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sounded a cautionary note. It has characterized
the United States as a paper tiger and has in-
sisted that the revolutionary struggle for "liber-
ation and unification" of Viet-Nam could be
conducted without risks by, in effect, crawling
under the nuclear and the conventional defense
of the free world. Peiping thus appears to feel
that it has a large stake in demonstrating the
new strategy, using Viet-Nam as a test case.
Success in Viet-Nam would be regarded by
Peiping as vindication for China's views in the
worldwide ideological struggle.

Taking into account the relationship of Viet-
Nam to Indochina — and of both to Southeast
Asia, the Far East, and the free world as a
whole — five U.S. Presidents have acted to pre-
serve free- world strategic interests in the area.
President Eoosevelt opposed Japanese penetra-
tion in Indochina; President Truman resisted
Communist aggression in Korea; President
Eisenhower backed Diem's efforts to save South
Viet-Nam and undertook to defend Taiwan;
President Kennedy stepped up our counter-
insurgency effort in Viet-Nam; and President
Johnson, in addition to reaffirming last week
that the United States will furnish assistance
and support to South Viet-Nam for as long as
it is required to bring Communist aggression
and terrorism under control,* has approved the

* For a White House statement Issued on Mar. 17 at
the close of a meeting of the National Security Council
at which Secretar.v McNamara and General Taylor
reported to the President and the Council on their in-
spection trip to the Republic of Viet-Nam, see ibid.,
Apr. 6, 1964, p. 522.

program that I shall describe in a few minutes.
The U.S. role in South Viet-Nam, then, is:
first, to answer the call of the South Vietnamese,
a member nation of our free-world family, to
help them save their country for themselves;
second, to Iielp prevent the strategic danger
which would exist if communism absorbed
Southeast Asia's people and resources; and
third, to prove in the Vietnamese test case that
the free world can cope with Conmiunist "wars
of liberation" as we have coped successfully with
Communist aggression at other levels.

The Current Situation

I referred earlier to the progress in South
Viet-Nam durmg 1954^1959. In our concern
over the seriousness of the Viet Cong insur-
gency, we sometimes overlook the fact that a
favorable comparison still exists between prog-
ress in the South — notwithstanding nearly 15
years of bitter warfare — and the relative stag-
nation in North Viet-Nam.

The so-called "Democratic Republic of Viet-
Nam," with a greater population than the South
and only a marginally smaller area, appears to
be beset by a variety of weaknesses, the most
prominent of which is its agricultural failure.
Mismanagement, some poor weather, and a lack
of fertilizers and insecticides have led to a seri-
ous rice shortage. The 1963 per capita output
of rice was about 20 percent lower than 1960.
Before the June 1964 harvests, living standards
will probably decline further in the cities, and
critical food shortages may appear in some of
the villages. Furthermore, prospects for the
June rice crops are not bright.

The internal transportation system remains
primitive, and Hanoi has not met the quotas
establislied for hea\'y industry. As for the
people, they appear to be generally apathetic to
what the party considers the needs of the state,
and the peasantry has shown considerable in-
genuity in frustrating the policies of the Gov-

In contrast, in the Republic of Viet-Nam,
despite Communist attempts to control or in-
hibit every aspect of the domestic economy, out-
put continued to rise. In 196.3 South Viet-Nam
was once more able to export- some 300,000 tons
of rice. Add to this the ja re- 1960 record : up to



1960, significant production incrcnses in rice,
rubber, sugar, textiles, and electric power, a 20-
percent rise in per capita income, threefold ex-
pansion of schools, and restoration of the trans-
portation system. One cannot but conclude
that, given stability and lack of subversive dis-
ruption, South Vict-Nam would dramatically
outstrip its northern neighbor and could become
a peaceful and prosperous contributor to the
well-being of the Far East as a whole.

But, as we have seen, the Communists — be-
cause South Viet-Nam is not theirs — are out to
deny any such bright prospects.

In the years inunediately following the sign-
ing of the 1954 Geneva accords, the Communists
in North Viet-Nam gave first priority to build-
ing armed forces far larger tlian those of any
other Southeast Asian coimtry. They did this
to establish iron control over their own popula-
tion and to insure a secure base for subversion in
South Viet-Nam and Laos. In South Viet-
Nam, instead of withdrawing fully, the
Communists maintained a holding guerrilla
operation, and they left behind cadres of men
and large caches of weapons for later use.

