* * *
"The common label of 'foreign aid' is gravely misleading--for it inspires a picture of bounty for foreign countries at the expense of our own. No misconception could be further from reality. These programs serve our own basic national and personal interests.
"They do this both immediately and lastingly.
"In the long term, the ending or the weakening of these programs would vastly increase the risk of future war.
"And--in the immediate sense--it would impose upon us additional defense expenditures many times greater than the cost of mutual security today.
"This evening it is my purpose to give you incontestable proof of these assertions.
"We have, during this century, twice spent our blood and our treasure fighting in Europe--and twice in Asia. We fought because we saw--too late to prevent war--that our own peace and security were imperilled, by the urgent danger--or the ruthless conquest--of other lands.
"We have gained wisdom from that suffering. We know, and the world knows, that the American people will fight hostile and aggressive despotisms when their force is thrown against the barriers of freedom, when they seek to gain the high ground of power from which to destroy us. But we also know that to fight is the most costly way to keep America secure and free. Even an America victorious in atomic war could scarcely escape disastrous destruction of her cities and a fearful loss of life. Victory itself could be agony.
"Plainly, we must seek less tragic, less costly ways to defend ourselves. We must recognize that whenever any country falls under the domination of Communism, the strength of the Free World--and of America--is by that amount weakened and Communism strengthened. If this process, through our neglect or indifference, should proceed unchecked, our continent would be gradually encircled. Our safety depends upon recognition of the fact that the Communist design for such encirclement must be stopped before it gains momentum-before it is again too late to save the peace.
"This recognition dictates two tasks. We must maintain a common worldwide defense against the menace of International Communism. And we must demonstrate and spread the blessings of liberty--to be cherished by those who enjoy these blessings, to be sought by those now denied them.
"This is not a new policy nor a partisan policy.
"This is a policy for America that began ten years ago when a Democratic President and a Republican Congress united in an historic declaration. They then declared that the independence and survival of two countries menaced by Communist aggression-Greece and Turkey-were so important to the security of America that we would give them military and economic aid.
"That policy saved those nations. And it did so without the cost of American lives.
"That policy has since been extended to all critical areas of the world. It recognizes that America cannot exist as an island of freedom in a surrounding sea of Communism. It is expressed concretely by mutual security treaties embracing 42 other nations. And these treaties reflect a solemn finding by the President and by the Senate that our own peace would be endangered if any of these countries were conquered by International Communism.
"The lesson of the defense of Greece and Turkey ten years ago has since been repeated in the saving of other lands and peoples. A recent example is the South-east Asian country of Viet-Nam, whose President has Just visited us as our honored guest.
"Two years ago it appeared that all Southeast Asia might be overrun by the forces of International Communism. The freedom and security of nations for which we had fought throughout World War II and the Korean War again stood in danger. The people of Viet-Nam responded bravely--under steadfast leadership.
"But bravery alone could not have prevailed.
"We gave military and economic assistance to the Republic of Viet-Nam. We entered into a treaty--the Southeast Asia Security Treaty--which plainly warned that an armed attack against this area would endanger our own peace and safety, and that we would act accordingly. Thus Viet-Nam has been saved for freedom.
"This is one of the nations where we have been spending the largest amounts of so-called 'foreign aid.' What could be plainer than the fact that this aid has served not only the safety of another nation--but also the security of our own.
"The issue, then, is solemn and serious and clear.
"When our young men were dying in the Argonne in 1918 and on the beaches of Normandy and in the Western Pacific in 1944 and at Pusan in 1950--and when the battlefields of Europe and Africa and Asia were strewn with billions of dollars worth of American military equipment, representing the toil and the skills of millions of workers--no one for an instant doubted the need and the rightness of this sacrifice of blood and labor and treasure.
"Precisely the same needs and purposes are served by our Mutual Security programs today--whether these operate on a military or an economic front. For on both fronts they are truly defense programs."
* * *
Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Vol. 1 (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), p. 614-16
Return to Vinnie's Home Page
Return to Vietnam War Page