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I think the question of negotiations — again,
some people may think I am being much too
simple about this — turns on what the attitude
of the North is toward its attempt to take
over South Viet-Nam by force. There is no
problem of negotiations if they are willing to
negotiate. Now, this would be the problem
faced by a civilian government or by us or
by anybody else. So the key to this lies in

Mr. Kalb: Mr. Secretary, you used the ex-
pression that some people may feel that you
are "putting it in somewhat simple form."
You said before that some people say this is
a "trite expression," when you talked about
the neighbor idea.

There has been over the past years some
criticism leveled quite directly at you, sir, and
very recently a respected columnist from the
New York Times said that you were "a tired
man." I am wondering,, sir, how all of this
criticism strikes you and how you yourself
respond to it.

Secretary Rusk: It doesn't bother me very
much. I would regret it if everybody older
than I am should leave what they are doing
now. This would include a good many col-
umnists and other distinguished figures. No,
there are times when it is noon halfway
around the world and midnight here in
Washington, and sometimes there are long
days. But I feel fine. And I am greatly stimu-
lated and inspired by President Johnson's
own example and by the privilege I have in
trying to help him build a peace in the world.
This is the important thing. And if I can
contribute anything to it, I am at his disposal.

Mr. Agronsky: Mr. Secretary, could we
anticipate, then, that you would be in a posi-
tion to accept an invitation on January 1,
1968, to "face the nation" ?

Secretary Rtisk: Well, if you invite me, I
will take it under consideration if I am in a
position to receive that invitation at that
time. As you know, the Secretary of State
serves at the pleasure of the President, and
this is a matter for him. But I think every
American ought to be at his disposal if he
wants them to serve.

Mr. Cook: Mr. Secretary, the Chinese have

A.NUARY 23, 1967


been suggesting of late that we and the
Soviets are on a "collusion course." Is there
enough collusion here to expect any prolifera-
tion treaty within the next —

Secretary Rusk: Well, this is a very inter-
esting ideological factor that comes into it.
You see, for many, many years both the
Soviet Union and Communist China have sort
of branded us as Enemy Number One. Now
they are in a considerable to-do with each
other. And so it is rather natural for Peking
to charge that somehow Moscow and Wash-
ington are in a conspiracy and for Moscow
to be suspicious about whether we and
Peking are not in some sort of conspiracy,
because Moscow says that Peking is stand-
ing in the way of the unity of the Communist
world in dealing with the imperialists. I
think this is an internal ideological point. As
a matter of fact, we are not in a conspiracy
either with Moscow or with Peking, and both
capitals can relax on that point as far as I
am concerned.

Hope for Nortproliferation Treaty

Mr. Cook: On the antiproliferation treaty,
sir, the President said yesterday, I believe,
that in recent weeks there have been some
signs of progress. What is that progress ? Do
you expect an early draft of the treaty?

Secretary Rusk: Well, we would hope very
much in 1967 — among the great hopes would
be that we get peace in Viet-Nam, that we
get a nonproliferation treaty, and that the
nations of the world can take some strong
steps toward meeting the emerging food
crisis which is going to be with us for the
next decade.

On the nonproliferation treaty, there have
been discussions. These matters are being
discussed among our allies, as well as with the
members of the Geneva conference. Some of
the underbrush has been cleared away. But
we still do not have an agreement yet, as the
President indicated. We hope very much we
could come to an agreement during 1967.

Mr. Agronsky: Mr. Secretary, how realis-
tic could any such antiproliferation treaty be
that did not include Communist China?

Secretary Rusk: Well, the question would
be who proliferates and to whom? Now, in
a purely technical sense, even though Peking
may not be a party to such an agreement, if
everybody else is, there is no one with whom
to proliferate.

I personally believe that existing nuclear
powers have a strong interest in a nonpro-
liferation treaty because it is almost in the
nature of this weapon that they do not look
with favor on its further spread throughout
the world.

But in any event, we are working at it. We
would hope very much that Peking would
take part in it, although on past performance
we have no reason to think that they will. But
it is a matter that the rest of the world has
to grapple with.

