Japan After Vietnam
BACK in the years when we spent all our time arguing about Vietnam, there were the arguments with the moralists and the arguments with the realists. I rather early gave up on the former. It did not do to aver that America was not doing much that most countries would not do when they thought their deepest interests affected. America must be better than most countries, indeed all countries. America, when one became involved in such arguments, did not seem to have changed very much since Martin Chuzzlewit had his unhappy time there. One could point out that morality is a rather double-edged kind of blade, and turn away: if it is immoral to drop a bomb on someone, it is also immoral to back down on one’s solemn promises.
The arguments with the realists were concerned with such finite problems as a definition of American interests. For those of us who long supported the Vietnam intervention from a sense of vague apprehension, the trouble was a feeling that the matter was not one for argument at all, but for action. There was nothing really relevant save to try something and see whether it worked, or to refrain from trying something and see if certain consequences followed. We feared that even though American interests might not be involved immediately in Vietnam, the results of a failure in Vietnam might so involve them.
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