tv The Presidency CSPAN May 28, 2016 12:30pm-12:53pm EDT
now we continue with our look back at president johnson on the vietnam war. up next, a process -- a press conference. it is just over 20 minutes. chairman, i am glad to take your questions. do you think at this point our force levers in vietnam will begin to level off if we authorize strength or do you think more troops may be needed in the future? consideredpreviously and approved the recommendation the joint chiefs of staff are the force level. the generals discussed in this at some length with me just last night and this morning. he anticipates no increase in the level. >> top to the bottom is worth trying mccarthyism
just to see if north vietnam will respond. lyndon johnson: north vietnam has responded. their statement this week in the hanoi newspaper's response to my statement from the enterprise, it is clear and very compelling, and i think should answer any person in this country that has ever felt that stopping the bombing would have brought us to the negotiating table. i know i made it very clear in response to my deal from the enterprise that the effect was the same as it has always been, and the same as it was annunciated in ho chi minh's letter to me. there are some hopeful people and there are some naive people and some political people in this country. anyone that really was to know -- wants to know what position north vietnam is should read
what a spokesman of north vietnam said. that is best summarized in mr. ho chi minh's letter he made public. it is on the record and he has never changed it. all these hopes and dreams and idealistic people that go ahead simply mislead and confuse and weaken our position. mr. ward? >> you have any evidence that the viet cong might be moving toward a position of wanting to negotiate separate from hanoi, and if so, what would be your attitude towards negotiating? lyndon johnson: i would prefer to handle negotiations through diplomatic channels with whomsoever we may negotiate. i don't think this is a place to do negotiations. we are very anxious to find a solution that would bring an end to the war. as we stated so many times, we are ready to meet and discuss that with the officials of hanoi
and the viet cong, we will have no problem in having their voice fully heard and considered. i think it would be better if we were to wait until the opportunities develops along that line, and do it through our trained diplomats. >> you talked about the job of being president. this wednesday, you will complete four years in the office of president. i wonder if you will reflect on the presidency and what has been your greatest satisfactions, and what are your disappointments? lyndon johnson: i better do that a little later. i can't tell all the good things that have happened and the bad ones either. -- in four years in a 30 minute press conference at i would be charged with filibustering. but i think we primarily want to think to the future, not the past. it has been almost two centuries
since our revolution and since we won our freedom. we have come a long way during that period. we have much further to go as you can see from our education and health and city statistics. farm statistics. as long as there are four people out of every 10 that can't spell cat or write dog, we must -- we have much to do. i am particularly proud of what we have done in education, from head start to adult education where men and women past 70 are learning to read for the first time. i am very pleased we have raised our contribution on the federal government to higher education 16% to 24% in the last four years while the states have remained [indiscernible]
we have made revolutionary strides in education and health and conservation, where we are taking in as much land in the public domain for the first time in years has we are lending out. we feel that we have brought a degree of stability in our international relations to this hemisphere through the alliance for progress in the meetings. we think we have working with other nations made material advances in helping underdeveloped nations in africa. we are very pleased with what has come out of our meetings with the germans and the british and the trilateral talks, what what has come out of our kennedy round meetings, the several treaties we have negotiated with the soviet union, and the one we are working on, the nonproliferation treaty.
