Address by Secretary Rusk before the National Conference of the U.S. Agricultural Stabilization and Conservation Service at Washington, D.C., May 18, 1967; "Our Foreign Policy Commitments to Assure a Peaceful Future," Department of State Bulletin, June 12, 1967, p. 874.


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


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"Secondly, I hear it said that Viet-Nam is just a civil war, therefore we should forget about it, that it is only a family affair among Vietnamese. Well, it's quite true that among the Viet Cong and the National Liberation Front there is a large component of authentic Southerners who are in rebellion against the several authorities who have been organized in Saigon.

"But those are not the people who explain the presence of American combat forces in South Viet-Nam. Because beginning in 1960 the authorities in the North activated the Communist cadres which had been left behind at the time of the division of the country. Then from 1960 onward they sent in substantial numbers of Southerners who had gone North, were trained in the North, and were sent back as cadres and armed elements to join in seizing the country. And by 1964 they had run out of authentic Southerners and were sending Northerners in increasing numbers, and late that year they began to send regular units of the North Vietnamese Regular Army. Today there are more than 20 regiments of the North Vietnamese Regular Forces in South Viet-Nam and substantial forces in and just north of the demilitarized zone in direct contact with our Marines.

"It was what the North is doing to the South that caused us to send combat forces there, because we felt we had an obligation to do so under the SEATO treaty, a treaty which calls upon us to take steps to meet the common danger. And if the North would decide to hold its hand and not persist in its effort to seize South Viet-Nam by force, this situation could be resolved peacefully, literally in a matter of hours."

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"The commitment of the United States to its 40 or more allies is a very important element in the building of a durable peace. And if those who would be our adversaries should ever suppose that our commitments are not worth anything, then we shall see dangers we have not yet dreamed of."

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