The Way to End the War: The Statement of Ngo Cong Duc

During a visit to Paris in late September we became convinced that the American public is unaware of a number of dramatic new developments in South Vietnam. These developments suggest that the Thieu regime is in the deepest trouble of its five-year history and that it may be on the verge of collapse. They also make it clear why Mr. Nixon’s proposals of October 7, which continue to guarantee US support of that regime, will not lead to a settlement. Our impressions are based on a series of discussions we held in Paris, the most important of which were with the following persons: Madame Nguyen Thi Binh, Foreign Minister of the Provisional Revolutionary Government of South Vietnam and head of its delegation at the Paris peace talks; Minister Xuan Thuy, head of the Paris delegation of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam; Wilfred Burchett, free-lance correspondent who is a knowledgeable observer of the Indochina scene; Jacques Decornoy, Southeast Asia correspondent for Le Monde and an expert on the Indochina war.

From these discussions emerged a high degree of agreement about the political situation in South Vietnam. There have been, all felt, a sharp upsurge of anti-American and anti-Thieu activity in the cities of South Vietnam and, at the same time, an increasing reliance by the Saigon regime upon blatant repression to maintain control. What has become evident in this political crisis is the conviction of South Vietnamese urban groups that President Nixon’s Vietnam policies have failed, either because the military balance is shifting back to the other side or because Vietnamization will not bring the war to an end but will instead merely prolong it.

The present situation in South Vietnam is clearly analyzed by Mr. Ngo Cong Duc in the statement published below, which he made at a press conference in Paris on September 21. Mr. Duc is a well-to-do landholder from the Delta region who in 1967 was elected to the National Assembly from the province of Vinh Binh on an anti-Vietcong platform. A Catholic who is also the editor of Saigon’s leading daily newspaper, Tin Sang, he has close affiliations with many prominent southern political leaders, including General Duong Van Minh (“Big Minh”), who has often been mentioned as a likely leader of a coalition government in Saigon.

For a man in Mr. Duc’s position to make such a sweeping attack on the Saigon government is itself an important political act. His statement is also of great significance because of its indictment of American policies, its proposals for ending the war, and the evidence it provides that a movement of major proportions against the Saigon regime is under way in South Vietnam. According to The New York Times (September 30, 1970, p. 4), Mr. Duc repeated his statement in Saigon on September 29, 1970.

In view of the treatment the Thieu regime has given its critics and opponents, Mr. Duc’s statement is a brave act of self-assertion. As a public figure of stature …

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Letters

Mr. Duc’s Constituency February 11, 1971