Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 664-665.
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"Obviously, the first essential in building a durable peace is to eliminate aggression- by preventing it, if possible, and by repelling it when it occurs or is threatened.
"The United Nations has helped to make and keep peace in many situations. We continue to support it and to seek ways of strengthening it. But because it has been unable to function in some of the most dangerous situations, the main job of preventing and repelling aggression has been accomplished by the defensive alliances of the free world-defensive alliances organized and conducted in complete harmony with the U.N. Charter, which expressly recognizes the right of individual and collective self-defense and also provides for regional organizations or agencies to maintain international peace and security.
"Under those alliances, the United States is specifically pledged to assist in the defense of more than 40 nations. Those commitments, and the power that lies behind them, are the backbone of world peace.
". . . . But the principal Communist states remain publicly committed to what they call 'wars of liberation'-the infiltration of arms and trained men. That is the type of aggression by which Communist North Viet-Nam set Out to conquer South Viet-Nam. It is an aggression which has become less and less in-direct since the closing months of 1964, when North Viet-Nam began to move an entire division of its regular army into South Viet-Nam.
"Four successive Presidents of the United States, after extended study in consultation with their chief advisers on defense and foreign policy, have concluded that the security of Southeast Asia, and of South Viet-Nam in particular, is very important to the security of the United States. Those who take a different view are at odds with the men who have borne the highest responsibility for the defense of the United States and the free world since the Second World War.
U.S. COMMITMENTS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA
"In accordance with our national interest in the security of South Viet-Nam, the Government of the United States made commitments, of which the most solemn was the Southeast Asia Collective Defense Treaty. That treaty was approved by the United States Senate in 1955 with only one dissenting vote. It bound us to take action in the event of an armed attack on South Viet-Nam, among other nations. And Secretary of State Dulles told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that that commitment included the case of an attack by 'the regime of Ho Chi Minh in North Viet-Nam.'
"The United States cannot run away from its commitments. If either our adversaries or our friends should begin to doubt that the United States will honor its alliances, the result could be catastrophe.
"We are fighting in Viet-Nam because also we have not forgotten the lesson of the tragic 1930's, the lesson that was foremost in the minds of the authors of the U.N. Charter: the lesson that one aggression leads to another
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