To the Editor:
May an ordinary diplomatic correspondent, not at all a high-powered expert, raise one point of comment on your round-table discussion, “Containing China” [May]? None of the members of the panel and none of the additional speakers later on mentioned the Republic of China at Taiwan, Formosa.
Anyone can write a powerful and only too obvious piece about it. I should like to raise only two points: that the Chinese Nationalists have the strongest and best-equipped army, navy, and air force in the Far East after those of the U.S., China, and the Soviet Union, and probably more troops on the ground than the Russians; and secondly, that Formosa claims to be China, is recognized as such in the UN, and that as long as it is there it constitutes for all to see an undeniable, living question-mark to the very existence of Communist China; and, of course, it could not last without American help of the highest order.
Now the fact of Formosa may or may not be a good thing, but what I marvel at is that its very existence, . . . central to present and future relations between the U.S. and China, . . . has not been acknowledged.
May I add . . . that I and, I am sure, anyone else interested in these issues, from Porto and Penzance to Peking and Pjom Penh, will regard the fact of this omission as more significant than the existence of Formosa itself.
L. R. Muray
To the Editor:
While reading your excellent discussion of China, I was most interested in the question raised about the effects of an experience like Vietnam on our young men. The following was included in a letter I received recently from a young friend in Saigon with the air force:
. . . What a shame that in America the politicians make better tragedies than the artists. We are caught in a succession of events which follow each other by an apparent necessity and yet the whole train makes for a monstrous and evil absurdity. There are times when the (U.S.) intellectual community seems as much at odds with (and as impotent in the face of) the political community as in Germany between the world wars. How, when we’ve stumbled into this thing, can we hope to avoid war with China someday? It is really frightening, and Johnson keeps saying things that sound a little bit wilder each time. And George Hamilton is deferred to support his mother. And Lurleen Wallace is going to be governor of Alabama. . . .
Later on in the same letter my friend philosophizes at length on suicide and concludes: “I’ve been thinking about it lately in terms of myself. I can morally sanction it now and even commend it—but I am positive I could not overcome the fear.” He is scheduled to return home in August. . . .
T. V. LoCicero
Oak Park, Michigan
To the Editor:
In the course of the fascinating discussion on China and Vietnam in your May issue. . . . it was asked, more than once, why it was that the United States, at the end of World War II, did not move heaven and earth to prevent the reassertion of French hegemony in Indochina. The answer is given by Cordell Hull in his memoirs, Volume II, when he writes:
Our prime difficulty with regard to the Asiatic colonial farmers, of course, was to induce the colonial powers . . . to adopt our ideas with regard to independent people. . . . But we could not press them too far with regard to the southern Pacific in view of the fact that we were seeking the closest possible cooperation with them in Europe. We could not alienate them in the Orient and expect to work with them in Europe.
This difficulty plagued the United States continuously after the war, so that, at a somewhat later period, Miriam S. Farley was able to write in her extended essay, “United States Relations with South East Asia: 1950-55”:
American efforts to exert pressure on France were always inhibited by the United States’ commitment to NATO and later to EDC. Fearful of jeopardizing these larger European objectives it dared not risk a show-down with France on Indo-China.
[Further correspondence on our symposium, “Containing China,” will appear in the September issue.]