William Bundy Discusses Vietnam Situation, February 7, 1965


Source: Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 727


William Bundy Discusses Vietnam Situation, February 7, 1965, Department of State Bulletin, March 8, 1965, p. 292.

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Why are we there? What is our national interest? I think it was pretty well stated by Congress last August when it passed a resolution, following the Gulf of Tonkin affair, in which it stated that the United States "regards as vital to its national interest and world peace the maintenance of international peace and security in southeast Asia." And that's the basic reason right there-peace in the area, letting the nations of the area develop as they see fit and free from Communist external infiltration, subversion, and control.

Secondly, it's obvious on the map that if South Viet-Nam were to fall under Communist control it would become very much more difficult-I'm not using what's sometimes called 'the domino theory,' that anything happens automatically or quickly--but it would become very much more difficult to maintain the independence and freedom of Thailand, Cambodia, of Malaysia, and so on. And the confidence of other nations in the whole perimeter of Southeast Asia would necessarily be affected, and the Communists would think they had a winning game going for them. So that's a very important, strategic reason in addition to the fact that we're helping a nation under aggression.

And thirdly, this technique they're using--they call it "wars of national liberation"--is a technique that will be used elsewhere in the world if they get away with this one, and they'll be encouraged to do that.

So those are the three basic reasons why our national interest--and basically our national interest in peace in this whole wide Pacific area with which we have historically had great concern and for which we fought in World War II and in Korea--are deeply at stake in this conflict.

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