Beginning in 1959, as we have seen, the Com-
mimists realized that they were losing the game
and intensified their subvereive attack. In
June 1962 a special report on Viet-Nam was is-
sued by the International Control Commission,^
a unit created by the Geneva conference and
composed of a Canadian, an Indian, and a Pole.
Though it received little publicity at the time,
this report presented evidence of Hanoi's sub-
versive activities in South Viet-Nam and spe-
cifically fomid Hanoi guilty of violating the
Geneva accords.

Since then, the illegal campaign of terror,
violence, and subversion conducted by the Viet
Cong and directed and supported from the
north has greatly expanded. Military men,
specialists, and secret agents continue to infil-
trate into South Viet-Nam both directly from
the north and through Laos and Cambodia.
The flow of Communist-supplied weapons, par-
ticularly those of large caliber, has increased.
These include Chinese 75 mm. recoilless rifles
and heavy macliineguns. Tons of explosive-

producing chemicals snniggled in for use by the
Viet Cong have been intercepted along with
many munitions manufactured in Ked China
and, to a lesser extent, elsewhere in the Commu-
nist bloc. In December 1903 a Government
force attacked a Viet Cong stronghold in Dinh
Tuong Province and seized a large cache of
equipment, some of which was of Chinese Com-
munist manufacture. The Chinese equipment
included a 90 mm. rocket launcher, 00 mm.
mortars, carbines, TNT, and hundreds of thou-
sands of roimds of various kinds of ammuni-
tion. Some of the ammunition was manufac-
tured as recently as 1902.

When President Diem appealed to President
Kennedy at the end of 1901, the South Viet-
namese were quite plainly losing their fight
against tlie Communists, and we promptly
agreed to increase our assistance.

Fourteen months later, in early 1963, Presi-
dent Kemiedy w^as able to report to the nation
that "The spearpoint of aggression has been
blunted in South Viet-Nam." " It was evident
that the Government had seized the initiative
in most areas from the insurgents. But this
progress was interrupted in 1963 by the political
crises arising from troubles between the Gov-
ernment and the Buddliists, students, and other
non-Communist oppositionists. President Diem
lost the confidence and loyalty of his people;
there were accusations of maladministration
and injustice. There were two changes of gov-
ernment within 3 months. The fabric of gov-
ernment was torn. The political control
structure extending from Saigon down into the
hamlets virtually disappeared. Of the 41 in-
cumbent province chiefs on November 1 of last
year, 35 were replaced. Nine provinces had
three chiefs in 3 months; one province had four.
Scores of lesser officials were replaced. Almost
all major military commands changed hands
twice. Tlie confidence of the peasants was
inevitably shaken by the disruptions in leader-
ship and the loss of physical security. Army
and paramilitary desertion rates increased, and
the morale of the hamlet militia — the "Minute-
men" — fell. In many areas power vacuums

"^ For a Department statement regarding the report,
see ibid., July 16, 1962, p. 109.

* For excerpts from President Kennedy's state of the
Union message of Jan. 14, 1963, see ibid., Feb. 4, 1963,
p. 159.

APRIL 13, 19G4


developed causing confusion among the people
and a rising rate of rural disorders.

The Viet Cong fully exploited the resultant
organizational turmoil and regained the initia-
tive in the struggle. For example, in the second
week following the November coup, Viet Cong
incidents more than tripled from 316, peaking
at 1,021 per week, while Goverimient casualties
rose from 367 to 928. Many overextended ham-
lets have been overrun or severely damaged.
The January change in government produced a
similar reaction.

In short, the situation in South Viet- Nam has
unquestionably worsened, at least since last fall.

