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Fonda, Ellsberg Lead

Fonda, Ellsberg Lead image Fonda, Ellsberg Lead image
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Despite years of anti-war activism, thc war in Indochina goes on. Tlie withdrawal of American troops has not meant less US involvement. Over 510 million a day in US aid is keeping the fighting alive and preventing implementation of tlie Paris peace agreement. lt's still our war. Daniel Ellsberg and Jane Fonda carne to Ann Arbor last week to remind people that the Indochina War goes on, and that it still belongs to us. "When Americans started fighting in Indochina in the eariy sixties," Ellsberg told an overflow audience in Rackham auditorium Saturday night, "we were told it was really the Vietnamese' war. Then after 1965 it was our war, but we were winning. Then after 1 968 it was still our war, but we were getting out. Those were au lies. Vietnam was always our war, we've never been winning and we've never gotten out." Fonda and Ellsberg's appearance was sponsored by the local chapter of the Indochina Peace Campaign, started here last fall after an appearance by Fonda and her husband Tom Hayden. The rally was the local focus of the Second International Week of Concern, Sept. 29-Oct. 6, mounted by the national United Campaign to end U.S. aid to Thieu and Lon Nol in Cambodia, free al! political prisoners in South Vietnam and win universal and unconditional amnesty lor all war résisters. "What's happened is another chapter in the history of the war, mot thé history of any peace," commented Ellsberg. " J50.000 Vietnamese soldiers on bot h sides have been killed in thai year of peace. That s as high as any year of Üie war. .S5.000 civilians killed and wounded, according to the Kennedy subcommittee. 880.000 refugees during that year. So. for the Vietnamese, the war is still there. "The money that pays for the shells, and the shells themselves that killed those civilians come from America. It's still our war," he said. "We must never be satisfied until there is a real concrete peace brought about by our efforts," Fonda told the audience at Rackham. "We have to remain conscious of the fact that we are the people who are going to change American history." Besides speaking at Rackham, in the course of their 24-hour visit the two attended a fund-raiser at Dr. Ed Pierce's house in Ann Arbor, appeared on the Lou Gordon talk show in Detroit, and held a strategy session with local IPC organizers. Their message was the same everywhere. Don't be t'ooled by the appearance of effectiveness. Mass movements of the sixties made organized lobbying in Congress an effective tooi against the war which continúes in the seventies. More organizing will not only end the killing, but reorient American society in the process. Organizing A New Movement Unlike her previous visit, Fonda didn't dweil on the gory details of American imperialism in Vietnam. Instead, she and Ellsberg assumed their listeners knew about tiger cages and spent their time talking about what we can do to abolish them. Both stressed the power individuals had. either alone or collectively, to make a difference. "Both Dan and I can testify to the irnportance of the things you all did in the sixties," Fonda told the Rackham audience. "Fm a latecomer to the movement. What changed me? Soldiers, men who went to Vietnam because they believed in the war and thought it would be unpatriotic not to go. They came back and had the guts to stand up and say it's wrong and explain what had been going on in Vietnam. And people like yourselves who have been active for years, who took to the streets and demonstrated, who went to Washington. You forced people like me to begin to question things we accepted for a long time." When asked how many had been in Washington for the November 1969 moratorium, two-thirds of the listeners raised hands. Whether anti-war veterans or impressionable freshpeople who were teen or so at the time of the New Mobe, they tended to be ciad in denim, flannel sii ir ts and Karth shoes. "We've been told that campuses are apathetic," commented Ellsberg, "that the students don't care. That just can't be squared with audiences like this. Seems to me what they are here for and what they want to hear is what they can do." "We have been told that movements do not make a difference," said Fonda. "Particularly as women, we have been told that the only thing we can change is diapers. But we must remember that pittcd against us is the most powerful repressive apparatus in the worid. lt tries to convince us that what we do doesn't matter, but í'm here to teil you that isn't true. Ji isn't true. "I think of our efforts as Hule drops of water. There are huge mountain ranges in Vietnam, filled with caverns. and a Vietnamese once said to me, 'We don't think that these caverns were madeby supernatural powers-we're very well aware of the fact that our mountains have been hoilowed out by tiny little drops of water.' The Great Coverup Ellsberg talked about his personal experience in confronting the war machine, and he also talked about how the Watergate coverup was part of the larger coverup of the war which still goes on. Speaking of the Pentagon Papers and the Watergate transeripts, Ellsbergsaid: "Th ose documents are pounds and pounds of White House memos on how to deal with anti-war activists. The appearance of inertia, of Nixon's absolutely blind moment um and unresponsiveness to public pressure, was ilself a coverup. "Take the famous episode of Nixon watcliing a football game on televisión as one of the largest demonstrations in American history paraded past his door. In a memo to Nixon written more than a month before that November 1969 moratorium, watching a football game was item 14 on a list of suggested tactics for dealing with the demonstration." Both