Secretary of State Dean Rusk was testifying before the Democratic Platform Committee in Washington, D.C.?
Secretary of State Dean Rusk was testifying before the Democratic Platform Committee in Washington, D.C. Tuesday (August 20), when news of the invasion of Czechoslovakia forced him to leave.
Earlier Mr. Rusk told the committee that abandoning U.S. commitments in South East Asia would be "an invitation to disaster." The Secretary was called to a special meeting of the committee to decide what the party plank would say about South Viet Nam. The committee has been hard-pressed by Senator Eugene McCarty's supporter to call for a bombing half of North Viet Nam.
Mr. Rusk got a standing ovation from the Committee as he vigorously defended President Johnson's war policy and urged the committee not to interfere.
The Secretary had just finished his prepared testimony and was about to be questioned by several eager committee members when the session was dramatically interrupted by news of the invasion.
Mr. Rusk hurried from the witness stand to talk privately with committee chairman Hale Boggs. Mr. Boggs then read aloud the text of the news report quoting radio Prague's announcement that Soviet troops had just invaded the country.
The Secretary returned to the microphone to apologize for the sudden departure, explaining: "I think I'd better go and see what this is all about." He then hurried out of the room.
First, Southeast Asia matters. It is an area of 250 million people-almost as much as Europe. If it is threatened or unstable there cannot possibly be lasting peace in Asia. If, on the contrary it has confidence in the future--as it does today far more than 5 or 10 years ago--nations can develop both individually and through regional cooperation to advance the well-being of their peoples.
We cannot separate what happens in Southeast Asia from the structure of collective security which has played so important a role in maintaining the peace over the past two decades."