Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona on November 4, 1969 · Page 9
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November 4, 1969

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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona · Page 9

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Phoenix, Arizona
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Tuesday, November 4, 1969
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REPUBLIC More BULL DOG about \J Continued from Page 1 they can salvage more by negotiating than by sitting by while the remainder of the their local forces are decimated. But this view is sharply disputed by other officials in Vietnam, especially military officers, who reason that Hanoi would be well advised to remain obstinate while the United States is withdrawing troops under increasing pressure from American public opinion. In its most popular form, the theory of the Vietcong's demise goes something like this: The TET attacks of 1968 cost the Vietcong thousands of their most valuable cadre, including irreplaceable veterans of the 10 to 20 years of revolutionary activity. Thus the boldness and ingenuity that made the TET offensive possible was largely culminated in the bloody toll of the offensive itself. The incredibly determined troops who fought suicidally into the American embassy compound, the leaders of assaults on the cities throughout the country, the political cadre who came into the open for the first time to lead the "general uprising" — all these were lost. Since then, the theory continues, the local Vietcong have become progressively weaker. Thousands have "cliieu hoied" or rallied to the government side rather than fight on against increasingly adverse odds. Thousands more have been eliminated by the Phoenix program which tracks down, arrests and jails Vietcong cadre. The NLF has lost control of most populated areas of the countryside, therefore losing its base for recruiting new .personnel. Today the front's vaunted organization is in disarray or worse; in many , areas it is said to be nonexis- • tent, or dependent on a hand- iful of local cadres where once there were hundreds. '. To support the theory, offi- •cials here generally cite the • same bits of evidence: The ; self-evident fact that Vietcong •losses at TET were enor- .mous, the self-evident fact ;that the Vietcong now control very few populated areas, the .increasing percentage o f •North Vietnamese troops in 'nominally Vietcong units, .reports from prisoners and ral- liers about the. desperate straits the Communists are in, and statistics showing how many thousands of the "VCI" (members of the Vietcong infrastructure) have been neutralized, and how dramatically pacification is progressing, almost without opposition. Hard evidence to contradict the theory is not easily found, though there are a number of seasoned cynics, especially among the Vietnamese, who still are unwilling to believe that the Vietcong is in such precarious straits. One Vietnamese - speaking official believes that the Vietcong have gone underground deliberately, perhaps expressly to induce the sort of optimism that is now flourishing on the allied side. But he has no evidence to support his hypothesis arid none of the notorious captured documents confirm it. There is evidence that the boasts made for the Chieu Hoi and Phoenix programs may be misleading. American officials in the field acknowledge that a substantial number of ralliers are.only draft dodgers or insignificant figures looking for a temporary accommodation with the government. Many of the suspected Vietcong arrested by the Phoenix program are able to bribe their way out of prison, others get off with prison terms of a few months. Some skeptics think reports of the enemy's hardships can be attributed to ralliers and prisoners who tell Americans and South Vietnamese officials only what they want to hear. There are pessimists in Vietnam who make these points, but the new .optimists make them, too. They are willing to acknowledge possible flaws in their arguments, still insisting that, on balance, their optimism is justified. Typical of these confident optimists is an American official who has been in Vietnam for most of a decade. His early years here were spent as a critic of American policy. Then a pessimist about the outcome of the war, he now exudes optimism, and offers a detailed defense of his new position "•• but not, please, for quotation. , His jnigbt be called the advanced optimists' theory, supported in part or completely ptimists feel VC too weak 4 The Arizona Republic Phoenix, Toes., Nov. 4, 1969 by a number of the most knowledgeable Americans here and by many Vietnamese government officials. Implicit in this optimism is a belief that the conditions which existed in the first half of the 1960s when the NFL built its strength and organized local administrations that "clearly outperformed the government's on every count," as Bernard Fall once wrote — have now virtually disappeared. Vietnamese society has changed radically since 1965, almost entirely in ways that work against the Vietcong, according to the analysis. One experienced official gave this example: "When I came into the delta in 1961, I found that people believed ridiculous lies that the Vietcong told them. Their propaganda was unchallenged." Peasants believed that Saigon