You know our basic attitude has been that
one nuclear power is too many. One of the
great tragedies is that the Baruch proposals
of 1946 were not accepted. And if one is too
many, then five are too many. But certainly
10, 15, would be too many.

We can take some comfort from the fact
that we have had 21 years now in which a
nuclear weapon has not been fired in anger
But we had better be very careful about try-
ing to limit that possibility for the future.

Mr. Cook: Well, the Chinese just firec
another test this week, Mr. Secretary. Hav<
you revised your estimate of their timetable
when they will have an ICBM that coulc
threaten us ?

Secretary Rusk: No, I have not. Mr. McNa-
mara has dealt with that. It will take somt
time yet. But there is no question this is an
ominous development in the world situation

Mr. Agronsky: Thank you very much, Mrr
Secretary — I wish we had time to go on — fow|
being here to "face the nation."

Secretary Rusk: Thank you.





Secretary Rusk Redefines United States Policy
on Viet-Nam for Student Leaders

Following are texts of a letter from Sec-
retary Rusk to 100 student leaders and the
students' letter of December 29 addressed to
President Johnson. Secretary Rusk's letter
was forwarded to Robert Powell, president
of the student body, University of North
Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C.



Press release 2 dated January 6

January 4, 1967

Dear Stxjdent Leaders: I have received
,nd read carefully your thoughtful letter to

e President about our policy in Viet-Nam.

Your interest and your concern are shared
•y most thinking Americans. No one desires

ore strongly to bring an early and honor-
able conclusion to the conflict in Viet-Nam
than those who are working day and night,
both here and in Viet-Nam, to achieve that

The questions you have raised are among
those that have been asked and discussed re-
peatedly in the councils of your Government.
If some of these matters continue, as you
say, to agitate the academic community, it
is certainly not because answers have not
been provided. It is more, I think, because
the answers to great and complex questions
can never fully satisfy all the people in a
free and questioning society.

Nevertheless, I am glad to have the chance
to address myself to the four specific ques-
tions about which you stated you and others
.felt doubt or concern.

(First, you asked if America's vital in-
srests are sufficiently threatened in Viet-

JANUARY 23, 1967

Nam to necessitate the growing commitment

There is no shadow of doubt in my mind
that our vital interests are deeply involved in
Viet-N^jn and in Southeast Asia.

We are involved because the nation's word
has been given that we would be involved.
On February 1, 1955, by a vote of 82 to 1
the United States Senate passed the South-
east Asia Collective Defense Treaty. That
Treaty stated that aggression by means of
armed attack in the treaty area would en-
danger our own peace and safety and, in that
event, "we would act to meet the common
danger." There is no question that an ex-
panding armed attack by North Viet-Nam on
South Viet-Nam has been under way in re-
cent years; and six nations, with vital inter-
ests in the peace and security of the region,
have joined South Viet-Nam in defense
against that armed attack.

Behind the words and the commitment of
the Treaty lies the lesson learned in the
tragic half century since the First World
War. After that war our country withdrew
from eff'ective world responsibility. When ag-
gressors challenged the peace in Manchuria,
Ethiopia, and then Central Europe during
the 1930's, the world community did not act
to prevent their success. The result was a
Second World War — which could have been

That is why the Charter of the United
Nations begins with these words: "We the
peoples of the United Nations determined to
save succeeding generations from the scourge
of war, which twice in our lifetime has
brought untold sorrow to mankind. . . ." And
the Charter goes on to state these objectives:


"to establish conditions under which justice
and respect for the obligations arising from
treaties and other sources of international
law can be maintained . . . and to unite our
strength to maintain international peace and
security. . . ."

This was also the experience President
Truman had in mind when — at a period
when the United Nations was incapable of
protecting Greece and Turkey from aggres-
sion — he said:' "We shall not realize our ob-
jectives unless we are willing to help free
peoples to maintain their free institutions
and their national integrity against aggres-
sive movements that seek to impose upon
them totalitarian regimes."