The picture is admittedly not an easy one
to evaluate and, given the kind of terrain and
the kind of war, information is not always
available or reliable. The areas imder Com-
munist control vary from daytime to nighttime,
from one week to another, according to seasonal
and weather factors. Ajid, of course, in vari-
ous areas the degree and importance of control
differ. Although we estimate that in South
Viet-Nam's 14 million population there are
only 20,000 to 25,000 "hard core" Viet Cong
guerrillas, they have been able to recruit from
among the South Vietnamese an irregular force
of from 60,000 to 80,000 — mainly by coercion
and "bandwagon" effect, but also by promising
material and political rewards. The loyalties
of the hard coi'e have been cemented by years
of fighting, first against the Japanese, tlien
against the French, and, since 1954, against the
fledgling government of South Viet-Nam. The
young men joining them have been attracted by
the excitement of the guerrilla life and then
held by bonds of loyalty to their new comrades-
in-arms, in a nation where loyalty is only be-
ginning to extend beyond the family or the
clan. These loyalties are reinforced both by
systematic indoctrination and by the example
of what happens to infoiTnere and deserters.

Clearly, the disciplined leadership, direction,
and support from North Viet-Nam is a critical
factor in the strength of the Viet Cong move-
ment. But the large indigenous support that
the Viet Oong receives means that solutions
must be as political and economic as military.
Indeed, there can be no such thing as a purely
"military" solution to tlie war in South Viet-

The people of South Viet-Nam prefer inde-
pendence and freedom. But they will not ex-
ercise their choice for freedom and commit
themselves to it in the face of the high personal
risk of Communist retaliation — a kidnaped son,
a burned home, a ravaged crop — unless they
can have confidence in the ultimate outcome.
Much therefore depends on the new govern-
ment under General Khanh, for which we have
high hopes.

Today the government of General Khanh is
vigorously rebuilding the machinery of admin-
istration and reshaping plans to carry the war
to the Viet Cong. He is an able and energetic
leader. He has demonstrated his grasp of the
basic elements — political, economic, and psy-
chological, as well as military — required to de-
feat the Viet Cong. He is planning a program
of economic and social advances for the wel-
fare of his people. He has brought into sup-
port of the Government representatives of key
groups previously excluded. He and his col-
leagues have developed plans for systematic
liberation of areas now submissive to Viet Cong
duress and for mobilization of all available
Vietnamese resources in the defense of the

At the same time, General Khanh has under-
stood the need to improve South Viet-Nam's
relations with its neighbors, Cambodia and
Laos; he has taken steps toward conciliation,
and he has been quick and forthright in ex-
pressing his Government's regret over the re-
cent Vietnamese violation of Cambodia's bor-
ders. In short, he has demonstrated the energy,
comprehension, and decision required by the
difficult circumstances that he faces.

A Program To Meet Our Objectives

Before describing the means by which we
hope to assist the South Vietnamese to succeed
in their undertaking, let me point out the op-
tions that President Johnson had before him
when he received General Taylor's and my re-
port last week.

Some critics of our present policy have sug-
gested one option — that wo simply withdraw.
This the United States totally rejects for rea-
sons I have stated.

Other critics have called for a second and



similar option — a "neutralization" of Viet- Nam.
This, however, is (lie game of "wiiat's mine is
mine, and wliat's yours is negotiable." No one
seriously Iwlieves the Communists would agree
to neutralization of North Viet-Nam. And, so
far as South Viet-Nam is concerned, we have
learned from the past that the Comnumists
rarely honor the kind of treaty that rmis coun-
ter to their compulsion to expand.

Under the shadow of Communist power,
neutralization would in reality be an interim
device to permit Communist consolidation and
eventual takeover. When General Taylor and
I were in Hue, at the north end of South Viet-
Nam, 2 weeks ago, several Vietnamese students
carried posters which showed their recognition
of the reality of neutralization. The signs
read : "Neutralize today, communize tomorrow."

Neutralization of South Viet-Nam, which is
today under unprovoked subversive attack,
would not be in any sense an achievement of
the objectives I have outlined. As we tried to
convey in Laos, we have no objection in prin-
ciple to neutrality in the sense of nonalinement.
But even there vre are learning lessons. Com-
munist abuse of the Geneva accords, by treating
the Laos corridor as a sanctuary for infiltra-
tion, constantly threatens the precarious neu-
trality. "Neutralization of South Viet-Nam" —
an ambiguous phrase at best — was therefore

The third option before the President was
initiation of military actions outside South
Viet-Nam, particularly against North Viet-
Nam, in order to supplement the counterinsur-
gency program in South Viet-Nam. This course
of action — its implications and ways of carry-
ing it out — has been carefully studied.

