Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Remarks Upon Signing Joint Resolution of the Maintenance of Peace and Security in Southeast Asia

August 10, 1964

My fellow Americans:

One week ago, half a world away, our Nation was faced by the challenge of deliberate and unprovoked acts of aggression in southeast Asia.

The cause of peace clearly required that we respond with a prompt and unmistakable reply.

As Commander in Chief the responsibility was mine--and mine alone. I gave the orders for that reply, and it has been given.

But, as President, there rested upon me still another responsibility--the responsibility of submitting our course to the representatives of the people, for them to verify it or veto it.

I directed that to be done last Tuesday.

Within 24 hours the resolution before me now had been placed before each House of Congress. In each House the resolution was promptly examined in committee and reported for action.

In each House there followed free and serious debate.

In each House the resolution was passed on Friday last--with a total of 502 votes in support and 2 opposed.

Thus, today, our course is clearly known in every land.

There can be no mistake--no miscalculation--of where America stands or what this generation of Americans stand for.

The unanimity of the Congress reflects the unanimity of the country.

The resolution is short. It is straightforward. I hope that it will be read around the world.

The position of the United States is stated plainly. To any armed attack upon our forces, we shall reply.

To any in southeast Asia who ask our help in defending their freedom, we shall give it.

In that region there is nothing we covet, nothing we seek--no territory, no military position, no political ambition.

Our one desire--our one determination-is that the people of southeast Asia be left in peace to work out their own destinies in their own way.

This resolution stands squarely within the four corners of the Constitution of the United States. It is clearly consistent with the principles and purposes of the Charter of the United Nations.

This is another new page in the outstanding record of accomplishments the 88th Congress is writing.

Americans of all parties and philosophies can be justly proud--and justly grateful. Proud that democracy has once again demonstrated its capacity to act swiftly and decisively against aggressors. Grateful that there is in our National Government understanding, accord, and unity between the executive and legislative branches--without regard to partisanship.

This is a great strength that we must always preserve.

This resolution confirms and reinforces powers of the Presidency. I pledge to all Americans to use those powers with all the wisdom and judgment God grants to me.

It is everlastingly right that we should be resolute in reply to aggression and steadfast in support of our friends.

But it is everlastingly necessary that our actions should be careful and should be measured.

We are the most powerful of all nations-we must strive also to be the most responsible of nations.

So, in this spirit, and with this pledge, I now sign this resolution.

Note: The President spoke in the East Room at the White House. The joint resolution is Public Law 88-408 (78 Slat. 384).

Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks Upon Signing Joint Resolution of the Maintenance of Peace and Security in Southeast Asia Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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