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Thursday, August 18, 1966
THE TAR HEEL
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I VC Power Will Continue f
I In Viet Nam After War
By MIKE McGEE
LAST OF A SERIES
Observations from a year in South Vietnam
The Viet Cong have had and will continue to have an in
fluence on the political structure of South Vietnam. There can
be no post-war government that is not a coalition with some
of the political ideas of the Viet Cong and some of the VC
The present regime is a combination government, much as
we would hate to admit it. Most of the "reforms" of the Saigon
Government are reactions to some idea presented by Ho Chi
Minh and the VC.
The VC have preached Land Reform (the violent takeover
of farmland from landlords by the masses) and abolition of
social classes as their chief goals. The Saigon Government
probably exists today only because it has imposed limits on
aristocracy, especially since Diem fell, and started a gradual
program of peaceful land reform even under Diem. (The rich
est man in Saigon was executed this spring for profiteering.)
The VC preach freedom from foreign domination. Much of
the force of American diplomacy is spent in denying that
there is any prospect of our dominating Vietnam. Much of our
work and many of our frustrations within that country are con
nected with assuring the Vietnamese their independence.
Would this have come about if the VC had not raised the
questions first: the "land reform," the abolition of aristo
cracy, the independence? It's a debatable question.
Vietnam is deeply rooted in custom and the Mandarin tra
dition of rule by the strongest. Few aristocratic leaders or co
lonial administrators would have gotten the idea. It was up to
the peasants, under the leadership of the foreign-educated pea
sants Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, to put the argu
ments before the oppressors. Sixty per cent of a crop is too
much rent for a poor peasant to pay for his land.
What we and the Vietnamese are fighting for now in that
country is only the method by which the final goals will be
achieved. Communist regimentation versus the welfare state.
Either way the peasant supposedly gets the benefits.
Any post - war government will have to be a coalition.
Sometimes as I walked through a small jungle village it oc
curred to me that when the war is over, assuming we win, the
Viet Cong armies will be disbanded and the men will return
to their homes. In every village, town and city there will be
hundreds of ex-VC and former sympathizers.
Will they be excluded from political power in the peace
time government? I don't see how. Since nobody knows now
who is a VC, ex-VC's will not be any more easily recognizable.
Men who were commanders in the Viet Cong armies may
emerge as natural leaders in Vietnamese communities. They
may abandon Communism, but they will not give up reform.
And the only way to get them to abandon Communism is
to defeat them in the field, and demonstrate a desire to listen
to their complaints. The latter will probably be the hardest
for the Saigon Government (with our help) to accomplish.
If the war goes well for our side for the next year or so we
ought to recognize and negotiate directly with the Viet Cong
command. When the time comes there ought to be an actual
surrender of troops and a document like the one Grant and
Lee signed at Appomattox.
Then the troops can go home. Their children will form
Daughters of the Viet Cong chapters and erect statues in the
town square to the noble but defeated Viet Cong warrior. May
be they will even have a secret hooded society to drive out the
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