Don't Tread On Us
Little as the American people like warfare, the United States' reply to North
Vietnamese attacks on our destroyers was the most realistic possible.
Few in this nation are happy over the chain of events. Only a fool enjoys the
excitement of gunfire exchange. And the prospects of nuclear war could please
only an idiot. But there a point beyond which no man can be pushed and that
was reached early this week when North Vietnamese craft attacked American destroyers
a second time in international waters.
"No peace by aggression and no immunity from reply," President Lyndon
B. Johnson declared Wednesday at Syracuse University. This statement of U.S.
policy is fair warning to those who would employ violence against us.
If the Communist leaders of the Chinese People's republic were merely testing
Washington's reactions in an election year, they know now retaliation will be
swift and certain. American men and planes were lost in the attack on North
Vietnam shore bases. But the Reds suffered far more in causalities and damage.
In case the PT boats' attacks on U.S. Navy craft were the opening of a Communist
drive to take over all Asia by force, the issue was joined unfavorably from
Peking's standpoint. Furthermore, there was little good news for China also
in swift American reinforcement of land, sea and air units in the threatened
All Americans hope the incidents were tests. They would prefer a world state
of uneasy peace to one of widespread bloodshed. During the past 19 years, however,
they have been pushed and shoved constantly by Communism. Their temper today
is one of resolution not to take another backward step.
The best reaction to armed attack is immediate and crushing counterattack.
This the United States has done in North Vietnam. Perhaps the Reds will not
repeat their aggression in the Gulf of Tonkin. Judging by the past, however,
it is certain they will try something- somewhere- and not before too long.
Korea, the Berlin blockade, missile bases in Cuba and Tonkin Gulf attacks are
all part of a pattern. This week proved the American people will still react
vigorously and effectively. Our domestic policy divisions have not lessened
our determination to resist Communist aggression and we trust the men in Moscow
and Peking understand that facet of the American character.