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gram peacefully along with other elements
and groupings in the South in a free political

We have already made it clear that we do
not wish to exclude any segment of the South
Vietnamese people from peaceful participa-
tion in their country's future and that we
support a policy of national reconciliation
endorsed by the South Vietnamese Govern-
ment in the Manila communique. Indeed, as
Secretary Rusk said in an interview last
week,* if the Viet Cong were to lay down
their arms, ways could be found to permit
them to take part in the normal political
processes in South Viet- Nam.

Further ambiguities arise concerning the
question of foreign troops in South Viet-Nam.
What does Hanoi mean by "foreign troops"?
They clearly include in this term the forces
of the United States and other countries aid-
ing the South, but they have never admitted
the presence of their own forces in the South.
Of course, a one-sided withdrawal by our side
would not lead to an acceptable peace. All
external forces must withdraw, those of
Hanoi as well as ours, if peace is to be

There is ambiguity also in Hanoi's position
on the timing of the withdrawal of external
forces. Do our adversaries consider with-
drawal of forces as a precondition to negotia-
tions, as some of their statements imply? If
so, this again would raise a serious obstacle
to progress. But if they look on withdrawal
of forces as a provision to be incorporated in
a settlement, this clearly could be worked out.
The United States and its allies are already
on record in the Manila communique that
their forces "shall be withdrawn ... as the
other 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." Further, we have indicated
our willingness to join in a phased and super-
vised withdrawal of forces by both sides.

Next, there is ambiguity in Hanoi's posi-
tion on the cessation of bombing of North
Viet-Nam. At times their public statements
have demanded that the bombing be ended
unconditionally, without any reference to a
possible response from their side. On the
other hand, quite recently a spokesman of
Hanoi said that "if, after the definitive and
unconditional cessation of the bombardments,
the American Government proposes to enter
into contact with the [North Vietnamese]
Government, . . . this proposal will be ex-
amined and studied." And just this week we
have seen a further statement, in an inter-
view by the North Vietnamese Foreign
Minister, that cessation of the bombings
"could lead to talks between North Viet Nam
and the U.S." Many of their statements in-
sisting that the bombing cease have also
contained other expressions, such as that the
American military presence in South Viet-
Nam be completely withdrawn and that the
four points of Hanoi must be recognized and
accepted as "the" basis — or possibly as "a"
basis — for settlement of the conflict. This
creates an additional ambiguity as to whether
Hanoi means to add still other prenegotiat-
ing conditions.

The position of the United States on this
bombing question has been stated by a num-
ber of administration spokesmen, including
me at the United Nations. The United States
remains prepared to take the first step and
order a cessation of all bombing of North
Viet-Nam the moment we are assured,
privately or otherwise, that this step will be
answered promptly by a tangible response
toward peace from North Viet-Nam. In his
letter of February 8 to His Holiness Pope
Paul, President Johnson said: ''

... I know you would not expect us to reduce
military action unless the other side is willing to
do likewise.

We are prepared to discuss the balanced reduction
in military activity, the cessation of hostilities, or
any practical arrangements which could lead to
these results.

' Bulletin of Feb. 20, 1967, p. 274.

' See p. 319.

FEBRUARY 27, 1967


We shall continue our efforts for a peaceful and
honorable settlement until they are crowned with

U.S. Ready To Negotiate in Good Faith

Some analysts contend that our terms of
settlement should be more precisely defined.
But it is very difficult to be more precise in
advance of negotiation and particularly in
light of the substantive ambiguities on the
other side. But whatever questions may be
raised, they should and can best be resolved
in discussions between the parties who have
the power to resolve them. For our part, we
stand ready to negotiate in good faith uncon-
ditionally to resolve all outstanding questions.

The United States approach to negotiations
is flexible. We and our allies do not ask our
adversaries to accept, as a precondition to
discussions or negotiations, any point of ours
to which they may have objections. Nor do
we rule out the discussion of any points of
theirs, however difficult they might appear to
us. We are willing to discuss and negotiate
not only our own points but Hanoi's four
points, and points emanating from any other
source, including the Secretary-General of
the United Nations.

