The Blog

WHY WE WEREN'T iN VIETNAM

11:00 PM, Nov 5, 1995 • By JOSHUA MURAVCHIK
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

But you do not have to accept any of Garfinkle's main arguments to enjoy and profit from his painstaking reconstruction of the history of the antiwar movement. He has undertaken prodigious research (he is a few years too young to have experienced most of it firsthand). For those who were close to the scene, it is fun revisiting the arguments between Norman Thomas and David Dellinger, the brief triumph of the Trotskyist Socialist Workers party as the leader of mass antiwar demonstrations, and the final break-up of SDS (Students for a Democratic Society) at a convention that pitted doctrinaire Maoists against a somewhat less doctrinaire faction calling itself the Up- Against-the-Wall Motherfuckers.


Thus did its extreme segments flame out, but the movement they left behind triumphed, choking off U.S. aid to the governments of South Vietnam and Cambodia, serving those nations up to the Communists. And, building on the McCarthy campaign, the movement succeeded as well in making the Democratic party its own. The firmness of its grip has been demonstrated anew by Bill Clinton, who campaigned as a different kind of Democrat but has governed as one who cut his teeth in the movement and bears its indelible imprint.



Joshua Muravchik, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, was national chairman of the Young People's ocialist League from 1968 to 1973. His most recent book, The Imperative of American Leadership, will be published by AEI earlyl next year.