The United States has vital interests in the entire Pacific Basin and those interests lie foremost in Asian tranquility and stability.
The experience of ending direct American involvement in a difficult and costly war initiated during Democrat Administrations has taught us a great deal about how we ought to define our interests in this part of the world. The United Stares is indisputably a Pacific power. We have sought to express our interests in the area through strengthening existing friendly ties and creating new ones.
Japan will remain the main pillar of our Asian policy. We have helped to provide the framework, over the course of thirty years, for the development of the Japanese economy, which has risen to second place among free world nations. This nation, without natural resources, has maximized its greatest resource, the Japanese people, to achieve one of the world's most significant economic advances. We will continue our policy of close consultation and cooperation with this valued friend. We have succeeded in establishing an exceptional relationship with Japan. Our long-range goals of stability and economic cooperation are identical, forming the essential strength of a relationship which both countries seek actively to deepen.
With respect to the Republic of Korea, a nation with which we have had traditionally close ties and whose economy has grown rapidly in recent years, we shall continue our policy of military and economic assistance. United States troops will be maintained in Korea so long as there exists the possibility of renewed aggression from North Korea. Time has not dimmed our memories of the sudden assault against South Korea. We reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the territorial integrity and the sovereignty of the Republic of Korea. Simultaneously we encourage the Governments of South Korea and North Korea to institute domestic policy initiatives leading to the extension of basic human rights.
When Republicans assumed executive office in 1969, we were confronted with a war in Vietnam involving more than 500,000 United States troops, and to which we had committed billions of dollars and our national honor and prestige. It was in the spirit of bipartisan support for Presidential foreign policy initiatives, inaugurated in the postwar era by Senator Arthur Vandenberg, that most Republicans supported the United States commitment to assist South Vietnam resist Communist-sponsored aggression. The human cost to us was great; more than 55,000 Americans died in that conflict, and more than 300,000 were wounded.
A policy of patient, persistent and principled negotiations extricated the United States from that ill-fated war with the expectation that peace would prevail. The refusal of the Democrat-controlled Congress to give support to presidential requests for military aid to the beleaguered nations of South Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, coupled with sustained military assaults by the Communists in gross violation of the Paris Peace Accords, brought about the collapse of those nations and the subjugation of their people to totalitarian rule.
We recognize that there is a wide divergence of opinion concerning Vietnam, but we pledge that American troops will never again be committed for the purpose of our own defense, or the defense of those to whom we are committed by treaty or other solemn agreements, without the clear purpose of achieving our stated diplomatic and military objectives.
We must achieve the return of all Americans who may be held in Southeast Asia, and a full accounting for those listed as Missing in Action. We strongly urge continued consultation between the President and the National League of Families of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia. This country owes at least this much to all of these courageous people who have anguished so long over this matter. To this end, and to underscore our top priority commitment to the families of those POW's and MIA's, we recommend, among other actions, the establishment of a presidential task force headed by a special presidential representative.
We condemn the inhumane and criminal retributions which have taken place in Cambodia, where mass executions and forced resettlements have been imposed on innocent civilians.
The important economic developments taking place in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and other Asian countries, will lead to much improved living standards for the people there. We reaffirm our friendship with these nations. Equally, our relationships with Australia and New Zealand are historic and important to us; they have never been better and provide a firm base on which to build.
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