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Q. Are you going to publish these?

A. They were published this morning. We
know from prisoners that the other side
is having severe difficulties of supply, of
feeding themselves, of medical care for their
wounded — things of that sort. So we think
that we are making headway, but the typical
guerrilla problem is still there — that is a
mean and difficult kind of thing to deal with.

Q. — political problems, are you satisfied
with the kind of political advance which may
be taking place, or should be taking place, in
South Viet-Nam — things like land reform
and that kind of thing?



A. Well, I think the most important polit-
ical development this past year has been the
election of the constituent assembly to draft
a constitution under which elections will be
held for a national government. This was
begun on the initiative of the present mili-
tary directorate in January of 1966. This
was repeated by ' this leadership at the
Honolulu meeting, ^ and we put ourselves
behind it because we thought it was a very
good idea. Now, we'll know by the end of
March, early April, what the shape of that
constitution will be. We do believe that the
South Vietnamese leadership is fully com-
mitted to that transition to an elective gov-
ernment. We were encouraged by the num-
bers of those who turned out to elect a
constituent assembly. Many of the govern-
ment candidates failed in the election. They
do represent the various elements in the
population, the Buddhists and the Catholics
and the Montagnards and the other sects,
and so we think there is now in the making
a representative government on the way.
Now, it's not going to be easy, and there will
be perhaps some nervous moments along the
way; but we believe that that is the most
important political advance.

You see, these various groups that I have
mentioned in South Viet-Nam have a genius
for disagreeing among themselves on some
matters, but they do seem to agree with each
other on the one point that they do not
want Hanoi and they do not want the Libera-
tion Front. Now, they are represented in the
constituent assembly, and we would hope
that there would be in this process a sort of
basic political treaty among the different
elements there under which they could
finally get themselves a government which
they themselves have chosen and which
would fairly represent the difi'erent elements
in the population.

Q. Mr. Rusk, is this entirely a fair
analysis? After all, there are the Viet Cong,
and I think most of us are really looking, in
the present situation in South Viet-Nam, for

' For background, see Bulletin of Feb. 28, 1966,
p. 302.

the kind of peace settlement that the United
States is prepared to accept. What kind of
political life in a peaceful South Viet-Nam
tvould the United States concede to the
National Liberation Front?

Question of Viet Cong's Political Role

A. I think that if the Viet Cong were to
lay down their arms and take part in the
normal political processes of the country,
there are ways that could be found to permit
them to do so — that is, for political partici-
pation, things of that sort. I don't know — I
don't recall — ^that you and Malaya made
special arrangements for the insurgents
there to have a political role when you
moved into a period when you could have
elections there, but these people can take
part in the politics of the country if they're
willing to. But they bitterly resisted the
elections, the recent elections. Hanoi thus
far has not accepted the notion that the
South Vietnamese people can elect their own
government and themselves decide on what
their attitude is toward the reunification of
the country.

We'd like to see these matters settled by
the people concerned. Now, this can be done
if people lay dovni their arms and adopt
political tactics.

Q. But these are your only terms, and it's
very difficult for people who have been
fighting just simply to lay down their arms
in the presence of a very difficult govern-
ment like Marshal [Nguyen Cao'] Ky's, and
ivith American troops still in the territory.
You'd think they would have guarantees
that there tvould be political freedom for
them, particularly against the South Viet-

A. Well, this is something that can be
discussed and worked out. As you know,
about 20,000 of these people did come over
officially to Government areas during the
past year. I have no doubt that the present
Government or its successor government will
work out amnesty and arrangements which
would let these people take a part in the
peaceful processes of the country — but that's

FEBRUARY 20, 1967


something that can be discussed at the right

Q. But you have contacts with the NLF
in Algiers, I understand. Did anything come
of this?

A. Well, there have been discussions of
prisoners, but I have little to report on that.

Q. Will you be prepared to negotiate
directly with the Viet Cong or Hanoi, if
both do so?

A. President Johnson said some time ago
that having the views of the Viet Cong
represented would not create an insuperable
obstacle if the problem of aggression were
removed from the picture. Now on that —
excuse me, go ahead.

