A peaceful settlement of the Vietnam war requires some initial conception of a reasonable bargaining position for both sides. In my judgment, the United States has not sufficiently shown that it understands or is prepared to negotiate on such a basis.
Our continuing refusal to recognize the Vietcong as a formal participant in a peace settlement underscores our unreasonableness. It implies that the Saigon regime is the only legitimate political elite in South Vietnam, whereas the claims of the NLF to both autonomy and legitimacy are at least as good as, and probably considerably better than, those of Saigon. To say that Hanoi alone represents “the other side” is to insist upon the fiction that there is no genuine civi...
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