Secretary Rusk Interview by Paul Niven, Televised from the Department of State to 75 Affiliated Stations of National Educational Television on May 5, 1967; "A Conversation with Dean Rusk," Department of State Bulletin, May 22, 1967, p. 774.


Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 669-671.


Secretary Rusk: They have no business being there. They have no right to try to seize South Viet-Nam by force. We are entitled under the SEATO treaty as well as under the individual and collective security-self-defense arrangements of the U.N. Charter, to come to the assistance of South Viet-Nam upon their request when they are subjected to this kind of aggression."

* * *

"In Southeast Asia we have treaty commitments that obligate us to take action to meet the common danger if there is an aggression by means of armed attack. That aggression is under way.

"If these questions can be decided by people in free elections, perhaps we could all relax. I don't know anyone who through free elections, any great nation--we have a particular State in India--that brought Communists to power with free elections. They are not monolithic--they are not monolithic.

"But all branches of the Communist Party that I know of are committed to what they call the world revolution. And their picture of that world revolution is quite contrary to the kind of world organization sketched out in the Charter of the United Nations.

"Now, they have important differences among themselves about how you best get on with that world revolution. And there is a contest within the Communist world between those who think that peaceful coexistence and peaceful competition is the better way to do it and the militants, primarily in Peking, who believe that you back this world revolution by force.

"But I think the Communist commitment to world revolution is pretty general throughout the Communist movement.

"Now, if they want to compete peacefully, all right, let's do that. But when they start moving by force to impose this upon other people by force, then you have a very serious question about where it leads and how you organize a world peace on that basis."

* * *

Mr. Niven: "But some of our former diplomats and some of the critics are forever contending that the Viet-Nam war places strings upon our alliances, it complicates and exacerbates other problems."

Secretary Rusk: "I think that is nonsense-because if you want to put some strain on our other alliances, just let it become apparent that our commitment under an alliance is not worth very much. Then you will see some strain on our alliances."

Mr. Niven: "You are suggesting if we don't uphold this commitment other people will lose faith in our commitments all over the world."

Secretary Rusk: "And more importantly, our adversaries or prospective adversaries may make some gross miscalculations about what we would do with respect to those commitments."

* * *

Secretary Rusk: ". . . But I think that the end of the aggression in Viet-Nam would put us a very long step forward toward this organization of a durable peace. I think there is a general recognition in the world that a nuclear exchange does not make sense, that sending massed divisions across national frontiers is pretty reckless today. If we get this problem of these 'wars of national liberation' under reasonable control, then maybe we can look forward to a period of relative peace, although there will continue to be quarrels and neighborhood disputes and plenty of business for the Security Council of the United Nations."

* * *


Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Vietnam War Page