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Tuesday, 29 March 1966

Mr BEAZLEY (Fremantle) .- Last week I asked the Prime Minister (Mr. Harold Holt) a question designed to elicit the Government's war aims, and the answer the right honorable gentleman gave was that the aim of the Government was " honorable negotiations ". I gathered from the warm " Hear, hears " from behind him that honorable members opposite regarded that as a war aim. Conducting " honorable negotiations " is not an aim. It is the decision to sit around the table with the opponents. What the aim of the negotiations would be was not explained by the Prime Minister. The most significant feature of his statement is that it means on the part of the Government the acceptance of the Hanoi regime. If you do not accept the Hanoi regime there is no one to negotiate, with.

I would say the logic of every Government utterance on this subject of Vietnam in this debate and over a good many years is the annihilation of the Hanoi regime. If Hanoi has the character described the Government cannot possibly have a compromise war - a war accepting Hanoi. If Hanoi is the source of the kind of dangers to Australia that the honorable member for Higinbotham (Mr.. Chipp)-, has indicated, the plain logic is not to compromise with it but to destroy it. This at least is where Barry Goldwater was logical. If the Hanoi regime creates a situation of critical danger in South East Asia, then the annihilation of the Hanoi regime and not a return to a boundary dividing Vietnam is the logical action for the West. Instead of this we are involved in a kind of compromise war in which major weapons are not being used against the Hanoi regime and major targets not attacked.

It would be best if we left the electioneering on this subject until next November or whenever the Government decides to hold an election, should it be earlier. In the light of the Prime Minister's statement about honorable negotiations, we need to study what the powers involved in Vietnam declare to be their motives in this situation. The demonstrations around the world against the war in Vietnam I believe to be in part an attempt by the Soviet Union to answer China's charge that the Soviet Union's policy will not defeat the United States of America and that there is no other way of defeating the United States than by what China aims to produce, namely, a nuclear war. The conviction of the Soviet Union is that the basic purpose of China's policy is that the United States and the Soviet Union should destroy one another in a nuclear war leaving China supreme Just as the Soviet Union in the Korean war left China to be her proxy to fight the United States - and remember the Soviet Union could have vetoed United Nations actions and did not - so I believe China is fighting the U.S.A. by proxy through the North Vietnamese regime at present.

There still stand in contraction to its words the Government's trade policy towards China and the charge of inconsistency which the Government cannot escape. Every time Government spokesmen refer to the menace of China they are either sincere or they are directing their utterances to the Australian electorate. Every time the Government develops its trade policy with China it consolidates its country vote. It is not good enough to say that Australia's trade with China is only in wool and wheat. The fact that China does not have to produce her own wheat has enabled her to divert resources to increase her military potential. The Prime Minister and his supporters have spoken about the menace of China for 15 years and in certain years, while they have spoken this way, they have sent tq China as much as 5,000 cwt. of rutile. This is a vital element in the steel industry. It is a vital element in arms production and an essential element in the making of rocket engines and aircraft engines. The Government has assisted China to develop delivery systems for atomic weapons. The Government's policy does not add up to a consistent policy for Asia. This contradiction needs to be faced.

The second point 1 want to make is that I believe the honorable course for the Government is to see that the Australian people know what the Government's motive is. The Government has not a policy for Vietnam. Its motive is quite different, but I do not charge that its motive is dishonorable. 1 think it would be honorable if the Government frankly said: " We expect to get in the future the protection of the Uni:ed States and therefore we pay in advance for that alliance by assisting the United States now ". If the Government stood by that simplicity and did not pretend that it has a policy for Asia or a policy for Vietnam when it has not, its position would be a strong one, if inadequate, and not disreputable or particularly to be condemned. Whether or not the United States is mistaken in its Vietnam policy, those people who are critics of the United States are not to be condemned as traitors. Those who were the main critics of United States policy nine years ago were honorable gentlemen from the Government side of the House, when the policy they pursued was diametrically opposed to the policy of the United Slates in Suez. This was disastrous, because the policy they pursued in Suez needed to be underwritten by the United States if it were to succeed. But no one in Australia called Government supporters, highly critical of Dulles and Eisenhower, traitors because they disagreed with United States policy. It should be possible in Australia to disagree with the policy of the United States in Vietnam without being regarded as a traitor.

It is important to look at what the United States says are its long term and short term objectives. To accuse the United States of imperialism in the sense that it wants the economic resources of Vietnam is nonsense. Whether the United States is right or wrong in its judgment, its motivation in Vietnam is the belief that it is assisting in the self determination of the people. There have been times when the United States has failed to pursue that policy. The Papuan people of West New Guinea have been betrayed by the refusal to accord them that right in the past. The view of the United

States as to how it should foster self determination is not infallible.

