SYRACUSE, N.Y., Aug. 5, 1964 (UPI) President Johnson today denounced North Viet-Namese hostility against U.S. naval vessels as "deliberate, willful, and systematic aggression" which the United States could not permit to go unchallenged.
In a speech prepared for ceremonies dedicating the Samuel I. Newhouse Communications Center at Syracuse University, the chief executive said while the United States offered no threat whatever to any peaceful power, there could be "no peace by aggression and no immunity from reply."
Johnson spoke here shortly after Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara reported in Washington that 64 U.S. naval air sorties against North Viet-Namese torpedo boat installations had resulted in destruction or damage of 25 North Viet-Namese patrol craft, the destruction of an oil dump and four patrol boat bases with a loss of two U.S. Navy planes and damage to two others.
Johnson called the North Viet-Namese attack on Aug. 2 and yesterday against American destroyers as "deliberate...unprovoked."
"The attacks have been answered," he said, referring to the Seventh Fleet air strikes reported by McNamara.
The President told his audience that no one could be detached about the flareup of hostilities in Southeast Asia.
"Aggression has unmasked its face to the world," he said. "The world remembers - the world must never forget - that aggression unchallenged is aggression unleashed."
"There can be no doubt about the policy, no doubt about the purpose," he said of the North Viet-Namese actions. "So there can be no doubt about the responsibilities of men and nations devoted to peace."
Last night the grim-faced President told a nation-wide television and radio audience of the second North Viet-Nam torpedo boat attack on two American ships earlier in the day and of America's prompt reply.
"That reply is being given as I speak to you," he said. "Air action is now in execution against gunboats and certain supporting facilities of North Viet-Nam which have been used in these hostile operations."
Johnson said the response "for the present will be limited and fitting" because the United States "still seeks no wider war." But he made it clear that America would not shrink from defending itself and its allies in beleaguered Southeast Asia.
The President won unanimous backing from legislative leaders of both parties in his appeal for a congressional resolution endorsing any necessary action to deter further Communist attacks in Southeast Asia.
Johnson's six-minute statement on the crisis also signaled the beginning of a determined diplomatic campaign - in the United Nations and elsewhere - to impress upon the world the seriousness of what he termed the "repeated acts of violence" against U.S. armed forces.
Speaking to the Communists, the President said, "We Americans know, although others appear to forget, the risk of spreading conflict."