Created: 9/11/1967

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Toe US Role in







some stage In cost debater, about the Vietnamlike the following emerge: What would it actuallythe US if it failed to achieve its stated objectives laour vital Interests in fact involved? Would abandonment of

the effort really generate other serious dangers? Naturally, those who oppose the war tend to minimize tbe costs of failures, while thoae who support the var point ominously to far-reaching negative effects which they allege would followetback. This aspect of the Vietnam argument has lacked clear and detailed definition on both aides, even though it is crucial to the Why and Wherefore of our whole involvement there.

wo are attempting in this paperto provideprecision about the probable costs, for Americaninterestshole, of an unfavorable outcome inis not assumed in this inquiry tbat such an outcome isit has been demonstrated, in fact, thot the Coramunists







via If the US is determined to prevent it. But the question of vast It would Bean far the US if Its own objectIres are not achieved Is relevant and fair. Ihe debate itself shows tbe needounder basis by which to measure tha coats of an unfavorable outcome against the exertions which would presumably still be required toavorable one.

3. What we mean by an "unfavorable outcome" needs to be defined with some realism. We are not discussing ths entirely implausible hypothesisolitical-military collapse, say, the precipitate withdrawal of American forces or sweeping political cooceasloni tantamount to granting Hanoi outright achievement of Its aims la the South. It seeas realistic to believe, given the present scale of US involvement and the sacrifices already made, that thla government wouldettlement short of its alms onlyeries of steps involving gradual adjustment of our


present political-military posture. Apart from the domestic political pressures that vould cause this to be so, the very concern to minimise unfavorable effects on other relationships and on tha American world position would argue strongly forourse.

U. We assume, therefore, that an outcome favorablo to the Communists would ccmte about as the resultrocess of negotiation

probably fairly prolonged. esulting political settlement, whether or not it looked at firstould io the end lead to the establishment of Ccemmist power in South Vietnam. Insofar as the broader repercussions of thla development areritical variable would be the time tbe process took. If It tookears, obviously the significance of US acceptance ofettlement would tend to be lost In the now context produced by interim events. Me are assuming for purposes of this discussion that the period would be short enough to make it impossible to blur the fact that American policy had meterious reverse; it vould appear In fact thst the US had deliberatelyaulty settlement rather than pay the price of trying longer to avert it. Thisealistic assumption for two reasons: the OMsaunists would probably try tohaky settlement to early advantage ande little concerned to delay their triumphong period in order to save face for the USj and, tho divided non-Cawuniet political forces In South Vietnam, If left to their own devices underettlement, vould probably not be able to put up effective political resistance for very long.

5. If all this vent off peacefully, it would constitute tho best rather than the worst case, oruccessful US effort

to achieve the best case,ecision to place priority on ending hostilities rather thaa on achieveaent ot the sins ve havo so far pursued. It ls possiblef however, that events would be precipitated Inanner that the outccsacthe taking of power by the Communistswould emerge very rapidly and Inof breakdown and disorder on tho nna-Ccmmnlrt side. Jhere couldpectacle of panic flight froa the country, euicidnl reslBtanoo by Isolated groups, and Ccntaunlst terror and vengeance. Clearly, If this voret case came about, the discredit the US would earn, vhich would be seen by many as not merely political but also as moral discredit, would be far greater. Hie following discussionegotiated settlement applied In reasonably orderly circumstances, but which nevertheless works out to Ccraainlflt advantageelatively brief period,ear or so.


6. Viewed purely as on Intellectual problem, tbe question posed can havo no complete and wholly eat io factory answer. One is asked toingle event, the scenario and context for which cannot be described in detail, and to project its consequences for subsequent developiaonta on the world scenehole. In fact.

no single ovont, even ono as important as this one, can befor all subsequent developments. In any case, it is impossible to disentangle tbe effectsingle event frcn the whole cootl nuin of interacting forces| ccsnTeasatory motions of unforeseeable nagnltude, or even quite unrelated developraeotB, vould cm Into play to alter the sua of Interactions. Only historians, after the fact, can have tbe satisfaction of tracing back orderly chains of causation. Ine view forward is always both hasy and kaleidoscopic! those who havo to act oniew can have no certainties but must make choices on what appears at the moment to be tho margin of advantage.

