Why are we in South Viet-Nam?
We are there because we have a promise to keep. Since 1954 every American President has offered support to the people of South Viet-Nam. We have helped to build, and we have helped to defend. Thus, over many years, we have made a national pledge to help South Viet-Nam defend its independence.
And I intend to keep that promise.
To dishonour that pledge, to abandon this small and brave nation to its enemies, and to the terror that must follow, would be an unforgivable wrong. We are also there to strengthen world order. Around the globe from Berlin to Thailand are people whose well being rests in part on the belief that they can count on us if they are attacked. To leave Viet-Nam to its fate would shake the confidence of all these people in the value of an American commitment and in the value of America's word. The result would be increased unrest and instability, and even wider war.
We are also there because there are great stakes in the balance. Let no one
think for a moment that retreat from Viet-Nam would bring an end to conflict.
The battle would be renewed in one country and then another. The central lesson
of our time is that the appetite of aggression is never satisfied. To withdraw
from one battlefield means only to prepare for the next. We must say in Southeast
Asia as we did in Europe in the words of the Bible: "Hitherto shalt thou
come, but no further."