The State of the Union Address of President Johnson to the Congress (Excerpts), January 10, 1967; Department of State Bulletin, January 30, 1967, p. 158


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 661-662.


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"We are in Viet-Nam because the United States of America and our allies are committed by the SEATO Treaty to 'act to meet the common danger' of aggression in Southeast Asia.

"We are in Viet-Nam because an international agreement signed by the United States, North Viet-Nam, and others in 1962 is being systematically violated by the Communists. That violation threatens the independence of all the small nations in Southeast Asia and threatens the peace of the entire region and perhaps the world.

"We are there because the people of South Viet-Nam have as much right to remain non-Communist--if that is what they choose--as North Viet-Nam has to remain Communist.

"We are there because the Congress has pledged by solemn vote to take all necessary measures to prevent further aggression.

"No better words could describe our present course than those once spoken by the great Thomas Jefferson: 'It is the melancholy law of human societies to be compelled sometimes to choose a great evil in order to ward off a greater.'

"We have chosen to fight a limited war in Viet-Nam in an attempt to prevent a larger war--a war almost certain to follow, I believe, if the Communists succeed in overrunning and taking over South Viet-Nam by aggression and by force. I believe, and I am supported by some authority, that if they are not checked now the world can expect to pay a greater price to check them later."

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