Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks at the East-West Center in Honolulu

October 18, 1966

Governor Burns, Mrs. Burns, President and Mrs. Hamilton, Chancellor and Mrs. Jones, Congressman Matsunaga, Monsignor Kekumann, my fellow Americans, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a source of deep personal satisfaction for me to be back here with you in Hawaii again today.

Seven years ago, inspired by your present Governor and your former Delegate, John Burns, I called for the first appropriation for this East-West Center, where two great cultures might share with one another their perspective of man's destiny.

Five years ago I came here to dedicate this great center. I have followed it very closely since, even to the point of keeping in touch with a former boss of mine who is now associated with the East-West Center, your deputy chancellor, Mr. Sam Gilstrap. I hope he is more lenient on the faculty members and the students than he was on me 25 years ago.

We know that no opportunities before us today are more crucial or more hopeful than those for expanded ventures in international education.

That is why the Congress, upon my recommendation, has just passed the International Education Act of 1966, to strengthen American universities as centers of international learning.

During this Pacific journey, on friendly Asian soil, I plan, as President of the United States, to sign this act.

In addition, I am directing Secretary John Gardner to begin work immediately to establish a new Center for Educational Cooperation. It will advance the aims of the International Education Act and will serve as a focal point in Washington for leadership in education on a global scale.

I have also asked Secretary Gardner to begin immediately to plan this year for a world conference on education to be held in the year 1967. This gathering of world educators and specialists will take a fresh look at the world's new educational needs. I hope it will help the nations to establish new priorities and new proposals for worldwide cooperative efforts in educating our children.

Dr. James Perkins, the distinguished president of Cornell University, has agreed to work with Secretary Gardner on this most laudable undertaking. He will organize and direct a planning conference early this winter to prepare the agenda and the schedule for the larger meeting to come later. I have asked him to invite a number of the world's leading educators to join him in these preparations.

In our continuing efforts to broaden our intellectual horizons, and to expand our educational frontiers, this still young center of research and study has already begun to play a leading role.

Symbolically, you stand as a bridge--a bridge between the two mainlands on either side of this wide ocean that surrounds all of these islands.

You remind us that our people and the people of Asia have much to give to each other as well as much to learn from each other.

It was not always so.

In centuries past, men of the West went to Asia for many reasons.

Some made the long ocean trek in search of wealth.

Others went as the agents of governments that wanted colonial possessions.

Still others went to teach; to treat the sick; to spread the gospel; to aid the farmer; to help build factories; to advise officials; to translate Western works of literature and technology.

Much that was good and constructive and abiding came from all of these undertakings. But it is a fact that we must understand and recognize that these movements from West to East were also very disturbing and revolutionary in their effect.

The West entered the industrial revolution earlier than the East. By this accident of history, the West commanded the tools of modern science and technology much sooner than the East.

Through colonialism and by other means the West intruded its then superior power into the East. And, of course, there was a reaction.

That reaction has taken many forms, some peaceful and others violent. It should not surprise us, therefore, that scars--sometimes deep scars--have remained in men's minds and in their hearts.

Looking back over the years there are many searching questions that we can ask. How well have we really learned the lessons of our experience in Asia?

How well have we understood the complex causes of conflict in the Pacific's time of troubles?

How well have we understood the feelings and the aspirations of Asia's peoples during the century of turbulence?

How well have we understood the impact of West upon East--of Western arms, industry, and ideas upon Venerable Asian cultures?

How well have we understood the course of revolution in Asia?

How well have we understood the shocks--as well as the benefits--that modernization can bring to developing societies?

How well have we understood the shifting tides of nationalism in all its forms?

Well, in almost three decades of elective office I have had to answer these questions for myself.

For two decades I answered them as one who conceived America's destiny almost entirely in relation to Europe.

My forebears came from Britain, Ireland, and Germany. People in my section of the country regarded Asia as totally alien in spirit as well as nationality. East and West meant to us that Texas was west of where Sam Gilstrap lived--Oklahoma.

We, therefore, looked away from the Pacific, away from its hopes as well as away from its great crises.

Even the wars that many of us fought here were often with leftovers of preparedness, and they did not heal our blindness.

I remember we felt we would get some planes out here after they had all they needed in Europe in the early forties.

One consequence of that blindness was that Hawaii was denied its rightful part in our Union of States for many, many years.

Frankly, for two decades I opposed its admission as a State, until at last the undeniable evidence of history, as well as the irresistible persuasiveness of Jack Burns, removed the scales from my eyes.

Then I began to work and fight for Hawaiian statehood. And I hold that to be one of the proudest achievements of my 25 years in the Congress.

