Tags: Presidential History | lyndon johnson wartime | highlights | quotes | speech

Lyndon Johnson Wartime Address Highlights: 7 Quotes From Speech

By    |   Friday, 22 May 2015 10:48 AM

Though he didn’t start it and he didn’t end it, Vietnam came to be seen as Lyndon Johnson’s war. The years of fighting, also known as the Second IndoChina War, defined and ended his presidency.

Here are seven highlights from LBJ’s wartime speeches:

1. In his 1964 State of the Union Address, Johnson invoked American soldiers in his call for civil rights and equality: “Today, Americans of all races stand side by side in Berlin and in Vietnam. They died side by side in Korea. Surely they can work and eat and travel side by side in their own country.” – State of the Union Address, Jan. 8, 1964

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2. He went on to call for effective military preparedness while controlling costs: “First, we must maintain – and our reduced defense budget will maintain – that margin of military safety and superiority obtained through 3 years of steadily increasing both the quality and the quantity of our strategic, our conventional, and our anti-guerilla forces.

“Second, we must take new steps – and we shall make new proposals at Geneva – toward the control and the eventual abolition of (nuclear) arms. Even in the absence of agreement, we must not stockpile arms beyond our needs or seek an excess of military power that could be provocative as well as wasteful.”

3. He summed up his views on military preparedness and diplomacy thusly:
“We must be strong enough to win any war, and we must be wise enough to prevent one.”

4. Ultimately, going into Vietnam was about U.S. national security, Johnson told the National Legislative Conference in 1967:
“Every American President has finally had to answer this question:

‘Is the aggression a threat – not only to the immediate victim – but to the United States of America and to the peace and security of the entire world of which we in America are a very vital part?’”

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5. However, he went on, he was ready to stop bombing any time the North Vietnamese were ready to start talking: “As we have told Hanoi time and time and time again, the heart of the matter is really this: The United States is willing to stop all aerial and naval bombardment of North Vietnam when this will lead promptly to productive discussions. ...

“So it is by Hanoi's choice — and not ours, and not the rest of the world's -- that the war continues.”

6. With the Tet Offensive — a military failure but a political victory for the North – fresh in memory, Johnson tried to sound a note of determined optimism in March 1968:
“This much is clear: If (the North Vietnamese) do mount another round of heavy attacks, they will not succeed .... But tragically, this is also clear: Many men -- on both sides of the struggle — will be lost. A nation that has already suffered 20 years of warfare will suffer once again. Armies on both sides will take new casualties. And the war will go on ... There is no need for this to be so.” – Television address, March 31, 1968

7. But then LBJ dropped his own bombshell: “With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office — the Presidency of your country ... Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.”

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Though he didn't start it and he didn't end it, Vietnam came to be seen as Lyndon Johnson's war. The years of fighting, also known as the Second IndoChina War, defined and ended his presidency.
lyndon johnson wartime, highlights, quotes, speech
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2015-48-22
Friday, 22 May 2015 10:48 AM
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