Sen. Paul S. Trible Jr. (R-Va.) said yesterday that he supported the Reagan administration's proposal to eliminate funding for Amtrak, which serves 17 Virginia cities and more than 350,000 passengers from the state annually.
"I think the national interest must come first. I like trains. I like to ride trains. But I don't believe taxpayers can continue to pay a huge subsidy for Amtrak traffic," Trible said in an interview with Washington Post editors and reporters.
Sixteen Amtrak trains run daily through Virginia, serving cities including Alexandria, Manassas, Charlottesville, Danville, Richmond and Newport News. Sen. John W. Warner (R-Va.) also is likely to support elimination of the Amtrak subsidy in an effort to reduce the deficit, according to a Warner spokesman.
In an interview covering several subjects, Trible also talked about an April 15 Washington Post article on Vietnam in which he was quoted as saying: "Asians have no value for life." The quote prompted criticism by the Japanese American Citizens League, which said it was "shocked that a member of the U.S. Senate . . . would display such blatant racial prejudice . . . . " Trible later said in another newspaper interview that he had been misquoted.
Trible said yesterday that the quote "does not clearly represent my words or my obvious intent."
Asked whether his words were taken out of context or misquoted, he said, "I did not take a tape of the article. But what I'm saying is those are not my words and that is clearly not the intent or the character of our conversation."
According to reporter Myra MacPherson, she asked Trible how he views the post-Vietnam experience. She said he responded:
"First of all, I would not have committed American land forces. Lyndon Johnson made a terrible blunder. In Asia, there is no value for life. They are at an advantage. They can throw unlimited numbers of people your way. This is clearly the case in the Asian world. They do not share the same Judeo-Christian values about life."
Trible said yesterday that in talking to MacPherson about Vietnam, "I made the point that I thought it was foolish for America to be engaged in a land war in Asia, and I went on to explain that in terms of the policies of the Asian Marxist states, they are quite obviously willing to incur substantial loss of human life in order to achieve their ends . . . . "
He said his attitude was reinforced by a trip he took to China as a congressman about 1978. He asked Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping about casualties that the Chinese incurred in fighting the Vietnamese.
"His response said a lot about the viewpoint of an Asian Marxist leader, and it says a lot about China," Trible said. "He said: Mr. Congressman, casualties are unimportant. What matters is we destroy the myth of Vietnamese invincibility."
Trible said, "That exchange and the opportunity to travel through China, to walk the streets of Canton and be overwhelmed by literally millions of people, really had an impact on me and underscored in my own mind the recognition that the kind of enterprise that we had been engaging in in Vietnam . . . really makes no sense."