If it la Impossible to list and measure all the forces which would be brought into play by the event assumed, it nay nevertheless be possible to state acme general propositions which would tend to govern the directions in which events might move. Such propositions can at least suggest how to think about tho Issues posed, those stated in the lisnedlataly following persgraphs will be applied later In the paper in attempting to forecast developments affecting ecae concrete situations and relationships.

lhe failure of American policy in Vietnam would have repercussions worldwide; It cannot be thought of merelyocal or evenegional event. This is so, not only because world

attention haa been*so intensively focussod on the drama of Vietnam for so long, but oven more importantly, because the US is Involved and itrimary power factororld scale.

would inevitablyeappraisal in manythe real weight and reach of US pover. ense,politics is the sum of calculations made by all thethe power and Intentions of all others. Since thebeen viewed as the most powerful actor in the game, allfeel obliged to reconsider their views of US power, asof the will and wisdco of those who wield it.

this should happen at alleasure ofof the event which occasions it. The respect ofUS power the uses to which It is put is one of tbeblocks for such order and security as obtain in theit were removes free this inherently fragile structure, many

unsettling WlM perhaps dangerous consequences would follow. Those who are responsible for the conduct of American policy cannot in prudence afford to treat thla consideration lightly.

11. me contingency we are discussing in this paper wouldather dramatic demonstration that there ore certain limits on USiscovery which would be unexpected for many.

dl3concertina for acme, and encouraging to others. To be sure, no one doubts that the US could utterly destroy North Vietnam with nuclear weapons, if it chose to do so. Most vould probably agree that the UB could achieve Its objectives by leas drastic methods. If It persisted Long enough and paid the cost. But the compelling proposition emerging from the situation vould be that the US, acting within the constraints imposed by its traditions and public attitudes, cannotevolutionary movement which islarge, dedicated, competent, and weU-supported. arrow sense, this means more simply that the structure of US military power is Ill-suited to cope with guerrilla warfare wagedetermined, resourceful, and politically astute opponent. This Isovel discovery. It has long been suspected. What our postulated situation would do is to reveal it dramatically.

12. On the other hand, the contingency we are discussing in this paper does noteversal of power relations, of the sort that occurred for example, with the defeat of Germany In World War H. The case in question is rather oneetbackery great power whose essential strength would remain unimpaired. Historically, great powers have repeatedly absorbed setbackspermanent diminution of the role which they subsequently played.

Bveryooe acknovLed&oa toot the USSR haeumber of major setbacks In the lastears, but few would argue thot its power bulks any ths leas foral dabtoday. Similarly, the view held by others of US power would probably be affected relatively and temporarily, though it is not possible to say with certainty whether new complications and dangers might not be set in train byetback.

13. Moreover, the reappraisals of the US mtide by others would not be uniform; they would be heavily conditioned by the particular perspectives, expectations, and Interests of different countries. The fears of scex* would rise because they vouldthat US poweress reliable support to their security than they had supposed. Others would be reassured because they would believe that US power was being used with greaterand concern for the general peace than they had thought. Some wouldendency for the US to vithdrov generally froa involvement with the security and development of other areas. Others would rejoice because they would expect the US toetter-balanced concern for other parts of the world than southeast Asia, and still others because they would hope that US resources saved by peace in Vietnam vould be applied elsewhere.

lh. The reappraisals would also be tentative. Few would conclude toot tho Vietnam episodeirm fix for tho future on the content and direction of US policy. Almost all would recognise that, while Vietnam indicated something about the limits of os power and especially about lta relevance to that particular situation, tbe power of the UB vould reamia the weightiest single factor in world politics. The Indications that the US gave in subsequent pronouncement, and action of how It Intended to use its power vould Increasingly over time efface the impact of the Vietnamese affair. It would not hove permanent effect on how others viewed this country since the reappraisal of power relations Is aprocess.