There are still those who cannot understand the Pacific's role in America's future. But their voices, shrill though they may be, are becoming few and tired, and small.

Most of us who were blind two decades ago can now begin to see.

Only by answering these questions with candor can we build solid foundations for our future relations with Asia. Only then can we really understand the depth of the desire in Asia for independence, for modernization, and for dignity.

American policy toward Asia today must be the policy of an open mind.

I am convinced that we have now reached a turning point in Asia's history, in Asia's relationship with the United States of America, in Asia's relations with all the rest of the world in which we live.

I think it has become clear that what we want to see in Asia is what the vast majority of Asians themselves want to see.

I do not pretend to speak for Asia. I cannot. But I do urge my countrymen: Let us listen when the Asians speak for themselves.

In the last few months I have had many, many talks with leaders from practically all of the countries of Asia. They and others of their countrymen have come to me and have spoken privately and freely of their hopes of tomorrow.

What do they want?

They have told me.

First, they want to be secure from outside attack and aggression. They want to end the threat of internal subversion with all the terrorism and murder that is associated with it.

They want their people to be able to live in peace.

They want to raise the living standards of their people.

They want their children to get an education.

They want to be able to see a doctor and to have medicine when they are ill.

They want, above all, to have a voice--a voice in their own destiny--self-determination--a voice in the choice of those who will lead them, whether in the village, the province, or in the nation's capital.

They want freedom--freedom and justice--and a fair prospect that their dreams can someday, sometime, come true.

They wish to make modern societies-but societies true to their own traditions, their own culture, and their own ambitions.

And that is also a good definition, I think, of what the United States wants to see in Asia. That is as good a definition as any that I can offer.

Well, what are the prospects of their achieving this goal?

I travel to the Far East this autumn at a time of great trial and conflict for the people of the Pacific Basin. I come to meet with the leaders of nations which share with us a common determination: that the people of South Vietnam shall be permitted to shape their own destiny, free from aggression from without and free from terror from within.

On our agenda are the hard questions of war in all of its aspects--of force and of sacrifice; of diplomacy and negotiation; of rehabilitation and reconstruction.

But I can tell you this: I go to Asia with confidence and with hope.

Behind the terrible costs of combat and hostility I believe that a new Asia is gradually coming into its own.

The process is slow, but the signs are unmistakable.

One after another the nations of Asia are casting off the spent slogans of earlier narrow nationalism. One after another the nations of Asia are grasping the realities of an interdependent Asia.

What are these realities?

--That the security of every nation is threatened by an attack on any nation.

--That national stability and strength can only come through self-help, rigorous planning, hard work, and sacrifice.

--That political power held by the few and the rich within a nation is power that will not long survive.

--That lasting national prosperity can only come through full cooperation with one's neighbors, the rich and the poor, the large and the small alike.

--That no single nation can or should be permitted to dominate the Pacific region.

--That disputes settled by other than peaceful means are disputes that will remain unsettled.

--Most important of all, that Asia's destiny lies in the hands of Asians themselves.

Throughout Asia today these realities are grasped, I believe, as never before.

A new spirit seems to me to be clearly at work: a self-confidence that permits cooperation; a skepticism that rejects illusory shortcuts; a deepening consciousness of Asia's proud past and an understanding and hope for Asia's great future.

Yes, important things are happening in Asia, and they are happening with Asian leadership and with Asian initiative.

That is, of course, only a beginning.

Great problems and greater challenges lie further ahead.

There remain in Asia, for instance, voices of extremism and apostles of militancy.

Such voices and such rhetoric are out of tune with the new currents in Asia. They are increasingly irrelevant. They are increasingly isolated.

For Asia's leaders and Asia's peoples are looking, I think, beyond narrow nationalism. They are looking beyond ideology.

They see on the one hand the age-old afflictions of poverty, ignorance, and disease. They see on the other hand the possibility of abundance, knowledge, and health. And they see the absolute necessity of matching Asia's needs with Asia's resources and those of other regions.

Nothing has really given us more encouragement in our part of the world--and I think throughout Asia--than the creation of the Asian Development Bank, with its new headquarters in Manila--a billion dollar regional bank to serve this great area of the world.

We think sooner or later this new perception will spread as well to the closed societies of Communist Asia. Sooner or later the pragmatic and compassionate spirit of the Chinese people will prevail over outmoded dogmatism.

We in America look to that day with hope and with confidence.

For our part, we shall do what we can to hasten its coming. We shall keep alive the hope for a freer flow of ideas and people between mainland China and the United States, as I have said so recently on so many other occasions. For only through such exchange can isolation be ended and suspicion give way to trust.

