Friday, 18 January 2013

"CIA men actually spit when your name is mentioned." Mary McCarthy talks to James Mossman about the Vietnam war.

Most of the British media have been successfully and willingly embedded in US foreign policy since 1945. The BBC's James Mossman proves no exception in this interview for The Listener from 1968. But, as evidenced in this extract, McCarthy gives short shrift to his guilt-trip appeal to patriotism.

Could you tell me, Mary McCarthy, what is your fundamental objection to your county's involvement in Vietnam?

The application of a technology and a superior power to a political situation that will not yield to this.

That means you are accusing your people of stupidity and not wickedness.

I think they are wicked too, but sometimes those things seem to be somewhat equivalent.

Why do you think they are wicked?

The absolute indifference to the cost in human lives of the pursuit of US foreign policy - that I consider wicked

I gather that your name is absolute mud out there and CIA men actually spit when your name is mentioned.

I am delighted to hear it. I didn't think I had made so much of an impression.

What do you find the Americans were saying about the justification for their war now?

'To punish aggression.'

Do you think they believed what they were saying?

No, I think they learned it, They couldn't really pursue this thought more than a sentence further. You'd say: "Why didn't we punish aggression in Goa?" And they'd say: "Well, this is different." The level of argument was very low.

What would you say was the quality of the people running the war - the civilians and the soldiers?

I felt the soldiers were much more competent; the civilians were extremely fugged up...(to be continued)

Ben Shahn, "McCarthy Peace" lithograph poster
Campaign poster for Eugene McCarthy