15. imilar teatativeaess would affect the attitudes of states whicharticular Interest because of US security commitments to them, we think there Is none which would withdraw forthwith from its security relationship with the US because of an unfavorable outcome In Vietnam. Some might conaider whether they ought not to allow such ties to dissolve and moveore neutral stance. Some might even draw the lesson that the US would in future be more exacting of reciprocal performance from its alliance partners. Probably all vould decide to await further evidence beforeefinitive reading of US Intentions,

evidence in the form of reassurances or actions bearing directly on themselves.rend toward deeoneration of some, alliance relationships Is one of the risks that would bo involved.

16. Finally one general proposition towers over all the above in importance; itactor which probably would have more decisive effect on the net result thaa any other. Tnls is the appraisal oaae by the US itselfits leaders and goneral opinionof the moaning of the Vietnam experience for the future course of US policy. raumatic reaction, perhaps revealedeeply divisive national debate oreverish search for "guilty" parties, could greatly compound the damage done-. An apparentof counsels, with one set of extremistsore ruthless use oi' American power and another the renunciation of any world power role, would have similar effect. More than other notions, and fox more than any great power known to history, the Americana live with open windows. Especially in the imoedlate aftermath of thelamor of domestic quarreling andmight go far to fix the views of friends and foes abroadlntakon and ultimately dangerous mold. Conversely, if American opinion seemed in the main toteady and sober line, foreign echoes would tend to be similarly moderated. In fact, American domestic Interpretationsetback in Vietnam, and the

impression others canaaquontly farmed of tho likely subsequent course of American policy, night finally prove as important as the event itself.


17. Turning to come more concrete implicationo, tho most direct and immediate vould be evident in the region of Southeast Asia itself. But what happens in this area boars in turn oa Chinese policy and the future of Chines^American relations, and also on the role which the U3 la to play In the affairs of Asia over the long term.

Southeast Asia

IS. In considering Southeast Asia, the first questions ore: Does Hanoi have aabitlons beyond the extension of Communist power to the whole of Vietnam? Having won that, how vould it conduct Itself toward other states of the area? Sucre does not seem much doubt that it would aim to establish its ascendancy over Laos and Cambodia; the Vietnaraese Communists, partly because they hod an organized exlstonoo for several decades under tlie colonial regime, apparently regard themselves aa the successors to the French in all of Indo-China. But this does not moon that Hanoi vould proceed

at once to wage subversive-guerrilla war against these two countries In order to establish outright Communist regimes. Por some period at least, tbe Communists would be preoccupied with the consolidation of their rule In south Vietnam. Probably Hanoi would be satisfied initially to hare well-disposed governments responsive to its influence In Laos aad Cambodia. Its primary requirement vould be that they notilitary association with the US. If they did, they would become tho object ofattach, though probably not of formal invasion. Sooner or Later, of course, Hanoi would expect these two countries to be governed by subordinate branches of the Vietnamese Ccmeunist Party.

19. The situationbe perilous and compli-

cated. Sooner or later, both Hanoi and Peking vould bring pressure in an attempt to force Bangkokoooporativen relationship. The tost would be the Lntter's willingness to dissociate itself fira the US, and, presumably, now political leadership vould be required aa an earnest of this change. Ue have no sound basis for estimating bow the Thais would respond to such pressure. Our best guess is that, daeplte the discredit the US would suffer because of the outcome in Tletnaa, the present Thai leadership wouldto seek US support. The Crasmml St pewera would than press tho subversive effort already in being in northeast Thailand,

usingaw on themount, its dlLecsaa would be whether to try to buy off Cosnunlst pressure by realigning its policies, or whether to give reslntance with US aid, assuming this waa offered. With such aid, the Thais' chances of beatingubversive campaign vould probably be good, though the pressures far accoBBodaticci generated by leftist political forces, which vould no doubt gain strength In tha wakeommunist success in Vietnam, might be groat. We see nu way of anticipating bow tho Internal political struggle generated in Thailand by these events would fall out. Obviously, the stance adopted by the US, and Thai appraisal of it, would be crucial.