Wliatever ultimate course of action may be
forced upon us by the other side, it is clear that
actions under this option would be only a sup-
plement to, not a substitute for, progress with-
in South Viet-Nam's own borders.

The fourth course of action was to concen-
trate on helping the South Vietnamese win the
battle in their own country. This, all agree,
is essential no matter what else is done.

The President therefore approved the 12
recommendations that General Taylor and I
made relating to this option.

"We have reaffirmed U.S. support for South

Viet-Nam's Government and pledgetl economic
assistance and military training and logistical
support for as long as it takes to bring the in-
surgency under control.

"We will support the Government of South
Viet-Nam in carrying out its anti-insurgency
plan. Under that plan. Prime Minister Khanh
intends to implement a national mobilization
program to mobilize all national resources in
the struggle. This means improving the qual-
ity of the strategic hamlets, building them sys-
tematically outward from secure areas, and cor-
recting previous overextension. The security
forces of Viet-Nam will be increased by at least
50,000 men. They will be consolidated, and
their efTectiveness and conditions of service will
be improved. They will press the campaign
with increased intensity. "We will provide re-
quired additional materiel. This will include
strengthening of the Vietnamese Air Force with
better aircraft and improving the mobility of
tlie ground forces.

A broad national program is to be carried out,
giving top priority to rural needs. The pro-
gram includes land reform, loans to tenant farm-
ers, health and welfare measures, economic de-
velopment, and improved status for ethnic mi-
norities and paramilitary troops.

A Civil Administrative Corps will be estab-
lished to bring better public services to the peo-
ple. This will include teachers, health tech-
nicians, agricultural workers, and other tech-
nicians. The initial goal during 1964 will be
at least 7,500 additional persons; ultimately
there will be at least 40,000 men for more than
8,000 hamlets, in 2,500 villages and 43 provinces.

Farm productivity will be increased through
doubled use of fertilizers to provide immediate
and direct benefits to peasants in secure areas
and to increase both their earnings and the
nation's export earnings.

"We have learned that in Viet-Nam political
and economic progress are the sine qua non of
military success and that military security is
equally a prerequisite of internal progress. Our
future joint efforts with the Vietnamese are
going to apply these lessons.

To conclude : Let me reiterate that our goal
is peace and stability, both in Viet-Nam and
Southeast Asia. But we have learned that
"peace at any price" is not practical in the long

APRIL 13, 1964


run and that the cost of defending freedom
must be borne if we are to have it at all.

The road ahead in Viet-Nam is going to be
long, difficult, and frustrating. It will take
work, courage, imagination, and — perhaps more
than anytliing else — patience to bear the burden
of what President Kennedy called a "long twi-
light struggle." In Viet-Nam, it has not been
finished in the first hundred days of President

Johnson's administration, and it may not be
fhiished in the first 1,000 days; but, in coopera-
tion with General Khanh's government, we have
made a beginning. When the day comes that
we can safely withdraw, we expect to leave an
independent and stable South Viet-Nam, rich
with resources and bright with prospects for
contributing to the peace and prosperity of
Southeast Asia and of the world.

Secretary Rusk's News Conference of March 27

Press release 135 dated March 27

Secretary Rusk : I see the ranks are a bit thin
this afternoon. I trust I have not intruded
miduly into what I hope will be a long weekend
for you. If your boss asks you, I see no particu-
lar reason why you need to spend an inordinate
amount of time around this department this
weekend, but that could change without notice.

I am ready for your questions.

Q. Mr. Secretary, rather than get involved in
a philosophical question about myths and reali-
ties, I ask you more directly your observations
on Senator [J. TF.] Fulbrighfs comment that
the administration'' s current policy toward Cuba
is somewhat less than successful and that Castro
is really an unpleasant nuisance rather than an
intolerable danger.

A. Well, Senator Fulbright, as he has done
often in the past, has come forward with a
thoughtful and a thought-provoking statement.
He has made it clear that he was not speaking
for the administration, he was speaking for
himself; he was not floating a trial balloon for
the administration. And we don't have time,
and I think it would be inappropriate for me to
take up his speech on a paragraph-by-para-
graph basis.

