cannot act now. As though every little dangerous flip flop in any situation a small country in Southeast Asia requires us to pull the trigger. That we've got to step back from and let some of it run its course so that we can expend our resources in places where there is more of a chance to help create by judicious aid the kind of political strength kind of development
which might help ensure the development of a politics that will shape pieces of that world more in the manner that we think we can live more happily than with countries. And all of this would be imperative enough in my judgment in terms of a choice even if we were secure ourselves in the basis of our action as a world power. But all of this is occurring at a time when there has come to maturity in the American society its own most mobile crisis since the Civil War. The coming together of the crisis of deepening poverty in the face of whitening after
the crisis of asphyxiating cities that is rightfully themselves through their failure to become places for a decent humane existence and overarching all of it. The long postponed long swept under the rug crisis of the place of the right and in this open free man society coming to a head and now demanding that we turn our resources I think in our efforts. To the task of somehow resolving. These formidable accumulated problems on our route to becoming the kind of society we've always said we were all wanted to be. And mind you there is no factor in our posture as a world power nor factor in our impact on any situation anywhere in the
world. That is of greater or more central importance than the nature and quality of our own society. If there is any meaning to our effort to maintain ourselves means every communist authoritarianism it is because we represent a model of a different kind in the building of a different sort of more humane human society. And if we don't represent I don't know why it matters who dominates Southeast Asia and if we ever are. Our own motto crisis at home to degenerate to the point where we turn into a garrison society creating some new form of a party. And if we in this generation put an end to or at least put a big block on the fulfillment of the American dream
then let's not be too concerned about the terms. What happens then in the power struggle because then we can go gaily on trying to become a superpower dominate whatever we can dominate use force. And no longer pretend that anything we're doing has anything to do with freedom of people or humane existence. Open Society the alternatives over this next decade starting with what we do in the next 10 months. Live here. You know I've just been on a holiday in Mexico and for the first time in my life and I've lived travelled in many many places I had the experience of being envious of people of another country in another
culture. I envied them. Yes more or less I envied them what they did not have to be preoccupied with. I envied them their ability to go on living as though nothing really mortal were occurring in a museum in Mexico City devoted in part to the history of Mexican struggle for freedom and in a section of that exhibit in the Mexican War the American invasion of Mexico in 1847 next to one quote from Abraham Lincoln who expressed his opposition to that was a young congressman in 1846 was another quote from Thomas calling him I believe was a United States senator. Time.
I've read translated it here from the Spanish so I may be doing some injustice to Mr. Cohen's prose. But here's what it said. I have felt myself oppressed by melancholy presentments of coming evil and not a few times by the conviction that each step that we take in this unjust war can be the last of our life that each chapter that we write with Mexican blood can be the end of the volume of our history as a free people. Now one can have a variety of thoughts standing reading a thing like that on a wall in a museum in Mexico. You can think that well maybe the lesson is that this too shall pass as everything dies. The major consequence of our unjust war in Mexico I suppose might think of it in
terms of retribution could be that we have the states of Texas and California in the union. But the essential power grabbing immorality of that war against Mexico became part of the accumulated but of the half step forward eight steps backward kind of process by which we have moved toward the ideal of building a more humane human society. Yes we can say that the next step then did not end. History is a free people. We went on into the convulsive bloodletting of the Civil War to try to resolve the gross contradiction of slavery and a free man society.
We saw that only in the most formal sense. We carry and have carried the same kind of burden forward with us until now. And I suppose that one has to get along with a sense of this too shall pass. A powerful and driving need to see that in this constant flux and push and pull in ever greater issues ever more costly consequences ever more painful die lemmas ever more dangerous circumstance that we try to keep on pushing in a direction that will make our rationale for ourselves with more and not less. And I think that in this year a decision 968 policy decisions political decisions.
