Address by Secretary Rusk before the Annual Meeting of the Association of State Colleges and National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges at Washington, D.C., November 15, 1966, "The Future of the Pacific Community"; Department of State Bulletin, December 5, 1966, p. 838.

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 660-661.

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"But indirect aggression by infiltration of men and arms across frontiers is still with us. It was tried in Greece, in Malaya, in the Philippines, and now in South Viet-Nam. The label 'civil war' or 'war of national liberation' does not make it any less an aggression. The purpose is to impose on others an unwanted regime. It substitutes terror for persuasion, force for free choice. And especially if it succeeds, it contains the inherent threat of further aggression--and eventually a great war."

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"The militant Asian Communists have themselves proclaimed the attack on South Viet-Nam to be a critical test of this technique. And beyond South Viet-Nam and Laos they have openly designated Thailand as the next target."

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"Now, as a generation ago, some people are saying that if you let an aggressor take just one more bite, he will be satisfied. But one of the plainest lessons of our times is that one aggression leads to another-but the initial aggressor and perhaps by others who decide there would be profit in emulating him.

"Some assert that we have no national security interest in South Viet-Nam and Southeast Asia. But that is not the judgment of those who have borne the high responsibilities for the safety of the United States. Beginning with President Truman, four successive Presidents, after extended consultation with their principal advisers, have decided that we have a very important interest in the security of that area.

"There is a further and more specific reason why we are assisting South Viet-Nam: Out of the strategic conclusions of four successive Presidents came commitments, including the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty. The Senate approved it with only one negative vote.

"Our commitments are the backbone of world peace. It is essential that neither our adversaries nor our friends ever doubt that we will do what we say we will do. Otherwise, the result is very likely to be a great catastrophe.

"In his last public utterance President Kennedy reviewed what the United States had done to preserve freedom and peace since the Second World War, and our defensive commitments, including our support of South Viet-Nam. He said: 'We are still the keystone in the arch of freedom, and I think we will continue to do as we have done in the past, our duty . . . "

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