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threat to us. How can they build a really big, modern air force, a really big, modern navy, a really big nuclear, strategic power compared to what the Soviet Union and the United States have done? If they can't do that, aren't we wasting, as I say, wasting a tremendous amount of resources on the old "yellow periľ that William Randolph Hearst talked about at the beginning of the century—this mythological notion that because they have 850 million people, that means they are four times as powerful as we are? Actually, it is like building a tremendous force against Mussolini. It seems to me just in terms of a threat to the United States or anything that is separated from Mainland China by 2 miles of water like Quemoy and Matsu there is nothing there. It is true that the contiguous border countries-Korea, Southeast Asia, perhaps Pakistan and India—there is some degree of challenge which I would hope we can meet through the United Nations and through collective action.
But as far as any American overseas threat is concerned, hasn't it been exaggerated? I may be overstating the other side, and I probably am, but I just wonder if we can justify this colossal, extravagant expenditure of resources we are pouring into this area. That is the burden of my question.
Mr. DORRILL. I don't want to monopolize the conversation.
Chairman PROXMIRE. No; but you go at it. You might want to respond to that.
Mr. DORRILL. Part of the present expenditure, of course, rests on historical assumptions which are no longer, perhaps, true, and I think we are trying to make adjustments in policies to make up for the changed assumptions.
I would like to distinguish though, Senator, between an attack, a direct Chinese attack, say, on the continental United States or on U.S. property or forces.
Chairman PROXMIRE. On Indonesia, on the Philippines or on Japan or, unless they can swim, they have millions of swimmers thanks to Mao, but they don't have a navy or the kind of air force necessary to pose a genuine military threat.
Mr. DORRILL. I think there is a difference between a direct attack on U.S. interests, which I, too, would tend to minimize, and a coming into conflict with U.S. interests which, in the interplay of political forces, could lead to direct combat, but would not necessarily do so. It might simply compromise U.S. interests, such as the loss of allies; and I consider, for example, the U.S.-Japan alliance a very important thing that should be preserved. I would not like to see that damaged.
It is in this latter sense rather than in the sense of a direct threat of Chinese attack on us that I think we are concerned.
Chairman PROXMIRE. Mr. Hinton.
Mr. Hinton. Senator, I agree with you every time I pay my taxes, but this is not one of those times. I am trying to speak as a political scientist, and I have very mixed feelings about this extremely important question you have raised. I think there is no question that the United States has over-reacted militarily in terms of the aid program. The stationing of the American forces and so on, in Asia, with the idea, of course, of coping with the Sino-Soviet alliance, and fighting the Korean war and then preventing another Korean war-I think there is no doubt that this syndrome was the main thing that led us, as I would say, to overmilitarize the war in Vietnam.
On the other hand, since this country operates largely on the basis of a pendulum phenomenon, I think now there is the opposite danger. Whether the expenditure figures show it yet or not-of course, you would know it far better than I-I think there is a long-term danger of swinging to the other extreme of overdisengaging from Asia, with very serious political effects.
One thing I think is important in this connection is that whatever one may say about the presence of U.S. ground forces overseas in terms of their possible involvement in actual combat and other things, they have—they can have at least a remarkably stabilizing effect that the presence of U.S. air and naval forces in a given area simply does not have.
Chairman PROXMIRE. Let me just ask at that point, how long does that stabilizing effect work? We have had-we have tried that stabilizing effect in Europe; we have had our troops there now 27 years; that is a whole generation. Are they going to stay 100 years?
Mr. HINTON. They may very well have to.
Chairman PROXMIRE. This is incredible to me. These countries—I know this is irrelevant to our subject here—but these countries in Europe have greater population -- Free Europe-than the Soviet Union has; they may have more productive economies. I would agree we have to provide a nuclear umbrella and naval and air support and substantial troop, support, but 320,000 forever? Can't we ever expect these countries that have these strong economies, that are devoting far less of their resources to defense than we are, who have the direct responsibility of defending their own countries, can't we expect those countries to do more? And the same thing is true to a lesser extent, I would agree, in a different way, I should say, in Asia, where you have a Japan which has immense economic potential, and other countriesIndonesia and other countries-Formosa—that have substantial economic strength. Do we have to expect our troops to be stationed over there?
