The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, March 22, 1971, Page PAGE 5, Image 5

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    Mankiewicz and Braden
The end of Viet namizafion
W ASHINGTON-lt is still
possible if one places more
value on captured rice than on
Asian lives to call the invasion
of Cambodia "a success," but
that is no longer true of the
operation in Laos. As the
South Vietnamese conduct
their current "sweep"-a
headlong retreat back to the
border- the perfectly good old
word "rout" seems more in
What happened? An
Associated Press dispatch from
Saigon this week summed it
up: "South Vietnamese troops
abandoned another fire base in
Laos in the face of heavy
enemy pressure overnight,
spiking and leaving behind
their artillery pieces, military
sources said today. The
abandonment was ordered
because U. S. helicopters could
no longer supply the base."
The South Vietnamese, if
there are enough helicopters
left to airlift them out, will
have completed their retreat
back to the border by April 1 ,
they have announced. They
have suffered heavy casualties
and withdrew immediately
from the positions around
Tchepone-the only area in
which they were outside the
range of U.S. artillery-as soon
as a North Vietnamese attack
It even appears they never
reached Tchepcne, an early
announced objective, but were
airlifted nearby by our
helicopters so the American
pressreporting that the
campaign was bogged
down-could report a victory .
But the drive was indeed
bogged down, and the South
Vietnamese, having been badly
mauled in the only battles
which were fought, had no
desire to fight another one for
the same of U.S. morale.
And this army, carried into
battle by American
helicopters, supported by as
many as 2,000 bombing and
strafing sorties a day, totally
dependent on us for defense
and supply, spiking Its guns
and heading for home one
month before even the earliest
pre-invasion estimates-this is
the army President Nixon said
can "hack it on its own."
The implications of this
debacle are not totally clear. It
may be clear, as we have been
assured, that the North
Vietnamese are "hurting" so
badly that they have neither
the will nor the capacity to
fight in South Vietnam. It may
even be-although it seems
highly doubtful--that the
enemy's ability to mount an
offensive anywhere has been
delayed by months through
the destruction of the Ho Chi
Minn Trail.
It may even be-as Secretary
of Defense Melvin Laird has
now put on the record-that
U.S. troop withdrawals will
continue until the magic
moment of November, 1972,
leaving only a "residual force."
But what is clear beyond
doublt is that the army of
South Vietnam (ARVN), with
more massive support than any
power has provided in history,
cannot "hack it" and that it
continues to have neither
ability nor stomach for a fight.
MONDAY, MARCH 22, 1971
There are two conclusions
to draw from the ARVN'S
humiliation in Laos, and each
has to do with a presidential
election. The first is the
re-election campaign this year
of President Nguyen Van
Thieu. It is hard to find
anyone outside the U.S.
Embassy in Saigon who does
With a Youth Pass
port card you get Vi
off on all TWA
domestic flights, on a
standby basis. And
reduced rates at many
places you'll stay.
With TWA's Getaway
Card, you can charge
airfare, hotels, meals,
cars, just about any
thing to just about
anywhere. And then
take two years to pay.
not believe that Thieu would
lose a free and fair election, as
indeed he would have four
years ago if we had not helped
him rig a victory.
As the message begins to
spread through South Vietnam
that the ARVN took
enormous losses, physically
and psychically in Laos,
rag) Youth Passport
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tftslr Cttri
So. 4000274
TWA's Getaway Program
largely in an attempt to
convince the American people
that Vietnamization has
succeeded, Ky's chances will
be even less. This means either
a government in Saigon which
will seek peace, or massive
U.S. political intervention to
keep Ky afloat.
The second impact is on
. cri (Yi
our campaign in 1972. It may
be that the number of U.S.
troops-largely airmen- will be
between 50,000 and 100,000.
But whatever the figure turns
out to be, Vietnamization is in
a shambles, and we know now
that if the preservation of the
Saigon government is a war
aim, we will have to fight that
Youth Passport cards
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