Address by President Johnson before a Joint Session of the Tennessee State Legislature at Nashville, Tennessee on March 15, 1967; "The Defense of Viet-Nam: Key to the Future of Free Asia," Department of State Bulletin, April 3, 1967, p. 534.


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 667-668.


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"As our commitment in Viet-Nam required more men and more equipment, some voices were raised in opposition. The administration was urged to disengage, to find an excuse to abandon the effort.

"These cries came despite growing evidence that the defense of Viet-Nam held the key to the political and economic future of free Asia. The stakes of the struggle grew correspondingly.

"It became clear that if we were prepared to stay the course in Viet-Nam, we could help to lay the cornerstone for a diverse and independent Asia, full of promise and resolute in the cause of peaceful economic development for her long-suffering peoples.

"But if we faltered, the forces of chaos would scent victory and decades of strife and aggression would stretch endlessly before us."

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"The first answer is that Viet-Nam is aggression in a new guise, as far removed from trench warfare as the rifle from the longbow. This is a war of infiltration, of subversion, of ambush. Pitched battles are very rare, and even more rarely are they decisive."

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