We really as a people have to try to get hold of this complex mess and say we've got to decide and make a few felt if we made a mistake we don't throw more blood after all we have to cut our losses and take the consequences we take. It's going to take more honor and more guts to do that. Than to do what we apparently asked to go on doing more of same. Soldiers that we have sent to Vietnam have one great honor and glory in paying the price trying to fight a war which they are unequipped to fight in a situation in which they have no chance of prevailing. And when we speak of an honorable settlement instead of translating honor into that kind of refuge of the scoundrels and that kind of patriotism
always and let's try to explore the possibilities of on the other involving finally coming to our senses. Harold Isaacs speaking on the general topic projections Asia Professor Isaacson responded to questions from his audience beginning with the first one since we cannot seem to militarily a result of the Vietnam War. What can we do when our relationships with other nations in Southeast Asia to prevent the kind of problems we now have in Vietnam. Well I'm afraid I can't accept your disagreement with the first point. We could resolve any situation militarily in about three seconds. We are in the position I'm afraid
of the punch drunk heavyweight whose only blow was a haymaker. We could wipe this unhappy little place off the map. Solve it that way. I'm not quite sure let me say I don't see very clearly what the productive consequences of that would be. Even if it did not lead to a return of the complement from other sources. But short of that short of nuclear holocaust I'm afraid your proposition has no basis. I'm afraid that we could not land armies anywhere in Asia and impose an effective settlement of any local situation much less create a politics that could work
if we haven't learned that by now. And if the situation hasn't dictated that by now then there is no such thing as learning anything from from experience. In terms of what we can do now this is the old refrain that I have trying to answer that question for 25 years now and I don't mean to suggest for a single moment the United States hasn't put forth massive efforts to try to do exactly that. I guess the figure American he certainly in India now it must be somewhere between three and four billion dollars to other countries we have extended all kinds of efforts to assist and encourage and effective development. Two things about this one up to and certainly through the darkest period this was invariably linked with military commitments that tended to vitiate a good deal of the aid
and a good deal of the money went into military. And this weekend much of its impact. But number two and much more serious and something that can never be blinked away in this. Is that it's one thing to give aid. It's another thing that I have eat affectively use in these societies there are the most immense kind of obstacles in the path of an affective movement toward a change and develop in a country like India. Staggering under the burden of an enormous population growing by leaps and bounds staggering even more under the weight and burden of centuries of backwardness and the survival of a culture which is in itself
an obstacle in the path of modernization. Nothing happens easily or quickly. And India with all its difficulties has put forth massive efforts in the last 20 years which would look much more impressive if they did not always have to be weighed against the enormity of the rest of the problem of India to say nothing of the constantly growing population. But it is precisely in that direction finding the ways to continue to lend whatever assistance we can lend economically politically and in the most limited way militarily to countries that are still attempting to arrive at a path of development along in the direction of Democratic politics that we can hope to achieve some kind of more useful effect.
This is no easy course in Southeast Asia. There is no excess supply of democratic political vitality and it's not a toll sure. In a country like Malaysia which has such promising potential as a first order of business is for the resolution of the tension and hostility between the almost equal numbers of Malaya and Chinese who believe in that with sheaves some kind of a balance of shared first class citizenship taking in both the segments of the population that will give it a chance. Indonesia is a country in the most unimaginable for journalists and political and economic so that this presents enormous problems but by the same token neither isn't necessary to imagine the Chinese hordes sweeping down and taking all this over
in the coming years we can afford to live with it and run with it and do what we can in relation to it and see how far we can get with it without again committing ourselves ever to the kind of military adventure that we've been in. Professor Isaacs was next asked to comment on the theory of New York Times columnist Harrison Salisbury. Mr. Salisbury's theory involves a neutral Southeast Asia used as a bridge towards communist China. Well I've been many such proposals for an attempt to create a kind of a neutralize Southeast Asia. And this would require ultimately some kind of struck a balance of power between China and the United States. And I suppose that optimistically we can say we can try to come to something like that.
This will take a long time. At the present time we are you know have put ourselves in the extremely an enviable position. Of having our military intervention become now the symbol and source of our defense if you will of the security of these very weak states of Assad. I'd love to entertain a question about Japan because in our concentration on these crucial matters that affect us you know it tends to become a lot if you ever see that map of the United States from a Bostonians point of view. Have you ever seen that they chose Cape Cod in Massachusetts the whole curtain and the whole rest of the United States about the size of that last section over there. So I haven't been able to say much about Japan and I would love to entertain a question about Japan.
