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John B. OakesJohn B. Oakes
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getting the Times' position somewhat modified on that issue of China. I think we have discussed that in [an] earlier session.

This is relevant because the Vietnam question and the pressure on the South Vietnam government -- which, of course, the United States was supporting -- were becoming greater and greater. I felt in these early times that, while there was no question about the U.S. obligation to support South Vietnam against what clearly looked at that time to be Communist aggression from the north, I felt -- this was in the early days -- more and more uncomfortable about the dictatorial and, as I understood it, the more and more corrupt and autocratic and totally dictatorial policies, anti-democratic policies of the South Vietnamese government of Saigon. And so in this very early period, while we continued the policy editorially of being strongly against, as we saw it then, the Communist pressure from the north, we became increasingly, and by 1963, very strongly, critical of the kind of government that the United States was supporting. As that evolved, my own views on this matter were that while there was no question that the U.S. had treaty obligations and all that to back the South Vietnamese and to help them resist the Communist invasion -- We did have this obligation. No question about it. But it became clearer and clearer to me that the kind of government we were supporting -- and we [the New York Times] were becoming increasingly critical of the [Ngo Dinh] Diem government -- was not the kind of government that the United States ought to be supporting and particularly defending with military force against the Communists.

The right wing in the United States, by the way, was strongly in favor of continued and all- out support by the U.S. of this government against what was perceived as a Communist invasion from the north, whereas it looked more and more clearly, to me at least, like a civil



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