A top U.S. general who signed the Korean truce gives his views on a controversial question

Is the United States right in bombing North Viet Nam? In the following discussion of this current controversy, no mention will be made of the pros and cons of pacifism, since the discussion would be irrelevant if pacifism were the norm. Neither will an opinion be expressed of the propriety of American military intervention in the conflict. Suffice it to say that successive presidents of the United States, both Democratic and Republican, have decided that, for the security of the United States and of the so-called free world, resisting the Communists’ military effort to take over South Viet Nam is necessary. And it is evident that the American public as a whole supports this policy.

Many people think that the purpose of bombing cities is to terrorize the civilians, causing them to surrender. This is not so. Experience shows instead that bombings infuriate the people and increase their will to fight. Neither are bombs intended to overcome ideological Communism; ideas cannot be destroyed militarily.

What then is the purpose of bombing? It is part of the total effort to defeat decisively the military aggression of the Communists in South Viet Nam. Once an aggressor has committed himself to conquering by armed warfare, he has abandoned intentions of negotiating a settlement, at least until his military effort has proved a failure. Under these circumstances, for the other side to seek to negotiate will be futile; indeed, taken as a sign of unwillingness to fight, it will only encourage the aggressor to strive harder for military victory. That the constantly expressed desire of the United States to negotiate is answered with immediate scorn ...

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