It remains to be seen whether our adver-
saries share this concept of negotiations. As
I have already pointed out, their various pub-
lic declarations of peace aims have often been
coupled with statements that the goals they
put forward must, for example, be "accepted"
or "recognized" as the "sole basis" or "the
most correct basis" or "the only sound basis"
or "the basis for the most correct political

Such statements contain still further
ambiguity — in one sense the most funda-
mental of all, since it relates to the concept of
negotiation itself. Do these statements mean
that Hanoi is willing to enter negotiations
only if there is an assurance in advance that
the outcome wiW be on their terms and will,
in effect, simply ratify the goals they have
already stated? Such an attitude would not
be conducive to peace and would make the
outlook for a settlement bleak indeed.

If, on the other hand. North Viet-Nam
were to say that their points are not precon-
ditions to discussions or negotiations, then
the prospects should be more promising.

Our negotiating approach would permit s,
each side to seek clarification of the other
side's position. It does not require the
acceptance in advance of any points, least of
all those whose meaning may be in need of
clarification. We do not ask that of Hanoi —
and progress toward a settlement will be
facilitated if Hanoi does not ask it of us.

In this situation, how can we best move
toward a settlement ?

One essential early step is to analyze the
positions of all parties in order to ascertain
whether there is some element or some
kernel common to all. Many students of the
subject have pointed to one fact which may
prove to be such a kernel, namely, the fact
that both sides have pointed to the Geneva
agreements of 1954 and 1962 as an acceptable
basis for a peaceful settlement.

But I must add quickly that this does not
necessarily indicate a real meeting of the
minds, because of doubts that all sides inter-
pret the Geneva agreements in the same light.
Hanoi has said that the essence of the Geneva
agreements is contained in its four points.
But the four points would not put Hanoi
under any restraint or obligations in its
hostile activities against the South, which the
Geneva accords explicitly prohibit. Besides,
as I already pointed out, these points insist
that the South's future be regulated in ac-
cordance with the program of a group which
was not referred to in the Geneva accords
and did not even exist when they were writ-
ten. And in any case, if the Geneva accords
were to serve as a basis for settlement, it
would obviously be necessary to revitalize
the international machinery which they pro-
vided for supervision, which is presently
operating under severe limitations; to in-
corporate effective international guarantees;
and to update other provisions of the ac-
cords which on their face are clearly out of

Despite these problems of interpretation.



it can be said that if the meaning of the
Geneva agreements were accepted as a mat-
ter for genuine negotiation, then the constant
reference to these agreements by both sides
would be more than a verbal similarity; it
would be a significant and hopeful sign of
the prospects for settlement.

Methods for Seeking a Political Settlement

From all this analysis, there emerges one
basic and practical question, and it is this:
How are all these apparent obstacles to a
settlement to be overcome ?

The first and essential prerequisite is the
will to resolve them, not by unconditional
surrender or by the dictation of terms but
through a process of mutual accommodation
whereby nobody's vital interests are injured,
which would be a political solution. Speaking
for the United States Government, I affirm
without reservation the willingness of the
United States to seek and find a political

The next question, then, is by what proce-
dure such a political settlement can be
reached. One well-tested and time-proven
way is the conference table. President John-
son has repeatedly stated our readiness to
join in a conference in Geneva, in Asia, or in
any other suitable place. We remain prepared
today to go to the conference table as soon as,
and wherever, our adversaries are prepared
to join us.

There is also a second procedure by which
to pursue a political settlement: namely,
private negotiations — either by direct contact
or through an intermediary. There is much
to be said for this private method, for in a
situation as grave as this, with its complex
historical background and its present politi-
cal crosscurrents, it would be exceedingly dif-
ficult to negotiate in a goldfish bowl.