There are a number of things in it with which
I fully agree. We are in a period of change.
I have indicated to you on a number of oc-
casions that we are on the front edge of im-
portant changes in the world situation. Things

are in motion. And it is very important, there-
fore, for us to try to understand what those
changes mean and how United States interests
are related to those changes and how they bear
upon the great issue of freedom in the world.

I mean, for example. Senator Fulbright
referred to changes in the Communist world.
I myself spoke to that point before the Electri-
cal Workers not long ago and tried to outline
why we treat different Communist countries

You know that the legislative branch, through
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and
executive branch and private groups are taking
a look at this question of East- West trade. Al-
though there are severe limitations on tlie extent
to which such trade in any event might develop,
it is a matter that is worth further examination
after the events of the last several years.

There are other points with which I would
not agree. I think that Castro is more than a
nuisance. He is a threat to this hemisphere.
In the case of Venezuela there was a very direct
threat through arms, through a plan, through
an attempt to take over that constitutional and
democratic Government by violent means at the
time of their recent election.

Mr. Castro knows and has known for a long

' For text of Secretary Rusk's address before the In-
tornational Union of Electrical, Radio and Machine
Workers, at Washington, D.C., on Feb. 25, see Bul-
letin of Mar. 16, 1964, p. 390.



time that his military and political connection
witli Moscow and his attempt to interfere in
the allairs of otlier countries in tiiis hemispiiere
are insuperable obstacles to anything like nor-
mal relations between himself and the rest of
this hemisj)here. And whether ho himself could
survive a change in those two points is a matter
that rests more in Cuba than outside.

But, neverthelciis, when a country like Vene-
zuela — when other countries of this hemisphere
find themselves under pressure from Castro
througli agents or fimds or subversion of any
sort, then it is up to the United States to join
with those countries to see that this threat is
met and dealt with.

Now, it is true that economic isolation of
Cuba has not been complete, but it has been
very substantial. There has been a very sharp
reduction in Cuba's trade with the free world,
a very sharp reduction in free-world shipping,
a very sharp reduction in free-world travel with

Now, these are important and limiting
Castro's ability to work his mischief outside
of his own frontiers and to demonstrate both in
Cuba and outside that this particular course
is not the path of the future.

Now, in Panama, I don't want to get into
that very much because we are very close on
that, and it may be that we can work out a way
to get back to the table without too much delay
and get to a frank discussion of any differences
that might exist between us. We have had to
be concerned about the problem of the type of
precommitment, precondition, which would
simply postpone for a time a charge of bad
faith and possibly erode the validity of exist-
ing arrangements through treaties and a num-
ber of other agreements which regidate our
relations with that country. But I think it is
quite clear from the statements made by the
two Presidents of the two countries that the
common interest here is recognized and that we
do hope that we can find a way back to the
conference table without undue delay.

I don't want to go into other matters in
specific relation to Senator Fulbright's speech,
but we travel on a main highway of policy on
which there are soft shouldere on either side
and our great task is to try to understand real-
istically what is going on in the world, what

the present situation is, what the prospects can
be, and avoid the myths that are involved in
the soft slioulders in eitiier direction.

On the one side, to avoid illusions that blind
us to the actual changes that are going on, try
to keei> ourselves fully informed and related
to those changes. On the other side, the myths
that might develop under the impression that
changes have already occurred that are much
more far-reaching than in fact they are because
we do have dangerous and difficult problems in
front of us.

And so, I do think that his statement was a
contribution to a discussion that is worth while
in this country because the people of this coun-
try determine our policy and its main lines in
the long run. But I think that perhaps I ought
not to try to take it up on detailed paragraph-
by-paragraph basis.

Q. Mr. Secretary .1 Senator Fulbrighfs main
point was not that the economic isolation of
Cuba xoas incomplete, as you have put it, but
that the economic blocJmde has failed and that
to continue it at the risk of alienating our Eu-
ropean friends is just going to lead to more and
more trouble. Do you agree?

A. I think that would underestimate the ex-
tent of cooperation which countries in this

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 50, Apr- Jun 1964) → online text (page 9 of 84)