"Now we turned when we found that the South Vietnamese haven't given the support and are not making the effort. Now we are saying we are going to fight there so we don't have to fight in Thailand, so we don't have to fight on the west coast of the United States, so they won't move across the Rockies. ...
I mean, do we have the right here in the United States to say that we are going to kill tens of thousands, make millions of people, as we have millions of people refugees, kill women and children as we have?
There is thirty-five thousand people without limbs in South Vietnam, a hundred and fifty thousand civilian casualties every year. Thousands of children are killed because of our efforts.
Do we have that right, here in the United States, to perform these acts, because we want to protect ourselves so it is not a greater problem for us in the United States?
I very seriously question whether we have that right. And I think other people are fighting it, other people are carrying the burden. But this is also our war. Those of us who stay here in the United States. We must feel it when we use Napalm and when a village is destroyed and civilians are killed. This is also our responsibility.
This is a moral obligation and a moral responsibility for us here in the United States. And I think we have forgotten about that. And when we switched from one point of view to another, I think we have forgotten about that. And I think it should be discussed and all of us should examine our own conscience of what we are doing in South Vietnam. It's not just the fact that we're killing North Vietnamese soldiers of Viet Cong, we are also responsible for tens and tens of thousands of innocent civilian casualties, and I think we are going to have a difficult time explaining this to ourselves."
Robert F. Kennedy, Television Interview On Vietnam War, June 17, 1967.
LBJ: "I shudder at getting too deeply involved there and everybody thinks that's the only alternative."
Adlai Stevenson: "Well, I've been shuddering on this thing for three years, and I'm afraid we're in a position now where you don't have any alternative, and it's a hell of an alternative and it fairly gives me the shakes and that, I don't know, he was going to give me all the up-to-date plans.
May 27, 1964.
Johnson: I will tell you the more, I just stayed awake last night thinking of this thing, and the more that I think of it I don't know what in the hell, it looks like to me that we're getting into another Korea. It just worries the hell out of me. I don't see what we can ever hope to get out of there with once we're committed. I believe the Chinese Communists are coming into it. I don't think that we can fight them 10,000 miles away from home and ever get anywhere in that area. I don't think it's worth fighting for and I don't think we can get out. And it's just the biggest damn mess that I ever saw.
Bundy: It is an awful mess.
Johnson: And we just got to think about it. I'm looking at this Sergeant of mine this morning and he's got 6 little old kids over there, and he's getting out my things, and bringing me in my night reading, and all that kind of stuff, and I just thought about ordering all those kids in there. And what in the hell am I ordering them out there for? What in the hell is Vietnam worth to me? What is Laos worth to me? What is it worth to this country? We've got a treaty but hell, everybody else has got a treaty out there, and they're not doing a thing about it.
Bundy: Yeah, yeah.
Johnson: Of course, if you start running from the Communists, they may just chase you right into your own kitchen.
Bundy: Yeah, that's the trouble. And that is what the rest of that half of the world is going to think if this thing comes apart on us. That's the dilemma, that's exactly the dilemma.
Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and the President's Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (McGeorge Bundy). Washington, May 27, 1964, 11:24 a.m.
"The time has come for America to hear the truth about this tragic war. In international conflicts, the truth is hard to come by because most nations are deceived about themselves. Rationalizations and the incessant search for scapegoats are the psychological cataracts that blind us to our sins. But the day has passed for superficial patriotism. He who lives with untruth lives in spiritual slavery. Freedom is still the bonus we receive for knowing the truth. "Ye shall know the truth," says Jesus, "and the truth shall set you free." Now, I've chosen to preach about the war in Vietnam because I agree with Dante, that the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality. There comes a time when silence becomes betrayal."
Martin Luther King, "Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam" speech, April 30, 1967, Riverside Church, New York.
"I have, therefore, chosen this time and place to discuss a topic on which ignorance too often abounds and the truth too rarely perceived -- and that is the most important topic on earth: peace.
What kind of peace do I mean and what kind of a peace do we seek? Not a Pax Americana enforced on the world by American weapons of war, not the peace of the grave or the security of the slave. I am talking about genuine peace -- the kind of peace that makes life on earth worth living -- and the kind that enables men and nations to grow and to hope and build a better life for their children -- not merely peace for Americans but peace for all men and women -- not merely peace in our time but peace in all time...
I speak of peace, therefore, as the necessary rational end of rational men. I realize the pursuit of peace is not as dramatic as the pursuit of war -- and frequently the words of the pursuers fall on deaf ears. But we have no more urgent task...
No government or social system is so evil that its people must be considered as lacking in virtue...