Anybody got a question about Japan. Yes. Yeah. Japan is the other point of this parallelogram of forces shaping itself in this painful way of Asia and Japan is you know having made its newly successful shoestring challenge to become masters of Asia suffered this crushing defeat hands of American arms and then proceeded the first years with heavy American aid very quickly by the impetus of its own enormous energy. To embark upon a remarkable economic reconstruction to the point where it's now about to become the third industrial nation in the world the United States and some of them
and Japan is still basically leaden prospectively will continue to be led by sort of conservative liberal type of forces which would continue to see the basic Japanese interests as being tied up with the restraints of China not to be calm under any circumstances swallowed up by China or to four undefended under the under the danger of Chinese atomic bombs so that there is a kind of a natural confluence of interests between the United States and Japan now in this empire which has replaced what for 50 years was the natural Japanese-American rivalry for power in place in the Pacific Ocean. And obviously Japan will be a major factor. Just really economically politically militarily in creating the new balances in China and this
triangulation of Japan the Soviet Union and China and make a parallelogram out of it putting the United States. You know the point will remain the principle of basic content of the unfolding of power relations in Asia too and to a far more critical extent over the coming years than anything that takes place in Southeast Asia or even for that matter in India. And it is to our most in our most serious and fundamental interests to see that this common interests that we have with Japan and the Soviet Union in minimizing China's capacity to do damage be maintained and served by every active policy and in some ways one of the most insane aspects of our Vietnam adventure.
Is its capacity to if not resign meant at least to somebody's attenuate the Sino-Soviet conflict. When we started raining bombs down on the north remember we did it on a day when Chris Egan was visiting in Hanoi and the nightmare vision one had of this immediately thrusting Peking and Moscow back together in common support of Hanoi was one that was pretty terrible to bear for a day or two when it became clear that not even this could could even begin to heal the deep rift between those two capitals one could breathe a little bit more easily. But this is the main essence of the relationships that are unfolding and we must get back to a position where we can ploy and counter ploy and that kind of
power game without expending ourselves the way we are in a bootlace and nonproductive land war in Southeast Asia. This has been the fourth in a series of seven programs about United States foreign policy entitled demands of the next decade. Our guest today was Harold Isaacs professor of political science at MIT a noted journalist in reporting foreign affairs. He spoke and responded to questions on the general subject of projections Asia. This program series is based on presentations from the foreign policy associations traveling foreign policy conference. These programs are designed to stimulate the thinking of an informed American public about some of the issues to be faced by our nation during the coming decade. Today's program was presented in
cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Oregon. The only good great decisions Council the Foreign Policy Association and TIME magazine this has been a public affairs presentation of Oregon educational broadcasting. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
U.S. foreign policy: Demands of the next
Projections: Asia
Producing Organization
KOAC (Radio station : Corvallis, Or.)
Oregon State University
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
If you have more information about this item than what is given here, or if you have concerns about this record, we want to know! Contact us, indicating the AAPB ID (cpb-aacip/500-sn01411c).
Series Description
For series info, see Item 3721. This prog.: Projections: Asia. Harold Isaacs, MIT, looks at Vietnam and discusses other Asian countries.
Global Affairs
Public Affairs
Media type
Embed Code
Copy and paste this HTML to include AAPB content on your blog or webpage.
Producing Organization: KOAC (Radio station : Corvallis, Or.)
Producing Organization: Oregon State University
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-41-4 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:30:08
If you have a copy of this asset and would like us to add it to our catalog, please contact us.
Chicago: “U.S. foreign policy: Demands of the next; Projections: Asia,” 1968-09-27, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “U.S. foreign policy: Demands of the next; Projections: Asia.” 1968-09-27. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
APA: U.S. foreign policy: Demands of the next; Projections: Asia. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from