Secretary Rusk Interviewed on Voice of America, 15 February 1964, Department of State Bulletin, 2 March 1964, p. 333:


Source: Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 711-712


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Mr. O'Neill: "Well, Hanoi has just publicly now identified itself as supporting the guerrillas in South Vietnam and also threatening that Red China would intervene in any action against North Vietnam. Do you see any connection between that and the French recognition, or do you think this is an isolated development?"

Secretary Rusk: "I haven't seen anything that would lead me to say there was an organic connection between what Hanoi has just said and what Paris has done. It is true that Hanoi has made no secret of this policy since 1959. They have publicly declared that they are out to take over South Vietnam, and in this same statement to which you are referring they made it very clear that North Vietnam is not going to be neutralized and that their interest in South Vietnam is not so much neutrality as taking it over. So I think the issues have been drawn very clearly out there."

Mr. O'Neill: "While we are on that area, how is the fighting in South Vietnam? Are we going to be able to win out, and do you have any idea as to how soon that might be?"

Secretary Rusk: "Well, I think we will have to wait a bit before we can speak with complete confidence about it in the short run. In the long run, I have no doubt that the resources, the will, the material are present in South Vietnam to enable the South Vietnamese to do this job. We are determined that Southeast Asia is not going to be taken over by the communists. We must insist that these basic accords be adhered to. And so we are in this to the point where the South Vietnamese are going to be independent and secure."

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Mr. Ward: "Mr. Secretary, I wish you'd say something about this word 'neutralization'--not whether Southeast Asia or some parts thereof should be neutralized, but what the word itself means. It seems to me there is a great deal of misunderstanding that flows from varied uses of the word."

Secretary Rusk: "Well, the word gets confused because it has meant so many different things to different people. I suppose in the strictest sense a neutral is, in time of peace, a so-called 'unaligned' country, that it is not committed to one of the two major power blocs in the world, the NATO bloc or the communist bloc.

"Well, now, we don't object to neutrals or policies of neutrality or neutralization in that sense. There are a great many countries who are unaligned with whom we have very close and friendly relations. We are not looking for allies. We are not looking for military bases out in Southeast Asia. We are not even looking for a military presence in that part of the world.

"Our troops are there assisting the South Vietnamese because people in the north have been putting pressures on Southeast Asia. If those pressures did not exist, those troops wouldn't be there. But when one talks about neutralizing South Vietnam in the present context, this means, really, getting the Americans out. That is all that that means.

"Now, North Vietnam is not going to be neutralized. It's going to remain a member of the communist camp. And from the time that it was established, North Vietnam has broken agreements and has applied pressure on its neighbors, particularly Laos and South Vietnam. So that if anyone has in mind that South Vietnam should be neutralized, meaning that Americans should simply go home and leave it exposed to takeover from the north, then this isn't going to happen.

"Now, if South Vietnam were independent and secure, it would be perfectly free to pursue its own policy. It can be unaligned, as far as we are concerned."

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