Statement by President Johnson at a News Conference at the White House on April 27, 1965 and Transcript of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara's News Conference of April 26, 1965 on the Situation in Viet-Nam


Source: Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 736-737


Statement by President Johnson at a News Conference at the White House on April 27, 1965 and Transcript of Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara's News Conference of April 26, 1965 on the Situation in Viet-Nam, Department of State Bulletin, May 17, 1965, p. 78.

Statement by President Johnson

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Independent South Viet-Nam has been attacked by North Viet-Nam. The object of that attack is conquest.

Defeat in South Viet-Nam would be to deliver a friendly nation to terror and repression. It would encourage and spur on those who seek to conquer all free nations within their reach. Our own welfare and our own freedom would be in danger.

This is the clearest lesson of our time. From Munich until today we have learned that to yield to aggression brings only greater threats--and more destructive war. To stand firm is the only guarantee of lasting peace.

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Viet Cong Weapons from External Sources

The latest step has been the covert infiltration of a regular combat unit of the North Vietnamese Army into South Viet-Nam. Evidence accumulated within the last month now confirms the presence in northwest Kontum Province--that is in the central highland area of South Viet-Nam, around Pleiku and north of Pleiku--recent evidence which we have received confirms the presence in that northwest Kontum Province of the 2d Battalion of the 325th Division of the regular North Vietnamese Army. It is important to recognize, I think, that the great bulk of the weapons which the Viet Cong are using and with which they are supplied come from external sources.

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[Secretary McNamara]

Communist Strategy

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Q. "Mr. Secretary, a personal question. As the fighting has increased in Viet-Nam, more and more of the U.S. critics of the administration's policy have been referring to this as 'McNamara's war.' What is your reaction? Does this annoy you?"

A. "It does not annoy me because I think it is a war that is being fought to preserve the freedom of a very brave people, an independent nation. It is a war which is being fought to counter the strategy of the Communists, a strategy which Premier Khrushchev laid out very clearly in the very famous speech which he made on January 6, 1961.

"You may recall that at that time he divided all wars into three categories. He spoke of world wars, meaning nuclear wars; he spoke of local wars, by which he meant large-scale conventional wars; and then he spoke of what he called 'wars of liberation.'

"He ruled out world wars as being too dangerous to the existence of the Communist states. He ruled out local wars because he said they could very easily escalate into nuclear wars which would lead to the ultimate destruction of the Communist states. But he strongly endorsed 'wars of liberation' and made it perfectly clear that it would be through application of that strategy that the Communists would seek to subvert independent nations throughout the world, seek to extend their domination, their political domination, of other nations.

"It is very clear that that is the Communist Chinese strategy in Southeast Asia. It is a strategy I feel we should oppose, and, while it is not my war, I don't object to my name being associated with it."

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