20. Similarly, in other countries of the region, judgaonto made about the further Intentions of the US In the area would decicivoLy affect the balance of Internal political forces ami, thereforo, the policies adopted toward the Communist powers. In Malaysia, Burma, the Philippines, and Indonesia, non-Geminist political forces nowlear ascendancy. The will of tho present ruling groups to maintain themselves In power, to assert full national Independence, and to resist internal subversion vould per*1at despite Communist success in Vietnam. Hone of those four states would bo destined inevitably to fall under CcmainlBt control or to be pressuredassal relationship with China.

But clearly their will and capacity to resist internal and external pressures vould he greatly strengthened if the US demonstrated corrrinclnsly that Its backing vould continue to be available to then. What the UB did about supporting the Thais, vho vould be moat ianedlately exposed to Ccwaunlst pressures, vould greatly affect Judgment* of political leaders in the other states about US intentions.

21. tba outlook would be very ouch darker if leaders In these countries concluded that they had to write off the UBower factor in tho region. trong regime in China determined toampaign of subversion against the mainland states has considerable assets with which to work. Burma ls vulnerable because of its long border and its dissident minorities; its political weakness and stagnation may makearget for the CccBunisto rcgaxdlcsa of the outcome In Vietnam. In Malaysia and Singapore, tho Communist parties, largely Chinese, are responsive to Peking's direction andeoooctrated capacity for terrorist activity. With new pressures on these governments, leftist fronts agitating for oncommodatlon with the Casauniat powers would gain In strength. Even if not inevitable, it is possible, especially assuming tho absence of effective US support, that political realignments would occur in one or another of these countries.

- Ik -

inintemnl instabilityetback to scoocnlc development vouldanger.

22. Indonesia and the Philippines vould be very much less vulnerable, in part because their island situations make external support to guerrilla farces far more difficult. It seems unlikely that the present Indonesian loaders vould, bocausc of Communist success in Vietnam, falter In their determination to cope vith their own Internal Communist problem. Given continuation of the economic aid programs in which the US, Japan, and others arc involved, their will to move ahead with orderly development vould remain. If, however, Ccczsunlst gains eventually took place In Thailand and other mainland states, leftist national!nt forces, which nave been reprosoud along with the Ctmsualcts in the last two years, might revive; the result couldew phase of severe instability. In the Philippines, thetability


and sound development io not good In any case. US failure in Vietnam vould give encouragement to Communist and anti-American forces, but the problem of subversion vould probably still be manageable. As In Indonesia, of course, if Ccoraunlot gains were extended beyond Vietnam, there would probablyendency for the Internal situation of tha Philippines to deteriorate also.

2?. Thus th* eventual repercussion* of failure In Vietnam are potentially oorloua In Southeast Asiahole, but that failure alone would not necossarlly unhinge the entire area. Other factors which would cone Into play subsequently would be farImportant. The primary one Is the role the US would decide to play in the area, and its success in convincing leaders there of its will and capacity to continue backing them. Next In Importance would be the outcome In Thailand. If the Thais, with US backing, guccesafully held off the pressures which would be brought to bear against them, the whole region would probably remain reasonably stable. If they did not, deteriorating situations in Burma and Malaysia would probably develop, and the political balance in Indonesia and the Philippines could avontually bo affected also. Finally, much In all this hangs on the situation in China; restored unity there,oinedelnvigoretion of expansionist policies, would obviously worsen the odds against stability In Southeast Asia.


2k. In view of the present Internal turmoil In China, it is lmposeible to say whether and In what degree it will bo afactor in Asian power alignments during the next few yours. The discussion hero assumes that order will ultimately bo restored

unuer the authorityentral government, and thatovernment will aspire to groat-power drmi nance in the Asian region. Thli roans that It will strive to limit or displace US Influence and to bring lesser states of tbe areaependent or at least reliable relaUcnahlp with Itself. This will be true whatever faction wins the Internal power struggle, though the manner inuture Chlneae regime pursues such alms clearly depends on Its political complexion and on its strength. In any case, we would not think that (kmtsunist success in Vietnam would make overt Chinese aggression In Southeast Asia any sure likely, like Hanoi, Peking would try to fullow up by increasing pressure on states of that area to dissociate themselves from tbe US. Probably on the political plane, though surely not in powernified Canonist VletnsB could became somethingompetitor to Chinat region.

