Lest we all forget – Red China was going through what was later to become The Cultural Revolution. And beginning this week, the one ending on September 4th in 1966, a wave of violence swept over the country, against those elements deemed Western in influence. People and institutions were routed out, executed, burned, torn down, broken apart, jailed, ridiculed and shunned by all those loyal to Chairman Mao and the Chinese Communist Party.
Moscow reacted, saying it was China’s attempt at dividing the Communist Party – it further damaged an already fragile coexistence between the two Communist powers.
In what became characterized in Western media as “The Great Leap Backward“, the Cultural Revolution sought to rid China of all influences from the West it was still hanging on to. Some of the reforms were petty and vindictive while others were a genuine purge of Capitalist ideas. The Cultural Revolution would continue on for years, until Chairman Mao’s death in 1976.
But there was other news this week – it was an off-year election and President Johnson was busy stumping for Democratic Party candidate in races all around the country.
In Phnom Penh Cambodia, French President Charles De Gaulle arrived to a tremendous welcome. De Gaulle arrived for talks with Prince Sihanouk, the head of what was once part of French Indochina. De Gaulle, in a major address to the Cambodian people, said that only peace could be had in Vietnam once the U.S. got out and the fighting in South Vietnam ended.
Needless to say, it wasn’t greeted with much enthusiasm on Capitol Hill. Several Senators commented on France’s inability to win their version of the Vietnam War in 1954, and that it was a case of sour grapes that De Gaulle suggested we withdraw from Vietnam as France had done after the defeat at Dien Bien Phu.
Vietnam was also a topic of conversation with President Johnson, as he discussed the role of the Chinese Communists in Vietnam.
The subject of Vietnam also came up at the United Nations, as Secretary General U Thant announced his resignation as Secretary General. Citing the Vietnam War and America’s Foreign Policy in Southeast Asia as one of the reasons for his resignation, he sided with De Gaulle in saying the only way peace could be achieved in Vietnam would be if the U.S. pulled its forces out.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk reiterated U.S. policy in Southeast Asia, and it had nothing in common with U Thant’s. And so the frustration continued, as did the lines of division over Vietnam – the would only get deeper and more pronounced over time.
Racial flareups in Waukegan Illinois this week, as demonstrations became heated confrontations with scores of injured and damaged property. But it wound up being only one city of many experiencing violence in the streets, the worst being Dayton Ohio, with over 100 arrests reported and sporadic shooting during the day and into the night. National Guard troops were called out to quell the violence. Fears were further heightened when a march was proposed on Labor Day through Cicero Illinois.
And back on Capitol Hill – the Senate Foreign Relations Committee got an earful about news reporting of the Vietnam War. Seems reporting on the war and what to report on the war had to be cleared through Gen. William Westmoreland‘s office.
And so went this world, this week ending on September 4, 1966 as reported by ABC Radio’s Voices In The Headlines.