These are the memories which have in-
spired the four postwar American Presidents
as they dealt with aggressive pressures and
thrusts from Berlin to Korea, from the Car-
ibbean to Viet-Nam.

In short, we are involved in Viet-Nam be-
cause we know from painful experience that
the minimum condition for order on our
planet is that aggression must not be per-
mitted to succeed. For when it does succeed,
the consequence is not peace, it is the further
expansion of aggression.

And those who have borne responsibility
in our country since 1945 have not for one
moment forgotten that a third world war
would be a nuclear war.

The result of this conviction and this
policy has been a generation's effort which
has not been easy for the United States. We
have borne heavy burdens. We have had to
face some conflict and a series of dangerous

But the hard and important fact is that
in the postwar world external aggression has
not been permitted to develop its momentum
into general war.

Look back and imagine the kind of world
we now would have if we had adopted a dif-
ferent course. What kind of Europe would
now exist if there had been no commitment
to Greece and Turkey? No Marshall Plan?
No NATO? No defense of BerUn? Would
Europe and the world be better off or worse?

• Bulletin Supplement, May 4, 1947, p. 829.

Would the possibilities of detente be on the
present horizon?

Then turn the globe and look at Asia. If
we had made no commitments and offered no
assistance, what kind of Asia would there^
now be? Would there be a confident and vital
South Korea? A prosperous and peaceful
Japan? Would there be the new spirit of
regional cooperation and forward movement
now developing throughout Asia?

If you were to talk to the leaders of Asia
as I have, you would know what Asians
really think of our commitment in Viet-
Nam. You would know that the new vigor
in Asia, the new hope and determination, are
based in part on the conviction that the
United States will continue to support the
South Vietnamese in their struggle to build
a life of their own within the framework of
the Geneva Accords in 1954 and 1962 — that
we shall see it through to an honorable peace.

Second, you wonder whether our vital in-
terests are best protected by our growing

We must always weigh what we are doing
against the requirements of the situation and
what the other side is doing. You are aware,
I am sure, that the flow of men and material
from North Viet-Nam into the South rad-
ically increased towards the end of 1964 and
continued at a high level in the next two
years. It was to meet that escalation, de-
signed to achieve military victory by the
North against the South, that we sent our
men in large numbers and began an air cam-
paign against military targets in North Viet-

At the other end of the scale, one must
contrast what we are doing with what we
could be doing. You know the power that is
available to us — in men, resources and

We have done both more than some people
would wish, and less than others advocate.
We have been guided both by the demands
imposed upon us by increased aggression and
by the need for restraint in the application
of force. We have been doing what the Presi-
dent judges to be necessary to protect the
nation's vital interests, after hearing the
views of the government's military and civil-



ian experts. We shall continue to do what is
necessary to meet the threat the Vietnamese
and their allies face.

Third, you raise the question whether a
war that may devastate much of the country-
side can lead to the stable and prosperous
Viet-Nam we hope for.

First, it is an error to suggest that the
fighting in Viet-Nam has devastated "much
of the countryside." There has been too much
destruction and disruption — as there is in
any war. And we deeply regret the loss of
life that is involved — in the South and in the
North, among both soldiers and civilians.

But devastation has been far less than on
the conventional battlefields of World War
II and Korea. If peace could come to South
Viet-Nam today, I think most people would
be amazed at its rapid recovery. For the
Vietnamese are intelligent, energetic and am-
bitious people. And they are determined to
see their country prosper. I am confident that
they can achieve that end — if they but have
the chance to do so, in peace and in their
own way.

That day cannot come too soon.

You also suggest that there are "apparent
jontradictions" in the American position on
efforts to achieve a negotiated settlement.

We have said that there will be no diffi-
culty in having the views of the Viet Cong
presented at any serious negotiation. The de-
:ails of how this might be done can be dis-
cussed with the other side; there is little
joint in negotiating such details with those
A^ho cannot stop the fighting.

