Another Echo of Vietnam

One wonders how much the American commitment to Vietnamese freedom is also a commitment to American pride–the two seem to have become part of the same package. When we talk about the freedom of South Vietnam, we may be thinking about how disagreeable it would be to accept a solution short of victory; we may be thinking about how our pride would be injured if we settled for less than we set out to achieve; we may be thinking of our reputation as a great power, fearing that a compromise settlement would shame us before the world, marking us as a second-rate people with flagging courage and determination.

After remarking that such worries ill befit such a powerful and successful nation as ours (though he can understand why the French or Chinese might feel this way), he quotes from the following testimony by George Kennan in Fulbright’s Foreign Relations Committee hearings that year:

There is more respect to be won in the opinion of the world by a resolute and courageous liquidation of unsound positions than in the most stubborn pursuit of extravagant or unpromising objectives.

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