President Johnson defined the short term policy of the United States in Vietnam when he said this -

We will not be defeated. We will not grow tired. We will not withdraw, either openly or under the cloak of a meaningless agreement.

There is not the least doubt that the United States has the power to give effect to these words. The United States will not be thrown out of Vietnam by the Vietcong, or by the Hanoi regime.

The long term policy of the United States was given by Bundy, the Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs.

Sir Wilfrid Kent Hughes (CHISHOLM, VICTORIA) - Do you mean William Bundy, not McGeorge Bundy?

Mr BEAZLEY - I refer to William P. Bundy, the Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs. He stated the long term policy as the security of individual nations from external aggression and subversion, the political and economic and social development of individual nations and the maturing of a healthy spirit of nationalism, free of the scars of past history, local rivalries and particularly past colonial domination.

I will come back to the policy of the United States, apart from that statement, if I have time. The other statement to which attention should be given is that of Ho Chi Minh. It establishes that the dream of the Prime Minister of honorable negotiations is a pipe dream. Ho Chi Minh said that he had a four point programme. It is -

Recognition of the basic national rights of the Vietnamese people which are independence, sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity.

That obviously means the joining of the two territories. The programme continues -

In strict conformity with the Geneva agreements, the U.S. Government must withdraw its troops, military personnel and weapons, ammunition and war materials of all kinds from South Vietnam, dismantle the U.S. military bases there, abolish its military alliance with the South Vietnam administration and at the same time stop its policy of intervention and aggression m South Vietnam. The U.S. Government must stop all its acts of war against North Vietnam and put a definite end to all acts of encroachment upon the territory and sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam.

(2)   Pending the realisation of the peaceful reunification of Vietnam, while Vietnam it still temporarily divided in two, the military provisions of the 1954 Geneva agreements on Vietnam must be strictly respected: the two zones must refrain from joining any military alliance with foreign countries, there must be no foreign military bases, troops or military personnel in their respective territory.

3.   The affairs of South Vietnam must be settled by the South Vietnamese people themselves-

That sounds attractive but it continues - in accordance with the programme of the South Vietnam National Front for Liberation without any foreign intervention.

4.   The realisation of the peaceful reunification of Vietnam must be settled by the people in the two zones without foreign. intervention

The latter points are unexceptionable, except that Ho Chi Minh insists in advance that the decisions of the people of South Vietnam are not to be free and unfettered but are to be in accordance with the programme of the National Liberation Front. If those are his terms, then there will be no scope for negotiations.

Vietnam is a history of tragedies. Consider William P. Bundy's first point- 4he security of individual nations from external aggression and subversion. Unfortunately, there are responsible suggestions that Lodge, the United States Ambassador in Vietnam, was identified at one stage with the overthrowing of the nearest approach South Vietnam has had to a government resting on consent The regime of Diem was open to criticism but I do not believe that any government in South Vietnam will be an example of what the Americans would describe as Jeffersonian democracy, nor do I think that the present Government in North Vietnam is an example of that kind of democracy. For nine years South Vietnam had stable Government under Ngo Dinh Diem. According to John Richardson, who was the head of the Central Intelligence Agency in South Vietnam, Lodge had not been in the country for five minutes before he was opposed to Ngo Dinh Diem. Lodge's own account - I am not interested in other people's accounts - of his last telephone conversation with Ngo Dinh Diem when the presidential palace was under fire is, in my view, a disgrace to Lodge. John Richardson went back to America under a cloud because of Lodge's opposition to him. He was subsequently rehabilitated by President Kennedy just before Kennedy's death, when Kennedy began to realise what had actually happened in Vietnam. 1 do not want to mention any comments on the overthrow of Ngo Dinh Diem apart from the comments of some of the people affected. Communists desired his overthrow. Ho Chi Minh's comment was very simple. When the news was conveyed to him he looked quite stunned and said -

I could scarcely have believed that the Americans would be so stupid.

Nguyen Huu Tho, the President of the National Liberation Front, which is the Communist shadow government in South Vietnam, said that the assassinations of Ngo Dinh Diem and Nhu - were gifts from Heaven to us. . . .

Our enemy has been seriously weakened from all points of view, military, political and administrative. The special shock troops which were an essential support for the Diem regime have been eliminated. The military command has been turned upside down and weakened by purges.

