President Kennedy's TV Interview with Walter Cronkite, September 25, 1963


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 2, pp. 825-827


President Kennedy's TV Interview, September 25, 1963, Department of State Bulletin, September 30, 1963, p. 499:

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Mr. Cronkite: "Hasn't every indication from Saigon been that President Diem has no intention of changing his pattern?"

President Kennedy: "If he does not change it, of course, that is his decision. He has been there 10 years, and, as I say, he has carried this burden when he has been counted out on a number of occasions.

"Our best judgment is that he can't be successful on this basis. We hope that he comes to see that; but in the final analysis it is the people and the Government itself who have to win or lose this struggle. All we can do is help, and we are making it very clear. But I don't agree with those who say we should withdraw. That would be a great mistake. I know people don't like Americans to be engaged in this kind of an effort. Forty-seven Americans have been killed in combat with the enemy, but this is a very important struggle even though it is far away.

"We took all this--made this effort to defend Europe. Now Europe is quite secure. We also have to participate--we may not like it--in the defense of Asia.

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