we are happy 9 million more people have good paying jobs as had when i came into this office. but these are things of the past, and we should accept and want to preserve them. but the important problems are ahead, what is the next century going to be like? what is the third century going to be like? as long as the ancient enemies are rampaging, illiteracy and ignorance and disease and poverty and war, there is much for government to do. we are working on that now, and we will be talking about that in the months ahead. mr. horner. >> a few of your talks with general westmoreland and the ambassador and others, what is your idea of the progress? lyndon johnson: i believe, and our allies believe, that we have a superior leadership, and the
best the united states of america can produce in experience, judgment, and training and general confidence. i have had three meetings with withsador bunker and three westmoreland. i had another one this morning before i came here. the american people like when we get in a contest of any kind whether it is a war or an election or a football game or what it is, they want it decided and decided quickly, get in or get out. they like that curve to rise like this, and they like for the opposition to go down like this. that is not the kind of war we are fighting in vietnam. we made our statement for what -- our statement to the world of what we would do if we had
communist aggression in that part of the world in 1954. we said we would stand with those people in the face of common danger, and the time came when we had to put up or shut up, and we put up, and we are there. -- march out and have a big battle each day, but it guerrilla war. it does not go that fast. summarizing what you are trying -- trying to be fully responsive to your question in the time allotted, i think we are moving more like this. and i think they are moving more like this instead of straight up and straight down. we are making progress. we are pleased with the results we are getting. we are inflicting greater losses then we are taking. we are very pleased amidst the fires of war, and more people
have been killed trying to vote in south vietnam that has been killed by bombs in north vietnam according to north vietnam's own figure. in the midst of all the horrors of war and guerrilla fighting in south vietnam, we have had five elections in a period of over 14 months. there was great doubt as to whether we can have any. it took us from 1776, 1789, not 13 months but 13 years to get a constitution with our anglo-saxon background and all the training we had. and to think here in the midst of war when the grenades are popping like firecrackers all around you, that two thirds or three fourths of the people would register and go vote and have five elections in 13 months, and through the democratic process, select people at the local level, a constituent assembly, a house of
representatives, senate, that is encouraging. except those -- the population under free control at the cost control--- control has constantly risen and that under communist control has constantly come down as a very encouraging sign. the improvement made by the south vietnamese themselves is putting in reform and announcing other programs and improving their own army is a matter of great satisfaction to ambassador bunker and general westmoreland. a have a lot to do yet and great many mistakes have been made. we take two steps forward and we step back one. it is not all perfect by any means. there are a good many days when we get c- instead of a+, but overall we are making progress, we are satisfied with that progress. our allies are pleased with that
progress. and every country i know in that area that is familiar with what is happening think that is essential that uncle sam keep our word and stay there until we can find an honorable peace. if they have any doubts with ho chi minh who reads the papers and listens to the radio and our television, if he has any doubts, i want to disillusion him this morning. we keep our commitments. our people are going to support the men that are there, and the men there are going to bring us an honorable peace. >> mr. president, hanoi may be interpreting the current public opinion polls to indicate that you will be replaced next year. how should this affect the campaign in this country? lyndon johnson: i don't know. interpretationr they might make that would lead
them to believe that uncle sam, whoever would be president, is going to pull out, it will be easier for them to make an insight deal with another president then it will be for the president, they will make a serious misjudgment. mr. howard. >> are you going to run again? lyndon johnson: i will get to -- i will cross that bridge when i have told you many times. >> why do you think there is so much confusion and frustration and difference of opinion in this country about the war in vietnam? lyndon johnson: there has always been confusion and frustration and difference of opinion when there is a war going on. i think it was during the revolutionary war and only a third of the people thought that was a wise move. and a third of them opposed it and a third were on the sidelines. i think that is true when all the new england secedes. in 1812 they stopped over in baltimore, and they do not quite make it because andrew jackson and the results of new orleans came in and they were having a
party that night. the next morning they came over and told the president they want to congratulate him. said he hadthey been right all along, although they had come from boston and baltimore with the secessionist moves. that was true in the mexican war when congress overwhelmingly voted to go ahead and pass resolution, the people had doubts about it. they could not be published it was so bitter. they had to hold up publication for a hundred years. i don't need to remind you about the civil war. people were here in the white house begging lincoln to concede and work out a deal with the confederacy when word came to him of his victories. they told him pennsylvania was gone, illinois had no chance. mr. morgan. >> some people on the air and in print accuse you of trying to label all criticism of your vietnam policy as unpatriotic.