Q. Sir, do you regard the recent estab-
lishment of headquarters of the Viet Cong
in Hanoi as a sign of their increasing inde-
pendence from Hanoi?

A. No, I don't at all. The leadership of
the Viet Cong in the South is made up of
North Vietnamese generals, men that we
know by name. One of them is a four-star
general who gives the political and the mili-
tary direction to the National Liberation
Front. And we have this on a basis of a
great deal of information, ranging from
captured documents to the testimony of
high-ranking prisoners to other forms of
more esoteric information. So we're not very
much impressed with this alleged difference
between the Liberation Front and Hanoi,
quite frankly.

Q. / did see a report of a fairly senior
Viet Cong officer in the South ivho, being
interrogated, said they had very little com-
munication with Hanoi, which seemed to
suggest to us some independence.

A. No, they have a great deal of com-
munication with Hanoi, I assure you.

Q. Could you say .whether the changes
that have been taking place rather obscurely
in China over the last few weeks have made
any greater likelihood of peaceable change?

A. It's very hard to assess that. We are

well aware that what is happening in China
is of the greatest importance. Quite frankly,
we don't quite fully understand its signifi-
cance. Ignorance on this doesn't embarrass
us particularly, because we suspect that Mr.
Ho Chi Minh doesn't fully understand what
is going on there and Mao Tse-tung doesn't
fully understand. It may be that the events
in China may give Hanoi somewhat more
freedom of action than they might have felt
they had a little earlier. And so we're explor-
ing the possibilities here to find out whether
or not that is possibly the case, but we just
don't know yet.

Q. So it's not your contention that Ho Chi
Minh takes orders from Peking?

A. Not necessarily, no, no. He is strongly
influenced by Peking and has been for some
time; and we think that perhaps, on balance,
the influence of Moscow in Hanoi has been
somewhat less than that of Peking — but
these are matters that change from month
to month.

Q. But in this situation, where there is a
possibility that the events in Peking could
have a positive effect, or likely to bring the
tvar to an end, isn't this an added incentive
for ending the bombing — just trying it out?

A. No, we need to know what will hap-
pen — we need to know what will happen. It
isn't — when you look back at the other crises
that we've all faced since 1945, it is not
beyond the reach of diplomacy, or private
channels or otherwise, to find out these
things in advance and not just rely upon
hope. Most of the crises in this postwar
period have been brought to conclusion by
very discreet private contacts in which the
two sides would know approximately what
would happen if the matter moved toward a
peaceful conclusion, and that is not beyond
the possibilities here.

Basis for Peace Settlement

Q. Are you satisfied that the other side
knows precisely what the United States
wants in a peace settlement?

A. I think so. We, over and over again.



have made essential points public — the 14
points that we put out at the beginning of
1966 have been developed somewhat further
in detail during the year.^ But basically it is
that we accept the Geneva agreements of
1954 and 1962 as a basis for peace in South-
east Asia; that we let the South Vietnamese
make up their own minds about their own
government and about the question of re-
unification; that we're prepared to enter into
any kind of discussions, conferences, formal
negotiations, private contacts, on the total
problem or any part of it; and that if there
can be peace, we would be glad to partici-
pate in a very far-reaching development pro-
gram for all of Southeast Asia in which
North Viet-Nam can participate.

Now, we're prepared to take up the entire
problem or any part of it. For example, we'd
like to see the Geneva machinery give some
aid and assistance to Prince Sihanouk
[Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Chief of State
of Cambodia] , who has been asking for help
in keeping his own country neutral and un-
involved in this struggle. The other side
won't accept that. We would like to see the
demilitarized zone between North and South
Viet-Nam demilitarized. The other side won't
do that. We'd like to have an exchange of
prisoners — no interest. We'd like to see 1,000
percent compliance with the Laos agreement
of 1962 — no interest.

You see, one must not forget that we were
very bitterly disappointed that the Laos
agreement proved to be so futile. We went
to that conference — you and the Russians
were cochairmen of that conference. We ac-
cepted the man who was, in effect, the Soviet
nominee as Prime Minister at that time,
Prince Souvanna Phouma. We accepted the
coalition government that had been worked
out by discussions among the three factions,
so-called, in Laos. What was the result?
North Viet-Nam did not withdraw their
forces from Laos. They did not stop using
Laos as an infiltration route to the South.
The coalition government was not permitted
to function in the Pathet Lao-held areas of

' See p. 284.

