Interview with Secretary Rusk, Videotaped at USIA Studios in Washington, D.C. on October 16, 1967 and Later Broadcast Abroad; "Secretary Rusk Discusses Viet-Nam in Interview for Foreign Television," Department of State Bulletin, November 6, 1967, p. 595.

Source: The Pentagon Papers, Gravel Edition, Volume 4, (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. 680-682.

* * *

Secretary Rusk: ". . . But in my press conference I pointed the finger at what I called Asian communism because the doctrine of communism as announced and declared in Peking has a special quality of militancy, a militancy which has largely isolated Peking within the Communist world, quite apart from the problem it has created with many other countries. . . ."

Mr. Barnett: "Mr. Secretary, since your last press conference, some of your critics have accused you of using the threat of 'yellow peril' to justify the allied forces' presence in South Viet-Nam. And, related to that also is the fact that many people have seen what they consider a shade different emphasis in your approach to this, that at one time American forces were there to justify the self-determination of South Viet-Nam, and now you're talking more in terms of giving strength to the non-Communist nations in Asia as a defense against Peking. Could you clarify this?"

Secretary Rusk: "Yes. In the first place, I put out a statement [on October 16] in which I rejected categorically any effort to put into my mouth the concept of 'the yellow peril,' which was a racial concept of 60 or 70 years ago fostered by extreme journalism of those days. This is not in my mind.

"I pointed out that other Asian nations, ranging from Korea and Japan on the one side around to the subcontinent of India on the other, are concerned about their own safety over against the things which are being said and done in Peking and by Peking. These free nations of Asia also are of Asian races. So that to me, this has nothing whatever to do with the sense of 'yellow peril' that was built upon a racial fear and hostility 60 or 70 years ago in which the hordes of Asia were going to overrun the white race as a racial matter.

"Now, as far as the difference in emphasis is concerned, one of our problems is that people tend to listen to what we say on only one point at a time. We have spoken about our treaty commitments to Viet-Nam. We've talked about our interest in organizing a peace in the Pacific, because of our other alliances in the Pacific as with Korea, Japan, the Republic of China, the Philippines, the SEATO Treaty, and our ANZUS Treaty with Australia and New Zealand.

"So we have a great stake in the integrity of the alliances which we have in the Pacific Ocean area.

"Now, we have also talked about our own national interest, our own security interests in Southeast Asia, and in these alliances. Now, we haven't shifted from one to the other; we speak about all of these things and have for 6 or 7 years. At times people seem to think we emphasize one, some the other. I think this is more based upon the way people listen, rather than the way in which we state these underlying elements in our policy."

* * *

Mr. De Segonzac: "But by injecting the Chinese question in the whole affair of Viet-Nam as you have in your last press conference, aren't you making it more difficult to come to some form of solution, because you're giving the impression now that the whole question of Viet-Nam is not so much to help a small power, as was explained previously, to come to its self-decisions, but now you're putting it as a problem of China and the dangers of China in the Far East?"

Secretary Rusk: "Well, this is not something that is an opinion solely of my own. There are many countries in Asia who are concerned about Peking and their attitude. I have no doubt that if Peking were strongly to support the reconvening of a Geneva conference that there might well be a Geneva conference, for example. At the present time, they bitterly oppose such a conference.

"This is a question that affects many countries. There are more than 20 regiments of North Vietnamese in South Viet-Nam. There are North Vietnamese regiments in Laos, opposed here by Laotian forces. There are North Vietnamesetrained guerrillas now operating in the northeast of Thailand. We hear reports of Chinese assistance going to the guerrillas in Burma. The Indonesians charge that the Chinese were deeply involved in that attempted coup d'etat in 1965. We know the shooting that occurred recently along the Sikkim border between Indian and Chinese forces.

"So that these are--and we also have heard from Prince Sihanouk in the last 2 or 3 weeks that he himself is not very happy about what he thinks the Chinese are doing in Cambodia. The Chinese are even quarreling with Switzerland. They reach out to places like Kenya and Ceylon and other places.

"It's not just their difficulties with the Soviet Union, India, the United States, United Kingdom. They find it difficult to get along with almost anyone, except their great and good friend Albania.

"So I don't think that we can pretend that the policies of China and some of the actions being taken by China are a contribution toward peace in Asia. At least our Asian friends don't think so."

* * *

Mr. Ruge: "Mr. Secretary, if the aim of U.S. policy is now mainly containment of China, how do you envision the future of Asia? Do you expect to have all the other Asian countries armed to the point where they're strong enough to resist China, or is that a permanent role for the United States in the Pacific as the gendarmes for a couple of billions?"

Secretary Rusk: "Well, I myself have not used that term 'containment of China.' It is true that at the present time we have an alliance with Korea, Japan, the Republic of China on Taiwan, the Philippines, Thailand, Australia, and New Zealand. Now, does that system of alliances add up to containment? That is something one can judge.

"Would the determination of India not to permit Chinese intrusions across its long frontier be containment? That is to judge. My guess is that none of the countries of free Asia want to see themselves overrun by mainland China, and in the case of some of those countries we have an alliance. Now, we have not ourselves undertaken to be the world's policeman, for all purposes, all around the globe. But we do have some alliances and those alliances are very serious to us and unless we take them seriously, my guess is that some very serious dangers will erupt not only in Asia but in other places."

* * *

Secretary Rusk: "Back in 1964, in August 1964, our Congress with only two dissenting votes, declared that it was in the vital interest of the United States and of world peace that there be peace in Southeast Asia. Ten years earlier the Senate had approved our SEATO Treaty with only one dissenting vote in the Senate.

"Now, the basis for these alliances that we made in the Pacific was that the security of those areas was vital to the security of the United States. We did not go into these alliances as a matter of altruism, to do someone else a favor. We went into them because we felt that the security of Australia and the United States, New Zealand and the United States, was so interlinked that we and they ought to have an alliance with each other, and similarly with the other alliances we have in the Pacific, as with the alliance in NATO. So that these alliances themselves rest upon a sense of the national security interests of the United States and not just on a fellow feeling for friends in some other part of the world."

Return to Vinnie's Home Page

Return to Vietnam War Page