Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 649-650
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"Such principles are all very well. But between the idea and the reality falls the shadow--the shadow of Viet-Nam. Can this war be fitted into any wider concept of the search for better methods of peacekeeping? I think it can. No thinking American would support it if it could not. Let me begin by saying what this war is not.
"It is not emphatically a war to establish an American 'imperialism' or an American 'sphere of influence' in Asia. What exclusive interests have we there? Investment? trade? settlement? None.
"It is not a war to threaten or frustrate the legitimate interests of the Chinese people-though it seeks to discourage violence and aggression and play some part in persuading them that the imperialist world, once known to the Central Kingdom, is dead and will not be resurrected.
"It is in part, if you like, to persuade them that the fact that large parts of Asia--including all Southeast Asia and the hill states of the Himalayas--once, supposedly, paid the emperors tribute is no reason why they should revert to the status of vassal states in the 20th century.
"Again, this war is not a holy war against communism as an ideology. It does not seek unconditional surrender--from North Viet-Nam or anyone else. It does not seek to deny any segment of South Vietnamese opinion its part in peacefully establishing a stable regime.
"It does, however, preclude retreat before two things--first, the program
of the Viet Cong, strongly controlled by the North, to impose its will by violence;
and second, its claim to be the 'sole genuine representative' of a people, the vast majority of whom have rejected this claim.
"This, I believe, is the background against which to consider in positive terms what this war is about. It is, I suggest, another step in a limited operation of a policing type--an operation designed to check violence as a means to settle international disputes.
"The violence is no less total because it has been largely organized as a guerrilla operation . . . ."
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