25. It seams unlikely that Ccessunlst success in Vietnam would Itself have any Important bearing on tha internal struggle in China. Ho doubt the Maoists would claim the eventriumph of the leader's doctrines, but the Vietnamese war is apparently not at issue between the Chinese factions; other contentions over Internal power and policy ara dominating. Whether in ths long run

the fact tbat theo longer militarily presentorder country would improve the prospects of Chinese-American relations oeens doubtful. These relations will depend for more fundamentally on other Issues, notably Taiwan, and on the general political disposition of the leadership in China which succeeds Mao.

The US Sole In Asia

only the states of Southeast Asia, but all thestates in tha far East vould feel obliged to ask th ecuthe failure of US policy In Vietnam meant for the futurethe US In that part of the world. There would surely bo a

shock to all these states,eriod of sumo uncertainty while they re-examined their relatione with the US and made frantic efforts toow reading on US intentions.

reactions would vary with the particularof individual states. Those which feel themselvesthreatened by Communist forcesThailand,Taiwanwould be the moot alarmed. The letter twoconcrete reassurance, recognising that they had noof accommodation with their enemies. As Indicatedcaso vould be more complex. And, also as arguedstates In Southeast Asia vould bo very much affected

eventually by whether Vietnam seemed toimit to CcsBauniet advance, by the fate of Thailand, and by what the US demonstrated there that it waa prepared to do in future. Broadly speaking, we think that all thaee states would want the UB to continue toajor role in support of Asian security and development, but they would expect it to demonstrate anew that it bad the will to do so. For sobs, the lesson of Vietnam might be that US support could not be effective without greater effort by then on their own behalf. The outcome in Vietnam might also give some impulse to regional association In Asia, though this would be unlikely to be significantecurity point of view.

23. In Japan, one would not expect any sudden retreat from the security relationship with the US, but stronger neutralist opinion would bo heard and the future of the US-Japanese security treaty would be more uncertain, For the Japanese, hovever, the relationship with the US would be weighed primarily against the long-term threat poseduclear China, and if developments in China did not seem likely toindnution of this throat, Japan would probably want to preserve its present ties with the US. But the alternative of seeking security byuclear power haraelf would probably also gain wider support.

The way In which US leadership de.finod tbe future American rolo in Asia, and the extent to which such utterances appeared to ccsssand political support in this country, would be fay all odds tbe soit Important determinants for Asian attitudes. Tola moans that if the UB persuasively conveyed the intention to continue to be present in the Far Eastecurity factor, snd also to continue supporting the racvoe toward regional institutional development which have begun there, then it seeno unlikely that in the end an unfavorable outcome in Vietnam would greatly alter the present pattern of relationships. There would no doubtroubled and uncertain phase in the Immediate ofteraath of tbe event, but it should not be beyond tho capacity of our leadership and diplomacy to negotiate this passage, provided again that our dcoestlc politics did not giveicture of confusion and disarray that Asians felt it necessary to discount the Usower factor in that area.

Thus ve do not conclude that other states In Asia would inevitably fall under Comaunlat control in Lhe wake of Cosnunlst success in Vietnam. The ensuing period vould be marked bypolitical Instability, especially in Southeast Asia, an-', the slow process of political-economic development and regional association which ve have sought to prmvite vould surely be set

back. IT one car Bore ate tea ia Southeast Asia did In fact fall unlor frnra inlet central, the outlook for thoseld be even dimmer; the region could beurbulent and regressivo conditionong time. This wouldajor frustration of US policy alms, but va think vould not bring any major threats to US security.


31- We turn next to Soviets American relations because these constitute the central power conflict in the world, because only the USSR can seriously threaten US security, and because the conclusions the Soviets might drawB failure In Vietnam could affect American policy problems in many areas other then Asia.