had been Last roundup for old Nellie DANVILLE, Mo. (UPI) —Nellie, said to be just about the oldest horse around, has died of a heart attack. After 53 years, the end came last weekend on Mr. and Mrs. Cecil Buchanan's farm. A veterinarian, Dr. William McDowell, worked with Nellie for six hours. But it was no use. "The doctor had Nellie on her feet after the first heart attack," Mrs. Buchanan said, "and we thought Nellie would come out of it all right. But she suffered a second heart attack and fell dead." So Nellie was buried in the middle of her old pasture and the Buchanans plan to erect a monument on the spot. The Buchanans knew it had to come. That's why they sent out invitations earlier this year for Nellie's birthday party. More than 300 friends and relatives turned up for the fish fry. Nellie got eight bales of hay, five bags of feed, a bouquet of red clover, a birthday cake she spurned, and a rounding chorus of "Happy Birthday, Nellie." The Buchanans say they have records to prove Nellie's age. She was born on Leeman Kirk's farm in Aurdrain County, Mo., they said. Kirk gave the old black horse to the Buchan- ans when he moved to Florida. There was no work for Nellie on the Buchanan farm. Mrs. Buchanan said, "We promised to give Nellie a good home and we did to the very end. We just loved ole Nellie." almost destroyed, that Americans in Diem's palace ran the government and other tales, he said. But today, thousands of television sets and hundreds of thousands of radios later, the Vietnamese peasantry is no linger so gullible. Ordinary people daily see and hear things that they never dreamed of in the early 1960s. They get a detailed version of national and world events that contradicts Vietcong propaganda. Since 1965, this analysis continues, the Vietcong also have lost their popular support. In the early days of the insurgency there were real benefits, to life under the Vietcong: Land was distributed to farmers, social services that Saigon had never provided were available, reasonably free local elections (suspended by Diem) were held. "I am convinced," says one American who was here at the time, "that in 1964 and 1965, at least 50 per cent of the people actively supported the Vietcong and expected them to win the war." The same official thinks the number of NLF supporters now is no more than 10 or 15 per cent of the population. He attributes much of the change to the experience of tire Tet offensive. Tet is much the most important holiday of the year in Vietnam. Superstitious Vietnamese — of whom there are many — believe that the luck of the whole year will be determined by their luck during, Tet. The Vietcong assured that Tet in 1968 was as bad a holiday as it could have been for millions of Vietnamese when it launched nationwide attacks. In many parts of Vietnam the Tet attacks resulted in Vietcong occupation of territories that had been controlled by Saigon. "Three to six months under VC control," says Col. Duong Hien Nghia, the province chief of Vinhlong, "gave the people a chance to make a comparison between communism and nationalism." Much of Col. Nghia's province was under Vietcong control for several months after Tet. He is now convinced that the experience convinced many people in Vinhlong to opt for "nationalism," and that this change of the "popular spirit" has made it possible to pacify most of the province. More practically, it is said, there are no longer any advantages to life under the Vietcong but there are numerous apparent disadvantages. Now that they are on the defensive, the 'Vietcong must press into service whomever they can find. Their taxes are now extremely high, much higher than the government's. Vietcong areas are subject to military sweeps, air strikes and artillery fire and the NLF's shadow government has disappeared or gone underground, offering few if any benefits to its followers. Moreover, the optimistic analysis continues, South Vietnam has been transformed from a quiet agrarian enonomy into a bustling marketplace of consumer goods. Motorbikes, radios, televisions and other appliances have transformed the lives and life in Vietnam. Capitalism has come to the scene of the revolution, and the revolution, has suffered—at least temporarily—as a result. This analysis is not easily tested for its assumptions about what appealed originally to followers to the NLF cannot be proved. But there is no doubt that the war has radically changed Vietnam. There is widespread agreement among the Vietnamese and knowledgeable outsiders here that the Vietcong largely have lost their claim to the affections of their old followers. The revolution used to be easy and attractive. Now it is rigorous, dangerous and uncomfortable. Many South Vietnamese apparently are no longer interested. What could reverse the trend and put the Vietcong back in the ascendancy? The new optimists offer few answers to that question. "If President Thieu were assassinated, that might do it," says one foreseeing a possible unraveling of the Saigon government that would both encourage the Vietcong and discourage the populace. Some officials believe the enemy would do serious, though perhaps only temporary, damage to the pacification program by targeting itr, forces against such vulnera ble pacification targets as U.S. local forces in marginally secure areas, new village development programs and local officials. But many of