Address by President Johnson at Omaha Municipal Dock on June 30, 1966, "Two Threats to Peace: Hunger and Aggression"; Department of State Bulletin, July 25, 1966, p. 115.


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 655-656


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"Now I want to point out to you that the conflict there is important for many reasons, but I have time to mention only a few. I am going to mention three specifically.

"The first reason: We believe that the rights of other people are just as important as our own. We believe that we are obligated to help those whose rights are being threatened by brute force."

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"The North Vietnamese at this hour are trying to deny the people of South Viet-Nam the right to build their own nation, the right to choose their own system of government, the right to go and vote in a free election and select their own people, the right to live and work in peace.

"South Viet-Nam has asked us for help. Only if we abandon our respect for the rights of other people could we turn down their plea.

VIET-NAM AND THE SECURITY OF ASIA

"Second, South Viet-Nam is important to the security of the rest of all of Asia.

"A few years ago the nations of free Asia lay under the shadow of Communist China. They faced a common threat, but not in unity. They were still caught up in their old disputes and dangerous confrontations. They were ripe for aggression.

"Now that picture is changing. Shielded by the courage of the South Vietnamese, the peoples of free Asia today are driving toward economic and social development in a new spirit of regional cooperation.

"All you have to do is look at that map and you will see independence growing, thriving, blossoming, and blooming.

"They are convinced that the Vietnamese people and their allies are going to stand firm against the conqueror, or against aggression.

"Our fighting in Viet-Nam, therefore, is buying time not only for South Viet Nam, but it is buying time for a new and a vital, growing Asia to emerge and develop additional strength.

"If South Viet-Nam were to collapse under Communist pressure from the North, the progress in the rest of Asia would be greatly endangered. And don't you forget that!

"The third reason is: What happens in South Viet-Nam will determine- yes, it will determine-whether ambitious and aggressive nations can use guerrilla warfare to conquer their weaker neighbors.

"It will determine whether might makes right.

"Now I do not know of a single more important reason for our presence than this.

"We are fighting in South Viet-Nam a different kind of war than we have ever known in the past."

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"If by such methods the agents of one nation can go out and hold and seize power where turbulent change is occurring in another nation, our hope for peace and order will suffer a crushing blow all over the world. It will be an invitation to the would-be conqueror to keep on marching. That is why the problem of guerrilla warfare-the problem of Viet-Nam-is a critical threat to peace not just in South Viet-Nam, but in all of this world in which we live."

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