32. lhe Soviets did not stimulate Hanoi's aggression; had their influence been dominant, the Vietnamese Cornunists would probably haveore cautious and loos costly course toward their goal of winning pover in all of Vietnam. , however, Moscow has given full political and material support, partly to counter Chinese influence In Viatnam and in tlie Communist Movement generally, and partly because the Soviet leadership cane to believe Hanoiood chance for success. The USSR'e interests as leader of the Communist world androat power demanded that It be associated with this success. The anticipated setback for US arms and policy vould serve both kinds of Interests.

33* How would Soviet conduct be affected by the outcome In Vietnam that we are assuming? One hypothesis that can bethe one promoted currently by Soviet propaganda, Is that the way would bo openedumber of constructive devolop-maats which would greatly advance- Soviet-American detente. Surely the so-called 'American aggression in Vietnam" has contributed to the hardening of Soviet-American relations over the last several years, but Vietnam has been an much pretext as cause. Ibe Soviets have not tried seriously toettlement there, among other reasons, because they wanted to use the political liabilities the war bas imposed on the US to undemine American influence in other areas and to advance their own. ldetback for US policy In Vietnam to the some end, pointing out to others the limitations and unreliability of UB power, and the dangers of being aligned with it against "progressive" forces. Against thisno very significant progress in bilateral relations would be likely, though the Soviets might Initially favor an Improvement in atmospherics in order to push settlement of some Issues on what they would callore realistic basis.*' In sum, the Soviet-American conflict ls too broad and basic,ouar contention in other areas fur more crucial than Southeast Asia, to be turned around toward detentehe and of tbe war in Vietnam.

ore challenging question ia whether the Soviets night noteappraisal of Anerloan power and will which would tempi them into rashly aggressive moves. Ua know their preoccupation with the psychology af power. Vail* they would realise that objectively Amor icon payabilities ware undiminished, they might speculate on Ui* dl fiorientoti on of American leadership andoss of nervo. We think there la scar chance that the Soviets would wish to try on some such hypothesis. It Is impossible to say where and how they might move to test American will. If they did oo, it would probably beentative nannorj any really dangerous probe vould be ended as soon as they were satisfied that the US did not accept that any general change In the relations of power had occurred. Moreover, tbey would be conscious that particularly strong American reactions were possible precisely In order to denvsistrate that the outcome In Vietnam had no general significance. ould also bo awareeversion by thcu to aggressive behavior vould prejudice political tendencies they have been trying to nourish, notably in Europe. Ka think, therefore, that while the Sovlots would certainly entertain moves toirerd policies of pressure, they vould actually ua-artako these only withual caution, and would draw back when they were satisfied that the results were likely to be counterproductive.

Thie ados up to aayln; that Soviet conduct io the woke of an uxifavorable outcone in Vietnam aught present problem, but that these vould probably be manageable if the USteady hand and conveyed to other* that It vas doing ao.


Since the beginning of this decade "national liberation warfare" bas beea celebrated by Soviet doctrine and policy as the key to ovarctcetlngdvancingnd thus. Impliedly, to extending the Soviet icperiuu. Mould tbe Ocvietsomunlet success In South Vletnaa as validating their theses about national liberation struggle, and thus be disposed to sponsor similar tactics more widely! There is reason to doubt this. Surely Soviet propaganda wouldeneral way sake much of the heroic exploits of the liberation fighters in Vietnam, and might in selected areas urge that their example be followed. But Moscow would bo unlikely to advocate their methodseneral prescription for Communist partion and "progressive" forces, or pledge Soviet support indiscriminately to such ventures. The Soviets probably realise that the case of Vietnam is sul gonaris, that the Communists tho re had the luck toroadly-based notionalist movement directed genuinely against foreign colonial rule. They know that

almost everywhere else Inird World the colonial oppressore have been long gone, and that the conditions for araed action by Communists are more complicated and less favorable. Accordingly, they would continue to weigh the balance of forces obtaining In each national arena separately, counseling their clients to avoidnd to resort to armed violence only when the prospects for success were good. One of the criteria for Judging this vould still bo the likelihood of external aid to the regime being attacked, especially UB aid. Therefore, any change In this aspect of Soviet policy would reflect Moscow's Judgment thot OB counterlnBurgeocy Intervention had become less likely.