the optimists believe that purely military action, even an attempt to repeat the Tet offensive, could have only a fleeting effect. "Really, that would only weaken them more," said one. Nevertheless, a trip around the country reveals that the new optimism has its limits. Despite the widespread feeling that the local Vietcong soon will be beaten, this reporter found on several recent trips no one who would predict when this might happen. How long will It take to completely pacify Rachkien District in Longan Province, an historic Vietminh and NLF stronghold just south of Saigon? "I hope we will have all C hamlets by the end of next year," replies the district chief, Capt. Vuong Van Hoa. In the rating system of the pacification program (A through E or V for Vietcong-controlled), C means relatively secure, but not fully pacified. How long would it take to really pacify Rachkien, to bring the hamlets all up at A or B? Capt. Hoa giggled self-consciously and showed the fine gold trimmings of his teeth. But he did not answer. How long? "You know, it is very hard to bring a hamlet uptoB.. ." The new optimism also is limited by what Henry Kissinger has described as "one of the cardinal maxims of guerrilla war: The guerrilla wins if he does not lose ..." For the guerrillas to lose in Vietnam, they must acknowledge defeat or be eliminated. None of the officials interviewed for this series of articles anticipates the former or will predict the latter yet. If the local Vietcong can maintain the barest pretense of a presence in much of the' country while North Vietnam's 100,000-odd troops in or near the south continue to attack and kill allied forces, the war will continue. It may well appear in the United States to be .relatively unchanged. Recent intelligence assessments suggest that North Vietnam may be about to increase the number of its troops within striking distance of the south. In recent months, North Vietnamese soldiers have moved into the Mekong Delta for the first time. "They may lose the revolution but still win the war," one American here says. 129 PARK CENTRAL MALL Next to Penney's 274-4885 Smce 7937 • HEARING AIDS — CUSTOM FITTED • DIAGNOSTIC EQUIPMENT FOR DOCTORS • SCREENING AUDIOMETERS FOR SCHOOLS ANP HEARING CONSERVATION PROGRAMS , John Freshlty MAICO-PHOENIX HEARING AID CENTER 120 West Osborn Road • 264-6139 CANAL DRY-UP Building Arizona is Our Only Business C Salt River Project canals south of the Salt River will be dried up for construction, canal lining and maintenance beginning Friday, November 7, 1969 at midnight and ending Friday, Dec. 5,1969 at midnight. Pumps may be made available where their delivery does not interfere with construcr tion and maintenance. Mansfield, Kennedy ask tax exemption hike United Press International WASHINGTON - Senate Democratic leaders Mike Mansfield and Edward M. Kennedy called yesterday for an increase in the $600 personal income tax exemption, raising the prospect of a stiff Senate floor fight on the tax reform bill. Mansfield also announced the Senate would come in early, stay late and work Saturdays during consideration of the tax measure in the hope of passing it by early December. Debate is expected to start late this month on the complex bill approved Friday by the Senate Finance Committee. Mansfield told newsmen he would try to boost the personal exemption to at least $1,000. Kennedy said, "I would like to see it raised," but mentioned no new figure. The Treasury Department has estimated that a boost to $1,000 would reduce revenues by more than $12 billion a year. The committee rejected the same proposal on a 13-3 vote last week. Sen. John J. Williams of Delaware, the Finance Committee's ranking Republican, said he would fight any increase in the exemption and predicted it would be defeat- ed. "It's nice to talk about, but there's just not the money to do it," he said. The exemption, pegged at $600 since 1948, is the amount a taxpayer deducts from his income before he figures his tax for himself, his wife, each child and any other dependent. Mansfield said the $600 figure is obsolete because living IRS seizes Reno hotel, guests out RENO (AP) - The Riverside Hotel, beside the Truckee River downtown, was seized yesterday by the internal revenue service which filed a $46,283 lien for unpaid taxes. A nine-man team of IRS agents closed the 186-room hotel and asked guests to leave. Hotel officials were unavailable for comment. Warren Bates, district IRS director, said the liens were for third-quarter 1969 taxes, and the hotel could be reopened if owners could satisfy the tax bill. costs have increased. Opponents of moves to raise the exemption say it not only would cost the government too much money but would reward couples for having children at a time of rapid population growth. The reform bill, similar to one passed by the House, would cut taxes gradually by about $9 billion and raise revenues at the same time by about $6.5 billion by closing various tax loopholes and re- pealing the 7 per cent investment tax credit. It also would reduce the income tax surcharge from 10 per cent to 5 per cent, effective Jan. 1, and automatically eliminate it next June 30. Present automobile and telephone excise taxes would be extended until Jan. 1,1971. "If the Senate wants to, we can dispose of it in two weeks," Mansfield told newsmen. 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