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Lodge Reflects on Vietnam

June 27, 1964 - Henry Cabot Lodge has looked back on his 10 months as Ambassador to South Vietnam and concluded that the formula has at last been found for success against the Communist Viet Cong guerrillas without likelihood of a general war in Asia.

“A strong, positive, easily discernible, favorable trend has not yet manifested itself,” he said, measuring his words carefully. “Yet there are a number of developments that make me think we are on the right track and this this effort is going to be successful.”

Lodge, who has resigned his post in Saigon, spoke today in what was the first formal news conference he has given in South Vietnam.

He is leaving later today for Washington to join the campaign of Governor William Scranton of Pennsylvania for the Republican Presidential nomination.

At a formal reception yesterday, Premier Nguyen Khanh awarded Lodge the highest civilian and military decorations of South Vietnam, the Grand Cross of the National Order and the Cross of Gallantry.

“All those who have taken part in helping the Vietnamese people in their struggle may consider themselves lucky,” Lodge said, “and those who miss the chance will regret it.”

At his news conference, he said he did not see “much partisan value for anybody” in the situation in Vietnam, noting that political leaders of both parties from the Truman Administration on had participated in the commitment to Vietnam.

He said he would “naturally” discuss what stand the Republicans should take on Vietnam when he conferred with Scranton and Governor Nelson Rockefeller, who is also supporting Scranton.

Lodge spoke sarcastically of Senator Barry Goldwater, specifically of the Arizonan’s suggestion that he should now tell “what has gone wrong in Vietnam.”

“It’s awfully nice of him to give me free advice and his assignments, but I’m not accepting assignments from him, and I don’t accept his definition of what my duty ought to be,” Lodge said.

How will the Vietnam war end? Lodge was asked.

“It will end when there aren’t any more Viet Cong insurgents,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that they’re all dead. It means they’ve decided not to be Viet Cong any more.

“And the reason they decide not to be Viet Cong any more is that it’s too dangerous — they’re liable to get killed. It will be too nice not to settle down in some nice village somewhere, eat rice and pineapples, and raise pigs, eat ducks, and enjoy yourself.”

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