I therefore affirm that the United States
Government stands ready to take this route
also toward a political settlement. And we
give our assurance that the secrecy and
security of such private explorations would
be safeguarded on our side. Of course, we do

not and should not ask that freedom of ex-
pi-ession be curtailed in the slightest degree.
Nevertheless, as that conspicuous champion
of free expression. Dr. Erwin D. Canham,
recently reminded us, no one's credibility
ought to suffer because of what is better left
unsaid under such circumstances.

Let me quickly add that at this juncture
I do not want to raise any false hopes by this
remark. I am simply stating a principle which
is inherent in the concept of the secrecy and
security of private explorations.

Such then is my analysis of the problems
involved and the methods to be employed in
seeking a negotiated solution of the Vietnam-
ese conflict. Nor should we overlook the pos-
sibility that negotiations, private or public,
might be preceded or facilitated by the
process of mutual deescalation or a scaling
down of the conflict without a formally
negotiated cease-fire. This, of course, would
be welcome on our part.

It is altogether possible, too, that there will
be no negotiations culminating in a formal
agreement, that our adversaries will sooner
or later find the burden of the war too ex-
hausting and that the conflict will gradually
come to an end.

Perhaps this will, indeed, prove to be the
outcome. But our most respected military
authorities have cautioned us not to expect
that this will happen quickly and that we
must face the possibility of a long struggle.
Surely, if there is any contribution that
diplomacy can make to hastening a just and
honorable end of this struggle, we cannot in
all conscience spare any effort or any labor,
day or night, to make that contribution — no
matter how difficult and frustrating the
effort may be or how many false starts and
failures and new beginnings it may entail.
As students of history know, one obstacle
to a negotiated end of any war can be psycho-
logical. The frame of mind appropriate to
fighting and the frame of mind appropriate
to peacemaking are by nature very different.
And yet a stage inevitably comes when both
these seemingly contradictory efforts must
go on side by side.

FEBRUARY 27, 1967


Many citizens, viewing this complex dual
process, are likely to be confused and dis-
tressed by what seems like an inconsistency
in their leaders' policies. Some complain that
the talk of peace suggests a weakening of our
resolve and of our will to win. Simultaneously
others complain that the continued military
effort suggests an attempt to bring the ad-
versary to his knees, to break his will, and
thus casts doubt on the sincerity of our will
to peace.

The great difficulty of achieving peace
should serve to remind us that there are sub-
stantial conflicting interests at stake which
stubbornly resist solution; that peace cannot
be bought at any price, nor can real conflicts
of purpose be waved away with a magic
wand. By the same token, the ferocity of war
should not be an incitement to hatred but
rather a stern discipline, a reminder of the
imperative duty to define responsibly the lim-
ited interests for which our soldiers fight and
which a peace settlement must protect.

The effort to make such a responsible defi-
nition and to carry it through the process of
peace negotiations is piled high with diffi-
culty. A genuine meeting of the minds may
never be wholly achieved. It is unlikely that
terms of settlement for this stubborn conflict
can be found which would be wholly pleasing
to either side. But it is in our highest national
interest that an acceptable, livable solution
should be found.

Let no one suppose that patriotism, which
is so inspiringly displayed on the battlefield,
is not also present at the negotiating table.
All our recent Presidents have testified to our
country's dedication to negotiation as a means
of peacefully bridging differences.

President Eisenhower said in 1955, on the
eve of the first summit conference with the
Soviet leadership: * "We shall work with all
others ... so that peaceful and reasonable
negotiations may replace the clash of the

President Kennedy, in his inaugural
address, said: "Let us never negotiate out of
fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

And President Johnson has summed up the
true value of negotiation as follows : ^

To negotiate is never to admit failure. To nego-
tiate is to show good sense. We believe that collec-
tive bargaining is working as long as parties stay
in the negotiation stage. Only when bargaining
breaks off do we speak of failure.

And so also is it in foreign policy. There, too,
the rule of law and the resort to the bargaining
table are the hallmarks of success.

