Problems for the futureThere are sobering problems still remaining in Vietnam:
Enemy Capabilities and Intentions.
Despite heavy losses, the North Vietnamese have the manpower, the logistical network and the dedication to continue fighting if they wish. Although their main force units have been greatly reduced, they still pose a considerable threat, especially in military regions I and II in South Vietnam. Hanoi could instead use its buildup of forces in South Laos and northeastern Cambodia to step up its pressures against the Cambodian government or to increase its hold on Cambodian territory. In any event, Communist terrorist activities, assassinations, and kidnappings continue to exact a tragic toll from the Vietnamese people.
The Vietnamization Process.
Vietnamization made very encouraging advances during 1970. The fundamental question remains: Can the South Vietnamese fully stand on their own against a determined enemy? We -and more importantly the South Vietnamese- are confident that they can. Substantial problems remain, however: improving the leadership of South Vietnamese forces at all levels; enhancing their ability to take on support as well as combat functions; providing assistance to Cambodia and bettering Vietnamese-Cambodian understanding; rooting out the Viet Cong infrastructure in the countryside; assuring political stability in the cities; managing the strains on the Vietnamese economy as we continue to Vietnamize other aspects of the conflict; and moving against corruption which not only poisons the moral atmosphere but also carries potential political impact. This is a formidable agenda, but South Vietnamese accomplishments to date demonstrate their capacity to deal with it.
The Negotiating Stalemate.
Our intensive efforts in 1970 failed to yield progress in the Paris negotiations. We frankly expected that our elaboration of political principles, the appointment of Ambassador Bruce, and the October 7 peace initiative would produce some movement from the other side. We will not give up on negotiations, though the past year indicated that it will be extremely difficult to overcome the enemy's mix of doctrine, calculations and suspicion. There is the additional fact that, as our forces decline, the role we can play on many aspects of a settlement is also bound to decline.
The substantial record of achievement in the first two years of this administration cannot obscure one fundamental fact; the fighting continues.
If winding down the war is my greatest satisfaction in foreign policy, the failure to end it is my deepest disappointment. We will not be content until all conflict is stilled. This sentiment was the driving force behind our proposal for a cease-fire. It is at the core of our policy, for as I said on April 20:
The death of a single man in war, whether he is an American, a South Vietnamese, a Viet Cong, or a North Vietnamese, is a human tragedy. That is why we want to end this war and achieve a just peace. We call upon our adversaries to join us in working at the conference table toward that goal.
I once again ask the other side to work for a settlement that will stop the fighting, meet the concerns of all parties and last because all want it to last.