And then you look at what is happening to our troops. Not only do we have a drug problem and a crime problem and a morale problem in Vietnam, we have it in Europe.
Mr. HINTON. We have it here.
Chairman PROXMIRE. We have it wherever troops have to sit on their tail forever and do nothing; it just goes against nature. They are away from their women; they are away from their families; they are away from their homes. It is a very demoralizing, destructive kind of a situation, and I would agree that this isn't a Sunday-school world; we can't walk away from this all at once, but I would hope through the U.N. or some kind of agreement with our allies, and if our allies are unwilling to take part in this, maybe we ought to reexamine our own assumptions.
Mr. HINTON. Well, of course, every action is going to have very serious costs, and one has to balance out to see the costs of alternatives.
It seems to me that any small country, whether you are talking about a West European country or an Asian country, looking at its much bigger neighbor—the Soviet Union or China—and realizing this is going to be a long-term relationship, realizing that other country is not only far stronger militarily than it is but also has certain objectives with respect to its own part of the world that are not altogether encouraging or friendly, is going to have some serious morale problems, a problem of political morale over the long term. And the classic case that keeps being cited is, of course, Finland, which has been reduced not to a total Soviet satellite certainly but to a country which makes no important move, even in internal politics, without checking with Moscow. Moscow is able to veto its policies. This is a situation we should try to avoid.
Chairman PROXMIRE. You are not implying that there is no hope for Germany or Italy?
Mr. Hinton. In the long term perhaps. In the long term I think it is a distinct possibility:
Chairman PROXMIRE. Really?
Chairman PRO XMIRE. Why don't they put their money where their mouth is? Why don't they put some of their resources
Mr. Hinton. It is a very good question. Maybe it should be addressed to them. Obviously it should, and in the long run there may be no hope of avoiding Finlandization in 25 or 30 years; it is a serious problem and one that a lot more attention should be addressed to than is, and the answer is not to increase our ground forces here and now or pull them out here and now but to think in long-range terms. I frankly have no answer, but I think the stampede to get our troops out is not the answer.
Chairman PROXMIRE. I am not saying a stampede; I think I would like to see a stampede out of Vietnam. I think we ought to have been out yesterday.
Mr. HINTON. I think the Chinese want us out of the mainland of Asia and the immediate periphery now before the Soviets or Japanese can fill the vacuum, and whatever balancing role we need to play in their eyes with respect to the Soviet Union we can play with our ICBM's.
Chairman PROXMIRE. Is there no stock at all to the argument we have received from some witnesses that we made such mistakes in moving into Vietnam with this enormous bombing and direct involvement with American troops; that we are making Communists out there? It is almost incredible that the most powerful nation militarily in the world, with the air power we have and the terrific power we have in Vietnam, is on the losing side against a fifth-rate power? Secretary Laird has said the Russians and Chinese have been approaching it the right way; they have not been putting any of their troops in; they have not been giving one-fourth of the military aid in arms and equipment that we have given South Vietnam. Why? Because when the white man gets in, when Big Brother gets in, when Uncle Sugar, Uncle Sam gets in the way we do we create terrific animosity. Everybody is always for the underdog and little guy and it is understandable and it seems to me that our participation under these circumstances has a very, very powerful" counterproductive force that we overlook.
How about that? Mr. HINTON. Well, I wouldn't go that far. In the first place, the Chinese and Soviets have done well because they have been backing stronger sides to begin with.
Chairman ProXMIRE. How stronger? They have the same population on both sides; why should they be stronger?
Mr. Hinton. North Vietnam's population is smaller.
Chairman PROXMIRE. About 17 million north and 17 million south, roughly.
Mr. Hinton. I beg your pardon; the North Vietnamese are larger, but this is not a significant difference. The point is organization
Chairman PROXMIRE. That's right. Mr. Hinton. Yes, above all political organization and these kinds of things, and then experience in this type of warfare, which in the case of the North Vietnamese goes way back. They would have had the whole of French Indochina in 1945 if the British had not moved into the south and Chinese Nationalists into the north as occupation forces.
Chairman PROXMIRE. What difference would it have made?
Chairman PROXMIRE. Was it worth 50,000 dead Americans, 250,000 wounded and $200 billion?