Laos, and the ICC [International Control
Commission] was not permitted to function
in those areas.

Now, we had thought at the time that that
agreement could represent a major step to-
ward peace in Southeast Asia, and we are
very disappointed that this did not have that
result. It called for neutralization of Laos.
Laos has not been permitted to be neutral.

Q. But there isn't a full-scale war in Laos,
is there ?

A. North Viet-Nam's major effort now is
against Viet-Nam, but they still have thou-
sands of their troops in Laos and have never
pulled them out of there; and they're still
using Laos, despite the precise requirements
of the Laos agreement, for infiltration into
South Viet-Nam.

Q. In those lU points you've just men-
tioned, Mr. Rusk, are you now prepared to
include the NLF as a full negotiating .party?

A. We have said these 14 points include
President Johnson's statement on that sub-
ject, which cast it in terms of not being an
insuperable obstacle. Quite frankly, I'll be
prepared to discuss that with someone who
can end the shooting; I don't see much point
in negotiating that point with you, because
you can't stop the shooting. But it's perfectly
— it's been made known that we're prepared
to discuss that problem with the other side.

Q. Would you settle for a neutralist South
Viet-Nam government?

A. Well we have said in our 14 points
that as far as we are concerned, the nations
of Southeast Asia can be neutral or non-
alined if that is their desire; and as a matter
of fact, as you know. South Viet-Nam was
a protocol state to the Southeast Asia Treaty
Organization rather than a signatory, be-
cause they were in a position of neutrality
under those arrangements. We're prepared
to see Southeast Asia neutral if that is what
they want to be. What we would like to
know is whether those in the North — Hanoi,
Peking, the rest of them — would permit
Southeast Asia to be neutral.

Q. Mr. Rusk, John F. Kennedy said in

FEBRUARY 20, 1967


1951 — I'll read his exact words, this sen-
tence: "Without the support of the native
population there is no hope of success in any
of the countries of Southeast Asia." Can you
really say that you have that support ?

A. Oh, I think there's no question that
the general population in South Viet-Nam
does not want what Hanoi's trying to do to
them. They are still carrying the main bur-
den of the war in terms of casualties and
in terms of military operations. Press at-
tention has tended to focus more upon the
Americans and what we do out there, be-
cause American reporters concentrate on
American forces quite naturally. But on any
given day, two-thirds of the operations of
battalion size or larger would be conducted
by the South Vietnamese. Their casualties
are larger than ours.

But more important than that, we have
Americans scattered all through the country-
side doing a great variety of jobs in ones
and fours and fives and tens, outside of
regular military formations. We have not
had instances of treachery on the part of
the South Vietnamese among whom these
people are living. Now the Viet Cong some-
times come in and raid, but if there were
any serious view among the South Viet-
namese that we and they were not in there
for a common purpose, undoubtedly you'd
have repeated acts of treachery among these
exposed Americans living all over the
countryside. It just doesn't occur.

But in any event, on all of these questions,
we're prepared to let the South Vietnamese
make the decisions. We made it very clear
that as far as we're concerned, we're not in-
terested in bases in Southeast Asia, we're
not interested in keeping our forces there
after peace is achieved; we've said that we'll
bring them out within 6 months after a
peace is achieved, that we'll put in a time-
table if the other side will put in a time-
table. We want to know what's going to hap-
pen to those 20 regiments of the North
Vietnamese regular forces in South Viet-


Q. But do you contend, Mr. Busk, that it
is only the North Vietnamese regiments
that's keeping the revolution in South Viet-
Nam on the present scale?

A. It was only the movement of men and ^
arms from North Viet-Nam that brought
American combat forces into South Viet-
Nam. Now, I believe, myself, that if North
Viet-Nam really pulls out of this situation,
takes their troops back home, makes it clear
that they're not going to persist in what they
publicly announced in 1960 that they were
going to do, namely, go after South Viet-
Nam by force, the South Vietnamese would
sort out their own affairs very quickly after

Continued North Vietnamese Infiltration

Q. Why weren't you able to terminate the
war before North Viet-Nam intervened in
the first place — if what you say is correct?

