I think the lesson is again, applicable, in a sense. The Vietnamese lesson, in a sense, is applicable to Central America
. And that is that we have to define for ourselves what it is that we're trying to achieve, we have to make some reason judgment as what is the balance between goals and means and then act accordingly.
When I listen to President Reagan's address to the special session of Congress, I almost had the feeling that he was going to end the speech in which he described the issue as being strategically of the most urgent character by calling upon the American people to support some policy of interdiction against Nicaragua and blockade of Cuba.
Instead, he ended up by asking for thirty million dollars more. He was either asking for too little or he was exaggerating the danger vastly. There was clearly a disproportion between his analysis and his recommended action.
My own view is that the situation really is quite different from that of Vietnam. Not only is the geographical locale altogether different, the problem is altogether different. There's nothing like North Vietnam nearby. There's nothing like China and the Soviet Union nearby. And we have to take a longer range more patient historical view of the problem.
It is to be sure in part a matter of Soviet and Cuban involvement, abetment exploitation. But the revolutionary violence in Central America
has deep indigenous roots. Social, political, economic. And if we adopt a more patient outcall historical posture, work with the neighbors that have a common stake in stability in the region, I think we can work this out.
I don't favor a policy of urgency, of making the issue into a massive strategic challenge. I don't believe the conditions warrant it. But if it is a massive strategic challenge, then we ought to be reacting differently than the way the President has called for.