Excerpt From "Address by the President, Syracuse University, 5 August 1964," Department of State Bulletin, 24 August 1964


Source: Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 3, pp. 718-720


"Address by the President, Syracuse University, 5 August 1964," Department of State Bulletin, 24 August 1964, p. 260:

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Aggression--deliberate, willful, and systematic aggression--has unmasked its face to the entire world. The world remembers--the world must never forget--that aggression unchallenged is aggression unleashed.

We of the United States have not forgotten. That is why we have answered this aggression with action.

America's course is not without long provocation.

For 10 years, three American Presidents--President Eisenhower, President Kennedy, and your present President--and the American people have been actively concerned with threats to the peace and security of the peoples of Southeast Asia from the communist government of North Vietnam.

President Eisenhower sought-and President Kennedy sought-the same objectives that I still seek:

-That the governments of Southeast Asia honor the international agreements which apply in the area;
-That those governments leave each other alone;
-That they resolve their differences peacefully;
-That they devote their talents to bettering the lives of their peoples by working against poverty and disease and ignorance.

In 1954 we made our position clear toward Vietnam.

In July of that year we stated we would view any renewal of the aggression in violation of the 1954 agreements "with grave concern and as seriously threatening international peace and security."

In September of that year the United States signed the Manila Pact, on which our participation in SEATO is based. That pact recognized that aggression by means of armed attack on South Vietnam would endanger the peace and the safety of the nations signing that solemn agreement.

In 1962 we made our position clear toward Laos. We signed the Declaration on the Neutrality of Laos. That accord provided for the withdrawal of all foreign forces and respect for the neutrality and independence of that little country.

The agreements of 1954 and 1962 were also signed by the government of North Vietnam.

In 1954 that government pledged that it would respect the territory under the military control of the other party and engage in no hostile act against the other party.

In 1962 that government pledged that it would "not introduce into the Kingdom of Laos foreign troops or military personnel."

That government also pledged that it would "not use the territory of the Kingdom of Laos for interference in the internal affairs of other countries."

That government of North Vietnam is now willfully and systematically violating those agreements of both 1954 and 1962.

To the south, it is engaged in aggression aaginst the Republic of Vietnam.

To the west, it is engaged in aggression against the Kingdom of Laos.

To the east, it has now struck out on the high seas in an act of aggression against the United States of America.

There can be and there must be no doubt about the policy and no doubt about the purpose.

So there can be no doubt about the responsibilities of men and the responsibilities of nations that are devoted to peace:

Peace cannot be assured merely by assuring the safety of the United States destroyer MADDOX or the safety of other vessels of other flags.

eace requires that the existing agreements in the area be honored.

Peace requires that we and all our friends stand firm against the present aggressions of the government of North Vietnam.

The government of North Vietnam is today flouting the will of the world for peace. The world is challenged to make its will against war known and to make it known clearly and to make it felt and to make it felt decisively.

So, to our friends of the Atlantic alliance, let me say this this morning. The challenge that we face in Southeast Asia today is the same challenge that we have faced with courage and that we have met with strength in Greece and Turkey, in Berlin and Korea, in Lebanon and in Cuba, and to any who may be tempted to support or to widen the present aggression I say this: There is no threat to any peaceful power from the United States of America. But there can be no peace by aggression and no immunity from reply. That is what is meant by the actions that we took yesterday.

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