36. Moscow is notosition to orchestrate allhowever, and nowaday* even In the Communist movement its

, nay go unheeded. It seems likely that, insounlst

parties and In some other leftist groups, armed violence as the way to power vould acquire greater appeal. Some, stirred by the ronantic revolutionary aura which night seee to surround the Vietnamese in victory, might actually try to imitate them. of this sort vould be most likely to occur In Southeast Asia itself, and perhaps In Latin America. In certain or tho Latin American Communist movement* there ore Minority factions which are

now, under Castro'sholly corsaitted to armed violence. Such groupe vould too the failure of US counterinsurgency action in Vietnamarticularly favorable aeon for them, and vould be encouraged to enlarge their efforts.

doubt, however, thot such impulses vould result lamore widespread and serious Ccacunist Insurgency problemobtain In any case, either in Latin America or elsewhere.

If Communists In some countries temporarily acquired more will to fight, the edds for or ogalnst success for such ventures in any particular national setting would remain essentially tbe same. It le possible. In fact, that threatened governments would draw the looson that more vigorous efforta on their own behalf wereesult which would contain insurgency far mare effectively than aid by the us could ever do.

effect on organized international Comtainlaa ofresort to insurgency by some parties would probably The great majority of the Comnualst parties vouldadhere to the traditional Soviet view that impetuous resortviolence haedlcoa of local circumstances manifests theof "petit bourgeois adventurism." Those who defied this

view would find thwRoalvea isolated and without effective support

from the mala body of the laovexaent. Thus, there would almost certainly notendency for tho Concern! at moveraent to regain Its unity by coalescingeneral line of greater reliance on armed violence. The divisions fcraantod by Chinese, Castroltea, or others vho beliove that "the primary duty of revolutionaries Is to scute revolution" night even be Intensified. Moreover, there will continue to be numerous other grounds for splits within International cocrsunisa.

39. resh impulse might In fact be given to revolutionary insurgency in certain less developed countries, there vouldetback to political stability and economic dovelopmcnt. This, rather than the likelihood of new Vietnams, is the cost to measure. Evan in these term, the cost seems ijkaly to be limited. Perhapn It could be argued that US capacity to give leadership to third World development would be cooprocdsed, but such on affect is not measurable and would bo temporary, especially If the US continued to make significant resources available for military and devolopncnt aid.


UO. By and large, the US involvement in Vietnam has had little sympathy In the Third World. The reactions to US failure

vould probably bo ox varied oiyi conflicting as the political colorations and interacts vhich obtain there. For pany states, preoccupied vith their cam national and regional concerns, tho Vietnam outcome vouldatter of indifference. Some vould be pleased becauseaoltment to "anti-Imperialism"ause. Others vould hopetore generous outpouring of U3 aid vith the drain of the vox stopped. ev eight revise their vicv of the account that had to be taken of US power, and this might be damaging in International forums like the UB,

Certain states which, formally or informally, hove linked their security to reliance on US power vould be the moot troubled. Some have done so In tho belief that ties vith the US wero nocossury to dotor aggression by tho USSR or, just as often, for support against their regional adversaries. Tola applies especially in the Middle Bast aaong the moderate Arab states and among states on the southern borders of the USSii. There might be some tendency among these to bellore that US power bad been overrated or was oa the wane, ao that aceonei^atlooow shape of things to come vas indicated. On the whole, it seems unlikely that the Vietnam affair alone would cause any radical changes of alignment. There vould probably bo time and opportunity for US policy to offset

such tendencies, though there wouldrice to pay In reassurancos snd aid.