And to these words the President added

. . . this rule applies without qualification to Viet-
Nam. We shall count it a mark of success when all
the parties to that dispute come to a conference
table. We Americans are experienced in bargaining;
we have nothing to fear from negotiation. And we
Americans know the nature of a fair bargain. No
people ever need fear negotiating with Americans.

I am sure all three of these Presidents
would agree today that the effort to discover
through negotiation the common ground on
which to build a just and honorable peace is
worthy of our most sincere and dedicated

' For an address by President Eisenhower at the
10th anniversary meeting of the United Nations at
San Francisco, Calif., on June 20, 1955, see Bulle-
tin of July 4, 1955, p. 3.

" For an address by President Johnson at the Uni-
versity of Denver on Aug. 26, 1966, see ibid., Sept.
19, 1966, p. 406.



Secretary Rusk's News Conference of February 9

Press release 27 dated February 9

Secretary Rusk: There has been a good deal
of discussion in recent days about the pros-
pects for peace in Viet-Nam. President John-
son has pressed for peace in Southeast Asia
in capitals all over the world over and over
again. He has demonstrated that he is pre-
pared to meet the other side more than half
way. He has urged a conference, uncondi-
tional discussions, or private and discreet
contacts in order to move ahead with talks
which might open the way to peace. He has
responded affirmatively to the efforts of 17
nonalined nations, of the Commonwealth
Prime Ministers, of Asian nations, of the
British cochairman, of members of the Inter-
national Control Commission, of leading per-

The United States has made it clear that
Hanoi's four points could be discussed along
with points which others might wish to pro-
pose or that we would engage in preliminary
discussions to attempt to find an agreed set
of points as a basis for negotiation. We have
made it clear that we want no bases in South-
east Asia and do not wish to retain United
States troops in Viet-Nam after peace is
assured. At Manila, the Allies stated that they
would withdraw their forces not later than 6
months after the other side "withdraws its
forces to the North, ceases infiltration, and
the level of violence thus subsides." ^ We
have affirmed our full support for free elec-
tions in South Viet-Nam to give the South
Vietnamese a government of their own
choice and have stated that we believe that
the question of reunification should be deter-

' For text of a communique issued at the close of
the Manila Conference on Oct. 25, 1966, see Bulletin
of Nov. 14, 1966, p. 730.

mined by the Vietnamese through their own
free decision. We have emphasized that we
would much prefer to use our resources for
the economic reconstruction of Southeast
Asia, rather than war, and that peace could
permit North Viet-Nam to participate in a
regional effort to which we would be pre-
pared to contribute at least $1 billion.

On the military side, we have on two occa-
sions stopped the bombing of North Viet-
Nam to discover whether there might be some
constructive reaction from the other side. In
May 1965 a pause was limited to 51/2 days
because it was rejected by the principal Com-
munist capitals during the first 3 days. At
the beginning of 1966 there was a cessation
for 37 days — a period much longer than had
been indicated might produce some construc-
tive result. It elicited no response other than
the continuation of the movement of men and
arms into the South and an assertion that
Viet-Nam must be settled on Communist
terms. We have emphasized that we would be
prepared to discuss steps of mutual deescala-
tion or would indeed take note of any de-
escalation on the ground and would respond

But for some time now there has been evi-
dent a systematic campaign by the Commu-
nist side to bring about an unconditional and
permanent cessation of the bombing of North
Viet-Nam, without any corresponding mili-
tary action on their side, in exchange for the
possibility of talks — talks which are thus far
formless and without content. We cannot
accept a situation in which men and arms
move, without interruption by us, to cross the
17th parallel and attack Allied armed forces
and Vietnamese civilians in the South. We

FEBRUARY 27, 1967


must know the military consequences of such
a military action on our part. They must not
expect us to stop our military action by bomb-
ing while they continue their military action
by invasion. No one has been able or willing
to give us any information on this subject.