We have made it clear that .we cannot ac-
;ept the Liberation Front as the "sole" or
'only legitimate voice" of the Vietnamese
people. Yet that is what the Front has said
t is. The Buddhists, Catholics, Cao Dai, Hoa
ilao, ethnic Cambodians, the almost a mil-
ion refugees who fled from North Viet-Nam
;o the South in 1954-55, and the Monta-
?nards are not prepared to have the Libera-
ion Front as their spokesman. The capacity
)f the Government and people of South Viet-
"^am to conduct the election of the Constitu-
ional Assembly in September 1966, despite
he opposition of the Viet Cong, made it clear

that the VC are a small minority in the coun-
try, detei-mined to convert their ability to
organize for terror into domination over the
majority. Those now enrolled with the Viet
Cong should be turning their minds in a
diflferent direction. They should be asking:
"How can we end this war and join as free
citizens in the making of a modern nation in
South Viet-Nam?"

We know that the effort at armed conquest
which we oppose in Viet-Nam is organized,
led, and supplied by the leaders in Hanoi. We
know that the struggle will not end until
those leaders decide that they want it to end.

So we stand ready — now and at any time
in the future — to sit down with representa-
tives of Hanoi, either in public or in secret,
to work out arrangements for a just solu-

You state correctly that we have a com-
mitment to the right of self-determination
of the people of South Viet-Nam. There is
no ambiguity whatsoever. We shall abide by
the decision of the Vietnamese people as they
make their wishes known in free and demo-
cratic elections. Hanoi and the Liberation
Front do not agree.

You also suggest that there is disparity
between our statements and our actions in
Viet-Nam, and you refer to recent reports
of the results of our bombing in North Viet-

It is our policy to strike targets of a mili-
tary nature, especially those closely related
to North Viet-Nam's efforts to conquer the
South. We have never deliberately attacked
any target that could legitimately be called
civilian. We have not bombed cities or di-
rected our efforts against the population of
North Viet-Nam.

We recognize that there has been loss of
life. We recognize that people living or work-
ing in close proximity to military targets may
have suffered. We recognize, too, that men
and machines are not infallible and that some
mistakes have occurred.

But there is a vast difference between such
unintentional events and a deliberate policy
of attacking civilian centers. I would remind
you that tens of thousands of civilians have

ANUARY 23, 1967


been killed, wounded, or kidnapped in South
Viet-Nam, not by accident but as the result
of a deliberate policy of terrorism and intim-
idation conducted by the Viet Cong.

We regret all the loss of life and property
that this conflict entails. We regret that a
single person, North or South, civilian or
soldier, American or Vietnamese, must die.

And the sooner this conflict can be settled,
the happier we and the Vietnamese people
will be.

Meantime, we shall continue to do what
is necessary — to protect the vital interests
of the United States, to stand by our allies
in Asia, and to work with all our energy
for a peaceful, secure and prosperous South-
east Asia. Only by meeting these commit-
ments can we keep on this small and vulner-
able planet the minimum conditions for peace
and order.

Only history will be able to judge the
wisdom and the full meaning of our present
course — in all its dimensions.

But I would close by sharing with you a
hope and a belief. I believe that we are com-
ing towards the end of an era when men can
believe it is profitable and, even, possible to
change the status quo by applying external
force. I believe those in Hanoi who persist
in their aggressive adventure — and those who
support them — represent ideas and methods
from the past, not the future. Elsewhere in
the world those committed to such concepts
have faded or are fading from the scene.

I believe, therefore, that if we and our
allies have the courage, will, and durability
to see this struggle through to an honorable
peace, based on the reinstallation of the
Geneva Accords of 1954 and 1962, we have
a fair chance of entering quieter times in
which all of us will be able to turn more of
our energies to the great unfinished tasks
of human welfare and to developing the arts
of conciliation and peaceful change.

The overriding question for all of mankind
in this last third of the Twentieth Century is
how to organize a durable peace. Much of the
experience which has gone into answers to
that question has been largely forgotten —
perhaps some of it should be. But the ques-

tion remains — and remains to be answered.
I should much enjoy discussing this with you
if we can find a way to do so.