U2. Keverthcless, ollo-ance should be made for special uncartalntles In the third World. Many governments there hnve on unstable view of power relations In the world, and are faced by equally excitable oppositions. Paretback for OS power, which may have seamed more imposing and Invulnerable to them than to us, will comeevere shock. Srus- there is the possibility that one or another government, or its opposition, would over-interpret the significance of what happened in Vietnam, with unpredictable effects on its stability and alignment.


k$. Allied Bovertnitcjitn and general opinion in Europe have had mixed views af the Amarlcsn involvement In Vietnam, but on the whole there hasepid reception of th* American rationale for the effort node there. 3m: opinion has bean actively opposed, saeing Vietnam as an American aberration owingontinuing addiction to cold war. Most governments havo thought the OS alitaken, but havo recognised that once the Americans were committed, it was best to give oono passive support, provided there was no

European involvement. These attitudesurrent European mood of reluctance to be Involved in affairs entailing coat or risk which do not seem toirect bearing on national latere ate.

Concern about an unfavorable outcome in Vietnam would not, therefore, be related ao much to the event itself or to what it might mean for that part of the world, as it would to possible effects on American policy and attitudes. Of course, those who hearken to Goulllst doctrine would consideretback for American power toesirable development, but these would be few. Some, especially in Germany, would ask questions about the reliability of American cossnitments to Europe's security, but it is unlikely that mistrust on this score would be widespread or takeorbid character. Host would understand that the American stake in Europe's security isar different order of importance, and would not be disposed to make falsa analogies. However, the output of opinicn-makers, especially that of journalisticgiven to sensational and pseudo-sociologicalricochets with exceptional velocity within the Atlantic world. There vould thus be some danger, and especially if there were serious political ructions here, that European opinion would be led to doubt American capacity to lead the Alliance. Hut on the whole, despite some alarums and excursions, the basic security relationship with Europe would survive.

49. Of course, there lo moro to tho Atlantic relatlcauinlp than tha security tic The US has thought of it alsooalition of the advanced Western nations committed to certain coostructlva enterprises, especially in the struggle for order and development in the Third World. The credibility of American leadership for such purposes might be adversely affected, despite tha fact that most European governments have vented us to shod tho Vietnam Involveoent and vould not mind very such the manner of our doing so. This vouldost to be borne. In the hope that time vould efface It, as It probably would.


40. Tha foregoing discussion has roamed widely over many

ureas and possibilities. Any vnry precise or confidant conclusions waild misrepresent what has boon said and axeeed what sober judgment would allow. The following ore the broad and essentialhich this paper has intended to convey:

a. An unfavorable outcome in Vietnam wouldajor setback to tho reputation of US power which would limit US influence and prejudice our other Interests In B'-dc degree which cannot be reliably foreseen.

b. Probably tne net effects vould not be pcrmncatlyo this cuntry's capacity to play its partorld power working for order and security in cnny areas.

worst potential damage vould be of thokind: Internal dissension which would limit ourto use our power and resources wisely and to fullleadoss of confidence by others in thefor leadership.

destabilizing effects would be greatest Inarea of Southeast Asia where socio states wouldinternal turmoil and heightened external prcnouroa, andrealignments might occur; similar effects would boor could be more easily contained.

As indicated at tbe of this paper, no single analysis of this subject can be entirely adequate, lha uncertainties and imponderables Involved in projectingf tbe contingency discussed ore so great that other lisplicationu con legitimately bo drawn. If they were either more conforting or more ominous, they could not be disproved.

" . But any honest and dispasslonnte analysis oust conclude that. If the US accepts failure In Vietnam, It will pay some

price in the fora of now risks which success there would preclude. The frustrationorld power, once It has coaolttod vast resources and ouch prestigellltary enterprise, oust he In sane degree damaging to the general security eystcn it upholds. In the case of Vlatnaa, there does not sees) toosnon denonlnstor which permits such oventusl risks to be measured reliably against tbe obvious and inraedlote costs of continuing war. PresuDobly those who have to sake tho agonizing choices were aware of that already. If the analysis here advaneee the diaeunslroi at all, it is tn the direction of suggesting that such risks ore probably nore United and controllable than most previous argument has indicated.

Original document.

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