Fonda and EiJsberg warned listeners nol to accept the cover stories- about the ineffectiveness of the peace movement, about the Paris Peace Accords, about U.S. foreign policy or the imperial system. "ff we aJlow ourselves to be satisfied with appearances, we're going to become cynics," commented Fonda. "I spent a good part of my life being a cynic, and Fm thirty-seven years old. Practically every year of my life 1 become more aware of what it means to settle for the cover story about what success is, what power ís, what democracy means. i know that you die inside when you buy those kinds of my ths." "Do you know that one of the biggest coverups going on in the world today is the cover story that's been told the American people that the war is over?" Ellsberg asked. "The American people have to hear from other sources than the official ones, or even most of the media. They hear about killing going on, but they don 1 associate it with our budget which is paying for it." Feeding The War Cliest Over $3 billion has been spent in the past year in aid to Indochina. The war rages today because the U.S. funds about 9fflr, of the costs of he Tliien and Lon Nol regimes. "There is more American aici sent to Indochina than anywhere else in the woríd," Fonda points out. "SlÜ miilion a day are spent in Indochina at a time when people are starving in Pakistan and Bangladesh. There are more Food for Peace funds being sent there than anywhere else. although it has only .8 percent ot the world's pupulation. Cambodja, which has only seven miilion people that's the population of New York City receives more Food for Peace money than all of Latin America. Food for Peace money has been used to buik! tiger cages in 1 97 1 on Con Sanh island. it's used to buy handcuffs for the prisoners, it's used to buy tear ps, it's used to train guards in torture lactics, it's used to pay salaries t'or Thieu's army..jt's used for war." One of Richard Nixon's last acts in office was his veto of the Agriculture Appropriations bilí because oía 10 percent limit imposed by Congress on Food for Peace funds to all countries. The result of this restnction wouid be to limit aid to S42.5 million to any one country. Right now. Saigon is receiving $304 million, and Phnom Penh $190 million. $500 million more goes in economie uid to indochina. All of which is rechanneled into the war and the support of the Thieu and Lon Nol regimes. "The American people do nol accept torture and politica] prisoners." Lllsberg commented. "They are capable of understanding Thai the politica! prisoners of a regime which has been created by U.S. money and is kept in power by U.S. nioney, are our political prisoners. Anything else is a cover." "Does the United States torture prisoners? Yes, in Brazil, in the Phillipines, in Greece. in South Korea. ín South Vietnam. every country we have "saved" from communism since World War II. They are our prisoners, it is our torture. The American people are capable of understanding if they learn certain facts. That's why the administration goes to stich tremendous efforts to keep tliose faets secret." ' How To Stop The War Tlie public is still not'being told the t'ull extent of U.S. involvement in Southeast Asia. "How do you stop au invisible, covert Presidential war'.'" Fonda asked, pointing out the chango in the war from t lic 60s also required new tactics by anti-war groups. "We finally had to grow tip and begin to undei stand how the system works. We have had lo make allianccs witli people who understand how government works. The time has come tor people on the to figure out how to manipúlate the sy-.tem tor our own ends. We are not going to be satisfied with protests." The IPC and other groups have moved away from mass demonstrations, "where everyone ust goos home afterwards and no on-going work of conscious-raising is done." according to Ponda. Instead. IPC is urging people to keep informed, work with IPC. and most of all, write their congressional representativos. Their latest letter-writing campaign i.s aimed ál keeping a S347 million ceiling on aid to Cambodia, now in the Foreign Assistance bil!. Both F o dl and Kissinger have lobbied intensiveiy against tiie limit, which could undetmine Lon Nol's regime, and probabiy lead to his fait. Fonda admitted that Congress was by no means a progressive body. Slie relerred to them as "a herd of turtles." each afraid of slicking their heads out too far. But because of mass movements in the 60' s and because of eagerness on the part of Congress to disassociate itself from Nixon administration poKcies, actual changa can be accomplished. In addition. November is an election yeai . with all the House and a third of fhe Senate facing reelection con tests. Congresspeople are more readily persuaded by their constituents since lack of response will mean lack of votes. This is also an opportunity to vote lawmakers who support the continuing war out of office. "1 want you to know, we are winning!" Fonda said and was greeted by a round of applause. "We are going to end the war. We are going to make our own history. And when we are done, we are going to celébrate and announce the war wasn't ended by any magnanimous gesture on the part of any administration. No administration is going to end the war voluntanly. They will have to be dragged. kicking and screaming." Fonda pointed out that tin til the war is ended. the U.S. will be unable to solve its domestic problems. including tiie economie crisCi. SI e urgues ihat poople must make ending the war a priority. 'i'm telling you this. not just tor the Indochinese people. and not just in some abstract is important for us to remain active and particípate." she said. "For our own minds, for our own health, for our own consciousnesses, we can t buy ANY nivths. We are going to change American history. We have the power to doit."