Mr. Hinton. Of course, what I am saying, this was in 1945 and this was part of that highly organized strategy on the part of the Communist movement. In other words, their successes are not attributable to American mistakes in the south.
Chairman ProXMIRE. To get back to the relevant point-it is my fault that we got away from it. Don't you feel that any actions taken in Vietnam have been because we have had in the back of our minds a fear that China was going to somehow overrun Southeast Asia, and that we have learned, if we have learned nothing else in Vietnam, the Vietnamese are tough people who don't like the Chinese; they have been resisting them 1,000 years and probably would be able to resist them if we don't destroy and enfeeble their country?
Mr. Hinton. I agree with you; we have been worried about, in the West, about China overrunning Southeast Asia. We don't do that now about the Chinese overrunning Hanoi and we have even gotten some help from the Chinese and Russians to manage Hanoi; we are not yet there but we are getting there.
Chairman ProXMIRE. We will end up with the Chinese, just letting Vietnam fall into their lap because of what we have done. What irony. My point is, we are now teaming up with Russia and China to get some kind of settlement there.
Mr. HINTON. Right.
Chairman PROXMIRE. We have bombed and blasted North Vietnam so fantastically, when you think we have dropped twice the tonnage of bombs in Vietnam dropped in all countries throughout World War II, so destroyed and damaged their country that we may have enfeebled them to the point where they would be a ripe target for China.
Mr. Hinton. I think it is very unlikely. There is no indication as of now that their political will is in any way impaired.
Chairman PROXMIRE. I think it is a possibility.
Colonel Fraser, this is a kind of a military question and we come to you last.
Colonel FRASER. There are two ancient military cliches which I think we ought to look at here. One is the theory of the attraction of the vacuum; and the other is the idea that the weapon does not care who it kills. Both of these apply in our thinking here. I am not defending this, I am simply trying to put this forward as the background against which we must work.
I said earlier that China sees us as hostile. They do not see us as friends, allies, or beneficiaries.
The question before us is the nature and intensity of Chinese evangelism. How far will they go, and in what directions, to assert some level of control, hegemony, if you will, over anything contiguous to them?
Chairman PROXMIRE. Well, Colonel, in view of what you have told us, wouldn't it be logical to expect that the Chinese military thinking is almost entirely defensive now that in addition to all the massive encirclement I have talked about—80 percent of our foreign military assistance program is directed at China, also we have an active military effort in Vietnam directed in part at China; also 1 million Russians in addition on the north, as you say, a tremendously powerful force threatening them on the north, wouldn't the Chinese military effort, which as you point out is not insignificant, this military effort probably be designed to simply defend their own country?
Colonel FRASER. I was about to say-
Colonel FRASER. I was about to say, sir, that I did not think that the Chinese would attempt to assert whatever it is they want to assert over their neighbors by the use of military force. However, there is again, as I said, the ancient cliche of the vacuum. For 25 years or longer we have made clients and dependents of a number of Asian nations with strong support. We have given $2.5 billion in military assistance to the Republic of China on Taiwan. These people have become clients; they have become alined with us; they have become completely tied to us.
Now, granted that the military presence of the United States, massive U.S. forces on the ground, is not an essential-one could argue with Professor Hinton about this. There still is the question of what would happen should we suddenly not just withdraw our physical support but also, by abdicating the Nixon doctrine, abandon these people, leaving them with a very sharply, rapidly diminishing military capability. Does this tempt anyone, or does this make the country that much more vulnerable to whatever it is the Chinese want to do?
Chairman PROXMIRE. One way or another, we have to get out of there. I think that all evidence and testimony I have seen is, as I say to the effect that it is counterproductive.
It does not build any strength in South Vietnam; it enfeebles it; it weakens it.
We are told South Korea has a bigger army than North Korea. We are told in Formosa they have a very formidable military force. I don't see why we can't pull out of those countries, why they wouldn't be reasonably safe.
Colonel FRASER. Well, if you want to
Chairman PROXMIRE. Reasonably secure, and if they wouldn't be secure I am just not sure it is worth this endless commitment on our part.
Colonel FRASER. You have to take this, I think, country by country and in some detail, Senator. For example, I would agree with you that Taiwan has, with a modest modernization input, just about everything it needs to defend itself from any conceivable attack now or in the immediate future.