Address by President Johnson before the Navy League at Manchester, N.H., August 20, 1966, "Our Objective in Vietnam"; Department of State Bulletin, September 12, 1966, p. 368


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 658-659.


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". . . But I think most Americans want to know why Viet-Nam is important.

"I think they know that communism must be halted in Viet-Nam, as it was halted in Western Europe and in Greece and Turkey and Korea and the Caribbean, if it is determined to swallow up free peoples and spread its influence in that area trying to take freedom away from people who do want to select their own leaders for themselves.

"I think that our people know that if aggression succeeds there, when it has failed in other places in the world, a harsh blow would be dealt to the security of other free nations in Asia and perhaps a blow to the peace in the entire world."

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"To give them time to build is one reason that we are all there. For there are times when the strong must provide a shield for those on whom the Communists prey. We have provided that shield in other countries. We are providing it there. And this is such a time.

"We are there for another reason, too, and that is because the United States must stand behind its word, even when conditions have added to the cost of honoring a pledge that was given a decade ago.

"I do not have to remind you that our pledge was in fact given by treaty to uphold the security of Southeast Asia. Now that security is in jeopardy because people are trying to use force to take over South Viet-Nam. When adversity comes is no time to back down on our commitment, if we expect our friends around the world to have faith in our word."

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