The war in Viet Nam may well overshadow everything else as news during the coming year. In Washington, rumors race through the halls of government that we shall send more men to Viet Nam than we sent to Korea; that the war may last ten to twenty years; that the cost of the war in 1966 may run to $10 billion. Such a diversion of the resources of the richest and most powerful nation on earth, for the next decade or two, is sad to contemplate.

The thirty-hour holiday truce plea was a hopeful turn. If this Christmas ceasefire effort can actually be extended into a sincere quest for a just solution, bringing a halt not only to human conflict and suffering but also to Communist aggression, the anxieties of 1966 will be greatly lightened. If not, a grim year may be ahead in Viet Nam.

In its bombing in both North and South Viet Nam, America attempts to spare concentrations of people naturally found in centers of industrialization. This may be the most measured destruction in the annals of warfare, but many such people will unavoidably be killed.

The Communist Viet Cong are also selective, in their way. They aim their terrorism with particular force at native officials loyal to Saigon who attempt to establish some order and consensus in that bewildered and undemocratic land. These loyalists have been decapitated, their skin peeled off, their wives’ bodies disemboweled and slung atop fence posts. The tactics of the South Vietnamese are often equally repulsive to Americans, who have no tradition of cruelty. Such Americans do not know that some of the savagery practiced in Viet Nam is based on religion. They simply do not understand the Vietnamese animist living in tribal territory who believes that he bolsters his courage by devouring ...

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