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Toasts of the President and the Secretary General of NATO

September 29, 1964

Mr. Secretary General, distinguished guests:

I am very pleased today to welcome Secretary General Brosio to this house.

He has come as the chief officer of the NATO Alliance and as the representative of half a billion people united in the defense of freedom under the North Atlantic Treaty.

It gives me pride and a great amount of pleasure to have the opportunity to have assembled in this room some of the chief architects of this great union and some of the men who have played such an important part in its development.

We are particularly honored to have the distinguished ambassadors from the member countries, our own respected General Norstad who served with such distinction, our former distinguished Secretary of State, Mr. Acheson, Mr. Lippmann, and others who have followed the development of this great organization through the years.

General Brosio comes here today as our friend. He has served with great distinction as Ambassador of the Italian Republic to this country. His country's readiness to let such a talented public servant go to work for NATO is real evidence of the deep interest and the very vital role that his country, Italy, plays in this great alliance.

NATO owes much to the distinguished line of men who have served in the high office of Secretary General.

NATO is a vast organization, but it is also a most intimate alliance. In 15 years, it has grown impressively in confidence, in strength, and in character. It is the most successful and the most peaceful alliance in history.

For us in the United States NATO is a tested and a recognized cornerstone of United States foreign policy. It has and it will continue to have the strongest bipartisan support from the leaders of this Government.

After 15 years the Atlantic area is more secure than ever. Aggression and threats to freedom in Europe have been turned back.

All our peoples can take pride in what we have really achieved.

But the real task of defending liberty and freedom is never done. The security of our alliance is only assured so long as we remain determined and strong and insist on protecting our people and their values.

I would have you know again that America's commitment to this alliance is real, firm, and substantial. It was not given lightly.

The considered American decision in 1949 to participate in NATO--and some of the legislators like Senator Anderson are in this room today who participated in its creation-represented a most historic break with isolationism in this country.

Now and in the future this commitment remains as firm as facts and strength can make it.

Allied defense is indivisible. American security depends on the security of the alliance as a whole, and the alliance in turn depends upon the strategic strength of the United States. We believe that all of our adversaries understand this, and we hope so do the free peoples of the alliance.

As our beloved and distinguished Secretary of State has said so many times, this Nation does not seek to dominate anyone. Within our alliance, there is room for the efforts of us all, and there is room for new patterns of shared responsibility. We are ready and willing and anxious--and eager-to work together with all of our friends to make doubly sure that our strength will be as clear tomorrow as it is today.

America seeks a growing partnership of freedom, a partnership that is based on shared respect of reality and shared responsibility for effective defense.

NATO's strength has increased by virtue of the additional sacrifices that the Congress and our own country has made in the field of building our own strength in the last few years under the unique and highly skilled leadership of our great Secretary of Defense, Mr. McNamara.

Mr. Secretary General, we in the United States, all of us, believe in NATO and that is why we have taken this occasion to come here today and in our own little way honor NATO and honor your presence in this house.

We all know that your's is a vital role in a very vital organization. We are confident that the affairs of this alliance have been placed in good hands, in your hands, and while you are Secretary General and as long as you are, we in America look forward to a period of the closest possible cooperation and support.

So, my distinguished guests, I ask all of you to join me in a toast to Secretary General Brosio who serves a dynamic alliance and through it serves the great cause in which all of us believe so strongly--the cause of peace, the cause of freedom, and the cause of justice for all of the people of the world.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a luncheon in the State Dining Room at the White House. Secretary General Manlio Brosio responded as follows:

Mr. President, your Excellencies, the Ambassadors, gentlemen:

I will say only a few words because I am really and deeply moved.

I am moved, Mr. President, by the honor you have done me today in inviting me to this lunch in the company of such a distinguished group of businessmen in the United States and in many allied and friendly countries.

I remember, Mr. President, when I saw you the first time, and then I had the opportunity of meeting you several times at the Senate of the United States. I remember my first meeting with you in your office when I called on you as leader of the majority. I admired you then as I admire you now.

I am moved because I am back here in Washington where I worked over 6 years for my country and for the friendship between the United States and Italy, moved because around here are so many people who cooperated with me then, assisted me with their advice, with their opinions, with their moral support.

Now I come here in a different capacity. I am no more the representative of one ally in the NATO Alliance but I am the servant of the 15 countries of the alliance.

You were so kind, Mr. President, as to use the word leadership. Leadership of the alliance belongs to the countries and especially to the countries who more deserve it by the effort they contribute to its strength and to its moral power. I am only, as I said, a faithful servant, and I hope I will always be.

Certainly I am proud that an Italian has been chosen for this post, and I am glad that a European has been chosen again for this post, as it has been three other times.

I am proud to follow such remarkable men as Lord Ismay, as Paul-Henri Spank, and as Dirk Stikker.

The North Atlantic Alliance is essentially the mutual defense of Europe and America, and it is good that a European represents the alliance at this post of Secretary General. Because there is great hope for the alliance, Mr. President, in the possibility that Europe through a larger and larger and to a deeper and deeper degree of unity may contribute better with more strength, with more authority to these alliances of ours which should and will remain as the essential pillar of our freedom and of our peace.

I am deeply conscious of this. The only contribution I am sure to bring to the alliance is a part of the little experience, through the confidence of my government, I have gathered in different countries in the last 18 years. The only contribution I am really sure to bring to the alliance is the contribution of a loyalty without reserve, of a conviction without limitations, and with an entire dedication and a will to give all my energies to the consolidation, to the continuation, and to the success of these alliances.

I entirely share your opinion, Mr. President, that the ultimate goal of 'the alliance, apart from defense, is peace.

I am profoundly convinced that if peace has been preserved with freedom in Europe and in our area, that has been due to the strength and to the unity of the alliance, and as long as the strength and the unity will continue, we will be safe and, today, if something happened in a different direction, we would be in danger.

These are the feelings which move me today and I owe this visit to your great country which has given such an amazing contribution with such generosity, with such a wisdom to our alliance.

I am glad that I am here and I assure you, Mr. President, that this day has confirmed my conviction that I will always find here full support and full comprehension.

I am not saying just the usual words of compliment if I say that my talks these days with the most responsible people of the United States Government have been extremely frank, extremely useful. And we have tried to get into the main problems of the alliance as deeply as we could, with the sole intent of understanding each other and seeing generally what should be done and in which direction we are going to move in the future.

I believe that this will be the good direction and that with your help, Mr. President, with the help of your country we will succeed. We will succeed in our tasks in defense of peace and in defense of freedom.

May I thank you, Mr. President, and may I thank all of the gentlemen here who have honored me with their presence. May I assure them and assure you, Mr. President, that I will leave this country encouraged and determined even more to fulfill my duties unflinchingly and to be worthy of the great honor which has been done to me and of the great confidence which has been shown for me.

Thank you very much.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and the Secretary General of NATO Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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