For the same reason the police apparatus set up over the years with great care by Diem is utterly shattered, especially at the base. The principal chiefs of security and the secret police on which mainly depend the protection of the regime and the repression of the revolutionary Vietcong movement have been eliminated, purged. Troops, officers and officials of the Army and Administration are completely lost, they have no more confidence in their chiefs and have no idea to whom they should be loyal. From the political viewpoint the weakening of our adversary is still clearer. Political organisations like the labour and humanist party, the national revolutionary movement, the young republicans, and the movement for women's solidarity-

These were all Diem's organs - and others which constituted appreciable support for the regime have been dissolved and eliminated.

In the neighbouring State of Cambodia Prince Norodom Sihanouk reacted. At this stage he had American advisers and he believed that the Americans had assisted in overthrowing Diem. One of his chief advisers made this comment -

Sihanouk hated Diem and Nhu. This was inevitable. Vietnam is Cambodia's historic enemy. But the Prince is legitimist. When he saw what the Vietnamese military did to Diem and Nhu with the help of the Americans, he made a decision.

It was to deprive the American military of any power or connection with Cambodian military so that the United States could never try its intrigues there. He saw that Diem and Nhu had been friends of the United States. After what the United States did to them, Sihanouk saw no point in having such " friends " here. Sihanouk dropped association with the United States.

The most disgraceful statement of all is that of one of the major assassins, General Big

Minh. That is actually his name, "Big" apparently being the equivalent of a Christian name. When asked why the Generals had assassinated Diem, speaking in the safety of exile he said -

We had no alternative. They had to be killed. Diem could not be allowed to live because he was much too respected among simple gullible people in the countryside, especially the Catholics and the refugees. We had to kill his brother Nhu because he was so widely feared - and he had created organisations that were the arms of his personal power.

There are other quotations, but I have not time to use them. All 1 can say is that it appears to me that Lodge accepted from an interesting character, Thich Tri Quang, who still appears to be a power in Vietnam - supposedly a Buddhist leader - the view that anything that Diem did to keep order was persecution of Buddhism.

It would be a good idea if in discussing the complexities of Vietnam we abandoned propaganda. For instance, I think that the statement by the Prime Minister that 43 towns were not in the hands of the Vietcong and this fact spells victory, was a sadly deluded one. I have not time to trace all the theory of Communist subversive warfare, but 1 can say that the philosophy and tactics of Mao, accepted by Giap in Vietnam, are that it is not good strategy to seek to hold the towns until one is ready to take them; instead hold the countryside. There is one new variation to this strategy and it is Guevara's variation introduced in Cuba and adopted to the towns of Latin America where there are so many unemployed. Ernesto Guevara's belief is that a force can be created from among the unemployed to act in co-ordination with country strategy. 1 believe that in Vietnam the application of that variation strategy is to use base subversion in towns in what appear to be militant Buddhist organisations to create constant demonstrations. Otherwise to hold the country is the Vietcong aim.

Simplifications about allegiance in South Vietnam are, I think, sheer propaganda. There is evidence that the Vietcong collect more taxation in Saigon than does the Government of South Vietnam. Half the population of Saigon is Chinese. There are

Chinese businessmen who pay their taxes to the Vietcong in Hong Kong. This extraction of money from the wealthy - protection money - can be traced back as a tactic to Lenin. In Giap's theory, the revolutionary forces must be strictly fair in their dealings with wealthy people so that the tax flow will continue. The example is given of a businessman in Saigon who asked that his taxation be postponed. It was agreed, by the Vietcong, just as the Australian Taxation Branch might do, that this request was quite reasonable. However, the local Vietcong agent made a mistake and, acting on the assumption that the taxes had not been paid out of defiance, he threw bombs into the man's shop. As a result the local Vietcong agent was executed by the Vietcong, an apology was sent to the businessman and compensation was paid. This is the degree of regularisation of Vietcong finances in Saigon.

It has been the strategy of Thich Tri Quang to play on the ambitions of certain of the generals, and since the death of Diem the generals have as a result been deeply divided - we have had another example of that division this week. The confusion in South Vietnam has been worse confounded. Quite clearly the South Vietnamese regime is going to depend for many years on troops from outside and we are going to be faced with what is basically an occupation for pacification rather than a war in the conventional sense. Sir Alec Douglas-Home assumed that this might last 20 years. 1 cannot make that estimate, but I think prolonged occupation is really what is taking place. The Government's strong statements against North Vietnam and China do not correspond with the policy that is actually being pursued. The Hanoi regime has been tacitly accepted as the one with which we negotiate.

Debate (on motion by Mr. Turner) adjourned.

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