We do not believe in eternal enmity. All hatred among nations must ultimately end in reconciliation. We hopefully look to the day when the policies of mainland China will offer and will permit such a reconciliation.

But we are not prepared to pay for peace the price of freedom. We shall never surrender American freedom or sacrifice the freedom of America's allies in Asia.

America can help. We must help. We are now helping.

But we see our role as helping and not imposing our will on Asia.

We can give advice and technical assistance. We can cooperate in all kinds of activities--from the far reaches of space to the ocean depths.

Asia will provide its own leadership. Some of it is being built and trained right here in your atmosphere.

We do not need to instruct them or direct them. They will take their initiatives, they will make their decisions, and they will time their own actions.

But we must and we shall cooperate with that leadership.

Then our role is that of a neighbor among equals--a partner in the great adventure of bringing peace, order, and progress to a part of the world where much more than half of the entire human race lives.

As long as danger threatens, our strength shall back our commitments in Asia. Yet we seek no special status or privileges, no primacy, no territory, no base rights in perpetuity. We recognize that our strength, our size, and our great wealth may impose a very special obligation upon us in the transition to the new Asia. But we also recognize that the cooperative tasks of assistance and defense will be assumed more and more by others, and we hope by collective regional groupings, as the nations of Asia develop and build their own strength and their own abundance.

So, tomorrow morning--with your blessings-we will leave for Asia.

I will go to confer with the leaders of six nations--six nations who have also committed their sons to the proposition that aggression shall not succeed, and the people of South Vietnam shall have the right to shape their own future, by their own self-determination, and to shape it in peace.

I will go to see, to listen, and to learn-and to act with our partners to bring an honorable peace to Southeast Asia at the first day it is possible.

I want to caution all of my countrymen that we are taking with us no magical wands and no instant solutions.

I hope your speculations will be cautious and informed. We know all too well that this is a long road of many miles, but we will walk it, shoulder to shoulder with free Asia.

But I felt it right to share with you this afternoon--here in this very special place to me--the lessons of the past and the hopes for the future in our relations with Asia.

I intend to ask the leaders that I see to visit America--especially to come to this part of America, here in beautiful Hawaii, and to see for themselves a model--a model of how men and women of different races and different cultures can come and live and work together; to respect each other in freedom and in hope.

I shall say to my colleagues that I come not to admonish or to direct, but to inform, and that our foreign policy is as our domestic policy.

We want food for the hungry.

We want recreation for the families.

We want income, jobs, and wages for our workers.

We want education for our children.

We want Medicare, health, research, and nursing homes to take care of our needy.

We want a strong and adequate defense in order that we may be secure until that day finally comes when our guns are unloaded and war is no more.

Today in America we have plenty of food and we are developing a recreation-conservation program never equaled before.

Our income is at the highest in our history. Our gross national product is running at the rate of $750 billion per year.

This Congress passed 18 educational bills compared to six educational bills passed by the first 88 Congresses combined.

This Congress will spend over $4 billion on education, compared to $33 million a year, less than $5 billion for the entire 174 years.

We are laying and charting a course now to put beautiful nursing homes in every area of our country to take care of our old. We are examining the eyes, the ears, the teeth, and the bodies of our young who are 4 and 5 years old--beginning them on a "Head Start" program where, under our educational system, the Government will help them get all the education that they can take.

Finally, we will go to hear a brief report on our sons who are rendering such gallant service and such an excellent account of themselves in attempting to help this little nation of South Vietnam keep itself from being gobbled up, in an attempt to resist aggression and provide deterrence with the minimum damage and the minimum danger.

I know with me, on this great visit that I am returning to the heads of other states, I will carry your hopes and your prayers. I hope someday next year, the following year, or in the years to come--God only knows when--that we can meet again here in peaceful Hawaii when wars will be banished from the face of the earth, when prosperity will be known to every American family, and that the other families of the world will begin to raise their own standards of living. Then we can once again enjoy the blessings of which we have dreamed all these years. Thank you so much.

Note: The President spoke at 3:40 p.m. at the East-West Center in Honolulu following brief remarks by Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson (see 2 Weekly Comp. Pres. Does., p. 1635). In his opening words he referred to Governor John A. Burns of Hawaii and his wife, Thomas H. Hamilton, president of the University of Hawaii, and his wife, Howard P. Jones, chancellor of the East-West Center, and his wife, Representative Spark M. Matsunaga of Hawaii, and Monsignor Charles Kekumano, chancellor of the diocese of Honolulu.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the East-West Center in Honolulu Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Simple Search of Our Archives