A. Well, I didn't have much of a chance
to do that, because when I became Secretary
of State they were already intervening. They
began sending men and arms into South
Viet-Nam, 1959, 1960 — publicly indicated in
1960 that they were going to do so, and that
infiltration has steadily been building up all

We went to the Geneva conference on Laos
in 1962 determined to get an agreement that
would provide for a neutral Laos. You see,
President Kennedy and Chainnan Khru-
shchev had agreed in Vienna in June 1961
that the solution to Laos ought to be that
everyone get out of Laos— everyone — and
leave these 2 million landlocked people to
manage, or mismanage, their own affairs
and that under those circumstances they
would be a threat to no one else.

So we thought that a Laos agreement,
genuinely accepted by all sides and with full
performance on all sides, would be a major
step toward peace in Southeast Asia and
could affect also peace in Viet-Nam. We were
disappointed in that, and the infiltration has


Q. But can you seriously maintain that a
tiny country like Viet-Nam could hold at
bay the entire armed forces of the United
States, the most powerful power in history,
if those local forces in Viet-Nam did not have
very considerable stipport?

A. Well, you had, what? — ^troop superior-
ity of 10 to 1 in Malaya, and it took about
7 years for it. The guerrilla problem is a
very difficult one with which to deal, because
you cannot really bring your power fully to
bear on people you can't find, and so if s — it
tends to be — a long-drawn-out, difficult

Q. You have little more than parity at
the moment. Does that mean you have to
increase your troops to a minimum of —

A. No, no, because I think the combina-
tions of greater mobility than you had in
Malaya, for example, a greater firepower,
such factors as that, reduce that requirement
very considerably.

Influence of Peking and Moscow in Hanoi

Q. May I change the subject for a mo-
ment: What do you think Russia wants to
come out of this situation ? She surely doesn't
want Hanoi and China to win; because if
she did, she would lose her infkience in
Southeast Asia and perhaps be forced to be-
come more aggressive in other parts of the
world, and she doesn't want to do it.

A. You may remember that the Warsaw
Pact countries had a meeting in Bucharest
last year, I think in July. In their commu-
nique, after saying some very rude things
about us in Viet-Nam, they did say that
they wanted us to comply completely with
the Geneva agreements of 1954 and 1962.
Our reply was: All right, we agree, let's get
started. It is my impression that the coun-
tries of Eastern Europe are prepared to see
peace in Southeast Asia on the basis of the
1954 and 1962 agreements.

But one of the problems is that it's very
hard to get something started, to get a po-
litical process started, to come to that result.

This is partly, I suspect, because Peking has
been attacking Moscow almost every day for
being in some conspiracy with United States
to betray Hanoi — I must say from our point
of view we see no evidence of that conspiracy
— also because Moscow does not have de-
cisive influence in Hanoi.

My own guess is that one of the reasons
that the Laos agreement proved ineffective
was that Moscow, as well as the rest of us,
had no effective influence in Hanoi to insist
upon Hanoi's compliance with the 1962
agreement. I'm inclined to think that the
Soviet Union signed that agreement in good
faith in 1962; so there are some complica-
tions on their side, as well as on ours.

We've been trying to find any possible way
to get something started, however small it
might be, whether it's through the ICC or
the two cochairmen or otherwise, in order to
begin a process that might lead into a serious
discussion of peace throughout Southeast
Asia generally.

Q. Mr. Rusk, one of the things that seems
to be apparent is that you don't have a hot
line to either Peking or to Hanoi. Some of us
the other day met some of the religious
leaders who had come back from Hanoi
reporting unofficially an invitation to Presi-
dent Johnson to go there. If an official
invitation could in any way be maneuvered
out of Hanoi, as Secretary of State do you
think you would advise the President to go
to Hanoi on some conditions? Would it be
worthivhile to try that way of achieving some
settlement ?