I would value a chance to discuss the is-
sues posed in your letter with a representa-
tive group of signatories or with as many
as could conveniently join me in Washing-
ton at a mutually agreeable time.

With best wishes and thanks for your seri-
ous concern.

Sincerely yours,

Dean Rusk


December 29, 1966

Dear Mr. President: In your talk to the student
interns last summer,' as on other occasions, you
have recognized and discussed problems that have
been troubling members of our generation. We have
been grateful for your concern and encouraged by
your invitation to express some of our thoughts.

Since many of these thoughts center increasingly
on the situation in Vietnam, the New Year's re-
newal of the truce seems a suitable occasion to report
to you that significant and growing numbers of our
contemporaries are deeply troubled about the pos-
ture of their Government in Vietnam. We believe
the state of mind of these people, though largely
unreported, is of great importance, because there
are many who are deeply troubled for every one who
has been outspoken in dissent.

A great many of those faced with the prospect
of military duty find it hard to square performance
of that duty with concepts of personal integrity and
conscience. Even more are torn by reluctance to
participate in a war whose toll in property and life
keeps escalating, but about whose purpose and value
to the United States they remain unclear.

The truces have highlighted a growing conviction
on American campuses that if our objective in the
fighting in Vietnam is a negotiated settlement
rather than a military "victory," continued escala-
tion cannot be justified by the failure of the other
side to negotiate. If, on the other hand, our objective
is no longer a negotiated settlement, the nature and
attainability of our objectives in Vietnam raise seri-
ous new doubts. There is thus increasing confusion
about both our basic purpose and our tactics, and
there is increasing fear that the course now being
pursued may lead us irrevocably into a major land
war in Asia — a war which many feel could not be
won without recourse to nuclear weapons, if then.

* Weekly Compilation of Presidential Documents,
Aug. 22, 1966, p. 1083.



In this context there is widespread support for the
suggestion of the Pope and others that the resumed
truce be extended de facto by restraint on both sides,
even if no formal agreement is achieved. And there
is hope that if fighting must be resumed in 1967 it
will be resumed on a reduced scale.

In short, Mr. President, a great many of our con-
temporaries, raised in the democratic tradition of
thinking for themselves, are finding a growing con-
flict between their own observations on the one hand,
and statements by Administration leaders about the
war on the other. These are people as devoted to the
Constitution, to the democratic process, and to law
and order as were their fathers and brothers who
served willingly in two World Wars and in Korea.

Unless this conflict can be eased, the United States
will continue to find some of her most loyal and cou-
rageous young people choosing to go to jail rather
than to bear their country's arms, while countless
others condone or even utilize techniques for evading
their legal obligations. Contributing to this situation
is the almost universal conviction that the present
Selective Service Law operates unfairly.

We write in the hope that this letter will encour-
age a frank discussion of these problems. If such a
discussion clarified American objectives in Vietnam,
it might help reverse the drift, which is now from
confusion toward disaffection. To this end, we submit
for your consideration some of the questions now
agitating the academic community:

— There is doubt that such vital interests as may
be threatened are best protected by this growing

— There is doubt that such vital interests as may
oe threatened are best protected by this growing

— There is doubt that a war which may devastate
nuch of the countryside can lead to the stable and
prosperous Vietnam we once hoped our presence
ivould help create.

— There is considerable concern about apparent
contradictions in the American position on certain
joints basic to any efforts to negotiate a settlement.
High Government officials reiterate our eagerness to
legotiate "unconditionally," but we remain unclear
ibout our willingness to accept full participation by
he Viet Cong as an independent party to negotia-
ions. Similarly, Administration spokesmen reiterate
lur commitment to self-determination for South
/ietnam, but we remain unclear about our willing-
less to accept a coalition (or pro-communist) govem-
nent should the people of Vietnam eventually choose
uch a government under adequate international

Finally, Mr. President, we must report a growing
«nse — reinforced by Mr. Harrison Salisbury's re-
cent reports from Hanoi — that too often there is a

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 56, Jan- Mar 1967) → online text (page 29 of 90)