(courtesy of Mr. Larry Hadzima, Neillsville, WI)
May 9, 1957
I. Joint meeting of the two Houses of Congress to hear an address by his excellency the President of the Republic of Vietnam.
Address of his excellency Ngo Dinh Diem, President of the Republic of Vietnam:
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, distinguished Members of the Congress of the United States, it is a rare privilege for me to have this opportunity to address you today.
To address you in the Halls of this Congress - where there has been forged the destiny of one of the great countries of the world.
I am proud to bring to the distinguished representatives of the noble Republic of the United States - the fraternal best wishes of the Vietnamese people. I bring as well the expression of their profound gratitude for the moral and material aid given by the people of the United States. My people appreciate both its great import and its profound significance.
Since the end of the last war, when Asia broke her chains, the conscience of the world has at last awakened to a profound and inevitable development, the birth of Asian independence. This realization has brought about a condemnation in the most concrete terms of the old system of exploitation which governed, in the past, the relationship between East and West. In its place firm efforts are being made to establish a new formula of international cooperation, more adapted to the real needs of the world and to the new Asian philosophy. It is the battle for independence, the growing awareness of the colonial peoples that the origin of their poverty has been the systematic withholding of technical development, coupled with the growing nationalist and social sentiment, that have combined to bring about a profound transformation in the Asian state of mind and given to its masses an irresistible dynamism.
The Asian people - long humiliated in their national aspirations, their human dignity injured - are no longer, as in the past, resigned and passive. They are impatient. They are eager to reduce their immense technical backwardness. They clamor for a rapid and immediate economic development, the only sound base for democratic political independence.
The leaders of Asia - whatever their ideologies - are all faced with the tragic urgency of the economic and social problems of their countries. Under the strong pressure of their peoples, they are compelled to adopt economic planning. Such planning is bound to cause serious political repercussions. It is for this reason that the main theme of domestic political debates in Asian countries centers around the extent of planning indispensable method required to bring urgent practical results. Should everything be planned? Or should planning be restricted to essential sectors? Should democratic or should ruthless totalitarian methods be adopted?
It is in this debate - unfortunately influenced in many countries by the false but seductive promises of fascism and communism - that the efforts being made to safeguard liberal democracy through aid given by the industrial countries of the West, play a vital role. For the honor of humanity, the United States has made the most important contribution to this end.
These, gentlemen of the Congress, in outline and general summary, are some of the problems facing the countries of Asia. These are the goals to be realized and the methods proposed. These are also the internal pressures and temptations facing Asian leaders.
In the great Asian land mass, Vietnam finds itself in the most sensitive area. Although Vietnam faces the same general problems of other Asian countries, because of her sensitive geopolitical position her problems are greatly intensified.
Placed at one of the strategic points of access for the important raw materials of Southeast Asia, the possession of which is decisive in the world, held back in her development by 100 years of foreign domination, exhausted by 15 years of war and destruction, the northern half of her territory given to the Communists, free Vietnam is in a more menaced and critical position than other Asian countries.
At great human sacrifice - and thanks to the aid given by the generous American people - free Vietnam has succeeded, in record time, to overcome the chaos brought about by war and the Geneva accords. The national rehabilitation and stability which have been achieved, have permitted the integration of over 860,000 refugees into the economy of the other 11 million people in free Vietnam, and have permitted the adoption of important economic and political reforms.
Nevertheless, at the time all Asia is passing from one civilization to another, at the moment when all the important problems come up at once to the leaders and seem to call for immediate solution, at a time when all must be done in a climate of increasing revolutionary tension, it has become necessary for Vietnam, more than for other countries, to adopt a certain number of principles, guide lines for action, not only to protect her from the totalitarian temptations but, above all, to assist her to attain independence instead of anarchy - to safeguard peace without sacrificing independence - to attain economic progress without sacrificing essential human liberties.
It was for these reasons - basing myself on fundamental sources of Asiatic culture, and within our own Vietnamese democratic tradition - That I had the honor to define this doctrine in the message of April 17, 1956, delivered to the National Constituent Assembly of Vietnam. I take the liberty of citing from it the most significant passages, for they constitute the basis of our constitution. I quote:
In the face of the massive forces of material and political oppression which constantly menace us, we feel, more than other people - the essential need to base our political life on a solid foundation and - rigorously to hasten the successive steps of our actions along lines which, without hesitation, will bring about the largest measure of democratic progress.
This can only be spiritualist - that line followed by human beings in their intimate reality as in their community life - in their vocation as in the free pursuit of intellectual, moral and spiritual perfection.
We affirm, therefore, our faith in the absolute value of the human being - whose dignity antidates society and whose destiny is greater than time.
We affirm that the sole legitimate object of the state is to protect the fundamental rights of human beings to existence - to the free development of their intellectual, moral, and spiritual life.
We affirm that democracy is neither material happiness nor the supremacy of numbers. Democracy is essentially a permanent effort to find the right political means in order to assure to all citizens the right of free development and of maximum initiative, responsibility, and spiritual life.
We are convinced that with these guiding principles as the central theme for the development of our political institutions, Vietnam will be able to make its political and economic regime - not a closed one - but an open system, broader with each passing day until it reaches the broad dimensions of man.
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, gentlemen of the Congress, the Republic of Vietnam, the youngest Republic in Asia, soon will be two years old. Our Republic was born among great suffering. She is courageously facing up to economic competition with the Communists, despite heavy and difficult conditions, which become daily more complex. Vietnam nevertheless has good reason for confidence and hope. Her people are intelligent, have imagination and courage. They also draw strength from the moral and material aid they receive from the free world, particularly that given by the American people.
In the face of increased international tension and Communist pressure in Southeast Asia, I could not repeat too often how much the Vietnamese people are grateful for American aid, and how much they are conscious of its importance, profound significance, and amount.
In actual fact, at any other moment of history, the conflicts between peoples have never been posed in such immediate terms of civilization as they are today. It is by having made timely contributions in sufficient quantities for the rehabilitation of our economic and technical life, which permitted a higher standard of living, that the free world, under the leadership of the United States, is assuring the success of the new system of international cooperation. This action has contributed to the defense of southeast Asia and prevented the raw materials of this area from falling into Communist hands.
Although our economy has suffered greatly from war, destruction and colonialism, the people of Vietnam are now increasing their contribution to their country. A few months ago the National Assembly voted new and higher taxes to bring in needed revenues for the national budget. A national conscription ordinance was recently promulgated, and a comprehensive declaration of policy was issued two months ago for the purpose of encouraging foreign private investment.
It is on this high moral plane that we pay tribute to the generous and unselfish assistance we have received from the people of the United States. It is on the same plane that the interests of Vietnam are identical with the interests of the people of the free world. It is on this plane that your and our fight are one and the same. We too will continue to fight Communism.
It is in this conviction and in the ardent and always present remembrance of the strong sympathetic comprehension with which the American people and Government have followed our efforts, that I close, thanking you once again, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, and gentlemen of the Congress, for the honor you have bestowed on me and for your kind attention."
[Congressional Record - House. May 9, 1957, pp.6699-6700.]
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