May 22

This Day in History

Vietnam War

May 22, 1964:

Rusk warns North Vietnamese

In a major speech before the American Law Institute in Washington, D.C., Secretary of State Dean Rusk explicitly accuses North Vietnam of initiating and directing the aggression in South Vietnam. U.S. withdrawal, said Rusk, "would mean not only grievous losses to the free world in Southeast and Southern Asia but a drastic loss of confidence in the will and capacity of the free world." He concluded: "There is a simple prescription for peace--leave your neighbors alone." In the fall, there was incontrovertible evidence that North Vietnamese regular troops were moviing down the Ho Chi Minh Trail to join the Viet Cong in their war against the Saigon government and its forces.

Elsewhere in Southeast Asia, Thailand mobilized its border provinces against incursions by the communist Pathet Lao forces from Laos and agreed to the use of bases by the U.S. Air Force for reconnaissance, search and rescue, and even attacks against the Pathet Lao. By the end of the year, some 75 U.S. aircraft would be based in Thailand to assist in operations against the Pathet Lao. Eventually, Thailand permitted the United States to use its air bases for operations against the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese in South Vietnam, and ultimately to launch bombing raids against North Vietnam. In addition, Thailand sent combat troops to South Vietnam, numbering 11,000 at the height of the Thai commitment.

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