Commitments of United States in Asia
Manila Conference and the War in Viet Nam
President johnson's spectacular 17-day Asian-Pacific tour underscored the growing U. S. commitment to defend friendly nations in that region from aggression and help promote the region's economic development. The importance of the relationship between the United States and free nations of the Far East was suggested by the communique issued on Oct. 25 after the two-day meeting at Manila of the President and leaders of six allied countries—Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, South Korea, South Viet Nam, Thailand. The seven nations agreed on four major objectives: (1) to be free from aggression; (2) to conquer hunger, illiteracy and disease; (3) to build a region of security, order and progress; and (4) to seek reconciliation and peace throughout Asia and the Pacific. It has been noted that only the United States, among the seven nations, has the resources needed to bring about substantial progress toward attainment of those goals.
The clear intent of President Johnson to expand American involvement across the Pacific has come to the surface at a time when doubts are being raised in the Congress and elsewhere about the ability of the United States to meet all of its global responsibilities. Chairman John Stennis (D Miss.) of the Senate Armed Services Preparedness Investigating Subcommittee opened hearings on this question last Aug. 25. Stennis expressed concern over the fact that “a small and undeveloped country such as North Viet Nam has been able to tie us down and require a very substantial commitment of our military manpower and resources over many months.” Some 400,000 American troops are expected to be stationed in South Viet Nam by January 1967, and the special costs of that limited war are expected to reach at least $2 billion a month by that time.
Secretary of State Dean Rusk told the Stennis subcommittee, Aug. 25, that the United States was committed by 42 treaties “to take appropriate action at the request of an ally that is victim of aggression.” Noting that the treaties permitted “great flexibility in choosing the means by which we would assist other countries in their defense,” Rusk added that “We could not expect that we would be regarded as fulfilling our obligation through the provision of minimum assistance.” And he warned that no would-be aggressor should suppose that the absence of a defense treaty, a congressional declaration, or an American military presence constituted a grant of immunity for attack on another country.