could you tell us whether you have guidelines in which your -- you are enabled to separate conscientious dissent from irresponsible dissension? lyndon johnson: i haven't called anyone unpatriotic. i have not said anything that would indicate that. i think the wicked fleeth when no one pursueth sometimes. i do think that some people are irresponsible and make untrue statements and ultimately are -- ought to be cautious and careful when they are dealing with a problem involving their men at the front. there is a great deal of difference, as i said a moment ago, between criticism and responsible to sam, all of which we insist on, and protect. stormtrooper bullying of throwing yourself down the road and smashing windows and
rowdyism and every time a person attempts to speak, to try to drown them out. we believe strongly the right to differ and dissent. if i have done a good job from -- of anything since i have been president, is to ensure there are plenty of dissenters. [laughter] not a person in this press hall who cannot write what they want to write and most of them do right what they want to write. i say want advisedly. and i want to protect that. i think congress wants to protect that. if i buy chance should say, i am not sure if he saw the cables on this let me explain the other , side of it. i would hope that you would say critics orting my
that i am assailing someone. what i am trying to do is preserve my right to give the other side. i don't think one side ought to dominate the whole picture. so what i would say is, let's realize in the midst of a war, let's realize there are 500,000 of our boys out there giving their life to win that war, let's ask ourselves what it is we can do to help, and if you think you can do, you can make a contribution to helping them by expressing your opinion and dissenting, then do it. >> mr. president, is your aim in vietnam to win the war or to seek a compromise negotiation solution? lyndon johnson: our aim in vietnam has been very clear from the beginning. they are consistent with the trade deal, with the atlantic charter, with the many, many statements we have made to the congress in connection with that
government. the state has made dozens and dozens of times, and i have made enough i thought even all the preachers had heard about it. [laughter] that is namely, to protect the security of the united states. we think the security of the united states is definitely tied in with the security of southeast asia. second, to resist aggression. and when we are party to a treaty that says we will do it, we will carry it out. i think if you saw a little child in this room that was trying to waddle across the floor, and some big bully came along and grabbed her by the hair and started stomping, i think you would do something about it. i thought we made a mistake when we saw hitler moving across the landscape of europe and the concessions that were made by the men carrying umbrellas at that time.
and in retrospect, we thought that was a mistake. as a consequence in 1954 under the leadership of president eisenhower, we had this treaty. it was debated and considered and gone into very thoroughly and the senate. the man that presented this treaty to them said it was dangerous. the time may come when we have to put up or shut up. we will do whatever it is necessary to do to see that the aggressor does not succeed. those are our purposes, those are our goals, and we will get a lot of advice to do this or do that, and we will consider it all. but for years, west point has been turning out the best military men produced anywhere in the world. for years, we have had in the foreign service trained special people that we have an 110 today, the best brains we can select. and under constitutional
arrangements, the president must look to his secretary of state, to foreign policy, ambassadors, the views the express. to his leaders like the joint chiefs of staff, general westmoreland and others, carefully consider what they say, then do he thinks is right. the is not going to please mayor or the county commissioner or the legislature. it never has, it never has in any war we have been in been a favorite of the senate. leaders on the military committees, the leaders in other posts have frequently -- the speaker of the house approved the draft or woodrow wilson's administration. also invariably, senator vandenberg has always vowed a -- found a great deal wrong with the executives in the field of foreign policy. there is a division there, and there is some frustration.
those men expressing, and they have a right to it. of a have a duty to do it. the foreign relations committee had a big day yesterday, two resolutions in one day. i have my views about what is -- what those resolutions will achieve, but i also have an obligation to seriously and carefully consider the judgment of the branch of government, and we are going to do it. even though we may have some doubt about what will be accomplished, if it is a close question, we will try to meet their views. we think that is important. we have tried the united nations before, but we may try again because we believe this is the answer. we will do everything we can to make it the answer. i don't want to hurt its chances by giving any predictions at
this moment. but we will consider the views everyone suggests. >> we conclude the look back at president johnson and the vietnam war with the white house medal of honor ceremony for five servicemen. this 1968 film is on the u.s. department of defense and is just over 20 minutes. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] ♪ ♪