A. We don't anticipate such an invitation.
The one to which you refer apparently sup-
posed that we would withdraw from South
Viet-Nam first. I would not think that that
would be the better way to establish contact.
As a matter of fact, I've said many times
that there has never been a problem arising
out of lack of contact with the other side. We
have had more discussions of more serious
matters with Peking than anyone who has
diplomatic relations with them, with the pos-
sible exception of the Soviet Union. We had

FEBRUARY 20, 1967


our 132d talk with them in Warsaw the
other day. There has never been a problem of
contact with the other side. The problem is
that, with contact, we don't see a desire for

Moderator: Well, Mr. Rusk, we've "put an
awful lot of questions to you, and you've
given its a very large number of answers. I
think on behalf of us all, we're really very
grateful to you for coming here and submit-
ting to this inquisition today.

A. Well, thank you very much, gentlemen.
I've enjoyed seeing you very much and hope
you have a pleasant journey home.

Moderator: Thank you very much indeed.

Fourteen Points for Peace
in Southeast Asia

Secretary Ru^k on January 27 approved
the release of the following elaboration of the
Fourteen Points for Peace in Southeast Asia,
which were previously made public by the De-
partment of State on January 7, 1966 >

1. The Geneva Agreements of 1954 and
1962 are an adequate basis for peace in
Southeast Asia.

2. We would welcome a conference on
Southeast Asia or any part thereof:

— We are ready to negotiate a settlement
based on a strict observance of the 1954
and 1962 Geneva Agreements, which ob-
servance was called for in the declaration
on Viet-Nam of the meeting of the Warsaw
Pact countries in Bucharest on July 6,
1966. And we will support a reconvening
of the Geneva Conference, or an Asian
conference, or any other generally accept-
able forum.

3. We would welcome "negotiations with-
out preconditions" as called for by 17 non-
alined nations in an appeal delivered to Sec-
retary Rusk on April 1, 1965.^

4. We would welcome "unconditional dis-
cussions" as called for by President Johnson
on April 7, 1965: «


— If the other side will not come to a
conference, we are prepared to engage in
direct discussions or discussions through
an intermediary.

5. A cessation of hostilities could be the ""
first order of business at a conference or
could be the subject of preliminary discus-

— We have attempted, many times, to en-
gage the other side in a discussion of a
mutual deescalation of the level of violence,
and we remain prepared to engage in such
a mutual deescalation.

— We stand ready to cooperate fully in
getting discussions which could lead to a
cessation of hostilities started promptly
and brought to a successful completion.

6. Hanoi's four points could be discussed
along with other points which others may
wish to propose:

— We would be prepared to accept pre-
liminary discussions to reach agreement on
a set of points as a basis for negotiations.

7. We want no U.S. bases in Southeast

— We are prepared to assist in the con-
version of these bases for peaceful uses that
will benefit the peoples of the entire area.

8. We do not desire to retain U.S. troops
in South Viet-Nam after peace is assured:

— We seek no permanent military bases,
no permanent establishment of troops, no
permanent alliances, no permanent Amer-
ican "presence" of any kind in South Viet-

— We have pledged in the Manila Com-
munique * that "Allied forces are in the Re-
public of Vietnam because that country is
the object of aggression and its govern-
ment requested support in the resistance of
its people to aggression. They shall be with-
drawn, after close consultation, as the other

' Bulletin of Feb. 14, 1966, p. 225.
' For texts of the 17-nation appeal and the U.S.
reply, see ihii,., Apr. 26, 1965, p. 610.
» Ibid., p. 606.
♦ For text, see ihii., Nov. 14, 1966, p. 730.


side withdraws its forces to the North,
ceases infiltration, and the level of violence
thus subsides. Those forces will be with-
drawn as soon as possible and not later
than six months after the above conditions
have been fulfilled."

9. We support free elections in South Viet-
Nam to give the South Vietnamese a govern-
ment of their own choice:

— We support the development of
broadly based democratic institutions in
South Viet-Nam.

— We do not seek to exclude any segment
of the South Vietnamese people from
peaceful participation in their country's

10. The question of reunification of Viet-
Nam should be determined by the Vietnamese
through their own free decision:

Online LibraryUnited States. Dept. of State. Office of Public CoDepartment of State bulletin (Volume v. 56, Jan- Mar 1967) → online text (page 51 of 90)