Our military forces are committed to peace and disciplined in self-restraint. Our diplomats are instructed to avoid unnecessary irritants and purely rhetorical hostility.
For we can seek a relaxation of tensions without relaxing our guard. And for our part, we do not need to use threats to prove we are resolute...
Meanwhile, we seek to strengthen the United Nations, to help solve its financial problems, to make it a more effective instrument for peace, to develop it into a genuine world security system -- a system capable of resolving disputes on the basis of law, of insuring the security of the large and the small, and of creating conditions under which arms can finally be abolished...
The United States, as the world knows, will never start a war. We do not want a war. We do not now expect a war. This generation of Americans has already had enough -- more than enough -- of war and hate and oppression. We shall be prepared if others wish it. We shall be alert to try to stop it. But we shall also do our part to build a world of peace where the weak are safe and the strong are just. We are not helpless before that task or hopeless of its success. Confident and unafraid, we must labor on -- not towards a strategy of annihilation but towards a strategy of peace."
John F. Kennedy, June 10, 1963, American University Speech.
LBJ: "Now, I don't want to have information that ought to be public and not make it so. At the--on the other hand, we have a lot of--I don't know how much we can do there and I know we'll be charged with trying to interfere with the election. And I think this is something that's going to require the best judgments that we have. I'm rather concerned by this Saville Davis conversation with the Embassy this morning."
Rusk: "Now, which conversation?"
LBJ: "The Christian Science Monitor man called the Embassy this morning and wanted to see the Ambassador and he was unavailable. He told the party answering that he wanted to check out a story received from his correspondent in Saigon; that he planned to come to the Embassy and wait until he could see him; that the dispatch from Saigon contained the elements of a major scandal which involves the Vietnamese Ambassador and which will affect Presidential candidate Nixon if the Monitor publishes it. Time is of the essence inasmuch as Davis has a deadline to meet if he publishes it."
192. Telephone Conversation Among President Johnson, Secretary of Defense Clifford, Secretary of State Rusk, and the President's Special Assistant (Rostow). November 4, 1968, 12:27 p.m.
LBJ: "Now I can identify them because I know who's doing this. I don't want to identify it. I think it would shock America if a principal candidate was playing with a source like this on a matter this important. I don't want to do that. But if they're going to put this kind of stuff out, they ought to know that we know what they're doing. I know who they're talking to and I know what they're saying. And my judgment is that Nixon ought to play it just like he has all along, that I want to see peace come the first day we can, that it's not going to affect the election one way or the other. The conference is not even going to be held until after the election. They have stopped shelling the cities. They have stopped going across the DMZ. We've had 24 hours of relative peace. Now, if Nixon keeps the South Vietnamese away from the conference, well, that's going to be his responsibility. Up to this point, that's why they're not there. I had them signed on board until this happened."
Dirksen: "Yeah, OK."
LBJ: "Well, now, what do you think we ought to do about it?"
Dirksen: "Well, I better get in touch with him, I think, and tell him about it."
LBJ: "I think you better tell him that his people are saying to these folks that they oughtn't to go through with this meeting. Now if they don't go through with the meeting, it's not going to be me that's hurt. I think it's going to be whoever is elected, and may be--my guess--him. And I think they're making a very serious mistake, and I don't want to say this, and you're the only one I'm going to say it to."
LBJ: "I know this--that they're contacting a foreign power in the middle of a war. "
Dirksen: "That's a mistake."
LBJ: "And it's a damn bad mistake. Now I don't want to say so, and you're the only man I have confidence in to tell them. But you better tell them they better quit playing with it. And the day after the election I'll sit down with all of you and try to work it out and be helpful. But they oughtn't to knock out this conference."
Dirksen: "Whoever they are, I'll try to get ahold of them tonight."
LBJ: "Well, there are two things they ought to do. One is--they ought to stop this business about trying to keep the conference from taking place. It takes place the day after the election. The second thing is--we can all sit down and talk about it after that time. And I'm not a bitter partisan here. You know it."
Dirksen: "I know. Well, I'll try to find them, wherever they are tonight. "
LBJ: "Well, you just tell them their people are messing around in this thing, and if they don't want it on the front pages, they better quit it, number one. Number two, they--we better sit down and talk about it as soon as this thing is over with, and we'll try to work it out. And they ought to tell their people that are contacting these embassies to go on with the conference. "
Dirksen: "Right. "
Dirksen: "I agree."
LBJ: "OK. Bye." "
181. Telephone Conversation Between President Johnson and Senator Everett Dirksen. 9:18 p.m. on November 2, 1968.