Secretary Rusk's Interview on Vietnam on "Issues and Answers," American Broadcasting Company Radio and Television on July 11, 1965, With ABC Correspondents William H. Lawrence and John Scali, Department of State Bulletin, August 2, 1965, p. 188.


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 631-632


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U.S. Obligation to Allies

Mr. Scali: "Mr. Secretary, you have mentioned repeatedly, in explaining why we are fighting, that the credibility of American pledges is at stake here and that if the Communists succeed in overrunning South Viet-Nam we will have trouble elsewhere in the world. What, specifically, could you foresee in the unlikely event we did lose this?"

Secretary Rusk: "Well, suppose that our 41 other allies--or 42 allies--should find themselves questioning the validity of the assurance of the United States with respect to their security? What would be the effect of that? If our commitment to South Viet-Nam did not mean anything, what would you think if you were a Thai and considered what our commitments meant to Thailand? What would you think if you were West Berliners and you found that our assurance on these matters did not amount to very much?

"Now, this is utterly fundamental in maintaining the peace of the world, utterly fundamental. South Viet-Nam is important in itself, but Hanoi moved tens of thousands of people in there in the face of an American commitment of 10 years' standing. Now, this is something that we cannot ignore because this begins to roll things up all over the world if we are not careful here."

Mr. Scali: "Is the converse not also true--if we stop the Communists in South Viet-Nam that it will make it considerably easier to achieve an enduring peace elsewhere?"

Secretary Rusk: "Well, I think that one can say with reasonable confidence that both sides recognize that a nuclear exchange is not a rational instrument of policy and that mass divisions moving across national frontiers is far too dangerous to use as an easy instrument of policy, but now we have this problem of 'wars of liberation' and we must find a complete answer to that, and the other side must realize that the use of militancy, of men and arms across frontiers in pursuit of what they call 'wars of liberation,' also is too dangerous.

"Now, there has been a big argument between Moscow and Peiping on this subject over the years, but Peiping must also begin to work its way back toward the idea of mutual coexistence. Otherwise there is going to be very great trouble ahead."

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