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U.S. To Boost Effort in Vietnam

Mar. 26, 1964 - The Johnson Administration forcefully rejected today “withdrawal,” “neutralization,” or “peace at any price,” in the war against the Communist insurgency in South Vietnam.

Defense Secretary Robert McNamara (pictured in South Vietnam earlier this month), in an hour-long speech, reaffirmed the plans of the U.S. to accelerate military and economic support for the regime of Maj. Gen. Nguyen Khanh (left). He left open the possibility of direct military action against North Vietnam to curb the supply of arms and military leadership to the Viet Cong guerrillas.

“This course of action — its implications and ways of carrying it out — has been carefully studied,” he said without elaborating.

He drew attention to the Communists’ use of routes through Cambodia and Laos in support of the Viet Cong.

McNamara’s theme throughout was that the U.S. planned to remain in the struggle against a Communist takeover in South Vietnam until an “independent and stable” country there made it safe to withdraw. He spoke at the annual dinner of the National Security Industrial Association at the Sheraton Park Hotel in Washington.

The speech was carefully planned with President Johnson and Secretary of State Dean Rusk at a White House meeting Tuesday. Some officials described it as a Government “Report to the Nation” by McNamara, who returned from a Presidential fact-finding mission to South Vietnam two weeks ago.

Tonight, he warned that a Communist take-over in South Vietnam would place the North Vietnamese regime in control of all Vietnam, and possibly Laos. But this “would be only a first step toward eventual Chinese hegemony,” he said.

Communist China, said McNamara, which “has publicly castigated Moscow for betraying the revolutionary cause whenever the Soviets have sounded a cautionary note,” would regard a victory in South Vietnam “as vindication” of its views “in the world-wide ideological struggle.”

The situation in South Vietnam “has unquestionably worsened, at least since last fall,” the Secretary said, reiterating his recent assessments.

Discussing “neutralization” proposals, he said: “We have learned from the past that the Communists rarely honor the kind of treaty that runs counter 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 take-over.”



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