It is entirely within the resources of the
quiet diplomacy of both sides to talk about
peace and to discuss mutual steps to reduce
the violence. We have been trying in every
way known to us to invite and to engage in
such talks. Unfortunately I cannot report to
you today any tangible forward movement in
this direction. All channels remain open and
are being utilized.

As the President said yesterday in his let-
ter to His Holiness the Pope:

We are prepared to talk at any time and place,
in any forum, with the object of bringing peace to
Vietnam; however I know you would not expect
us to reduce military action unless the other side
is willing to do likewise.

We are prepared (the President said) to discuss
the balanced reduction in military activity, the ces-
sation of hostilities, or any practical arrangements
which could lead to these results.

Our objective in Viet-Nam is and always
has been a limited one — a South Viet-Nam
able to determine its own future without
external interference. I need hardly repeat
that this and this alone is our objective; but
for the benefit of members of the press who
may not be fully familiar with all our state-
ments, I am today making available points we
made last year under 14 different headings,
annotated to reflect developments in 1966.^
These are, and remain, not in any sense pre-
conditions for discussions but rather state-
ments of the elements that we believe could
produce peace in Viet-Nam.

Let me say quietly and sincerely to all capi-
tals on the other side:

Let good sense take charge for all of us in
this situation. Recognize the necessity for
elementary reciprocity. Join with us in a com-
mon search for peace. Let us make use of the
means available to us to exchange views and
to search for those common interests upon
which peace can be built. Let us relieve all

^Ibid., Feb. 20, 1967, p. 284.

the peoples concerned of the burdens of this
struggle. Let us turn our hand to the urgent
unfinished business of assuring a more decent
future for those who have been caught up in
this violence for so long.

I am now ready for your questions.

Atmosphere for Peace Negotiations

Q. Mr. Secretary, you mentioned the 14
points that were put out a year ago. Would
you say that the atmosphere or the climate
for peace negotiations has im,proved in any
way since that time, particularly since the
conflict in China has become so intense?

A. It is hard to judge atmosphere, because
what we really must coiint upon is specific,
tangible indications of a readiness to move
toward peace.

We are exploring in every way that we
know what those possibilities might be.

The President has said that we would meet
the other side more than half way.

So what the atmosphere really will amount
to turns upon whether we can in fact engage
the other side at points where we and they
together can move this matter toward the
conference table or toward a peaceful settle-

Q. Mr. Secretary, can you give us some
idea of the rate of infiltration these days? Is
it significantly lower noiv than it was last

A. There is some time lag in our current
information on exact numbers.

We know that the infiltration continues.
We see the trucks moving south; we see the
men moving south. We have other sources of
information. We do get from prisoners, from
captured documents, and from other sources
of information rather accurate figures, after
a bit of time, on what happens in a particular

But I do not know of any information indi-
cating that the infiltration has stopped or that
they have themselves undertaken a level of
infiltration that bears with it political con-

Q. Mr. Secretary, you have talked about
the need to recognize the principle of ele-



mentary reciprocity. Since so much of the
current discussion seems to hang on this, sir,
could you give us some idea of whether by
this yoti mean a specific promise to negotiate
if we stop the bombing or specific military
action ?

A. Well, I have pointed out in my state-
ment that we cannot stop our military actions
involving the bombing while they continue
their military actions of invasion.

Now let me illustrate the question of
reciprocity just for a moment, because that
element has dropped out of a good deal of
public discussion of this subject.

If we were to say that we would not talk
unless all violence stops in the South while
our bombing continues in the North, everyone
would say, "Well, that is absurd."

Now, why is. it absurd for us and reason-
able for the other side ?

We have had no indication that they will
adopt corresponding or reciprocal military
moves if we stop the bombing of North Viet-

We have some operational questions. Those
trucks just north of the 17th parallel headed
south with men and arms — are we to say that
they are free to come to the gates with
impunity, safety, and then suddenly unload
themselves and have those men attack our

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