Message from Bertrand Russell to the Trafalgar Square Rally on Vietnam



Message from Bertrand Russell to the Trafalgar Square Rally on Vietnam


Long, C.


Bertrand Russell


Mar. 17, 1968


Bertrand Russell Archives, Box 9.53, Doc. 181989 (B&R C68.10)




McMaster University




Message from Bertrand Russell to the Trafalgar Square Rally on Vietnam, March 17, 1968

The United States of America is floundering towards the complete defeat of all its declared objectives in Vietnam. The Vietnamese people, with a minimum of help from the outside world, have once again thwarted their colonial masters. This striking achievement gives new hope to the world. It opens the way to the collapse of the systematic exploitation of the majority of the world's peoples by a small, wealthy elite in the West. The United States considers itself "world policeman". In fact it is brutal guardian of the spoils gained by vast corporations whose tentacles extend through five continents. This role is being denied to Washington not in the council chambers but on the battlefield. Having flouted its promises at Geneva to respect settlements in both Vietnam and Laos, the United States is learning the hard way that its word is not trusted. Its calls for what it describes as "unconditional negotiations" are recognized as fraudulent and irrelevant. The resistance of the Vietnamese people to American barbarians will undoubtedly go down in history as not only remarkably courageous, but astonishingly effective.

It is encouraging to see in Western Europe signs of support for the Vietnamese people. We should not delude ourselves, however, into thinking that our own role has been in any way heroic. The failure to build a movement of support in Britain over the past five years for the gallant people of Vietnam has been monumental, and I am convinced that we shall pay a heavy price for this failure in future years. Unless a significant section of our community comes to understand the nature of the fraud which the United States has attempted to perpetrate through its propaganda machines in Washington and Saigon, we shall fail to understand the next round in the struggle of the third world to liberate itself from the theft of its raw materials and indiscriminate destruction of its peoples when they resist.

In all this sordid story, the role of our own Government defies description. I can not remember a single government throughout my lifetime which has so debased the British people. Mr. Wilson has bee compared to Ramsey MacDonald, but such a comparison flatters our Prime Minister. He has tried to stuff all his election promises down the Memory hole, and those who recall the promises of 1964 are told that they are wasting the tax-payers' money! Our Government, opportunistic as never before, staggers from crisis to crisis. On each occasion the Prime Minister uses two criteria to judge events: "What must I do to stay in power?" and "What will the Americans think?" It is not the promised land that Wilson leads us towards, but the American graveyard in Vietnam.

This weekend I have published in the New Statesman an article appealing for a new look at America's war by the people of Western Europe. As junior members of NATO, we are the hosts and accomplices of war criminals. It is high time that we in Western Europe resolutely ejected the United States from Europe. The North Atlantic Treaty is due for renewal early next year, and I earnestly hope that throughout Europe there will be ferment of opposition to this. If Wilson renews NATO membership Britain will be without an independent foreign policy for a further ten or twenty years; if we reject this ignoble alliance, we have the opportunity at last to repay our debt to the Vietnamese people by weakening the power of the American Empire in Europe. NATO is the heart of Wilson's foreign policy. Let us sever in our nation the chains which bind us to the greed and brutality of the American Empire.