[Marxism] From the archives: LBJ on the 1965 invasion of the Dominican Republic

Brian Shannon brian_shannon at verizon.net
Wed Aug 23 18:39:04 MDT 2006

This is from my standing Google search for Andy Biemiller, one of the  
leaders of The Militant caucus of the Socialist Party, which the SWP  
entered in order to win over its left wing. Not much about Biemiller,  
but this is rich stuff about the 1965 U.S. invasion of the Dominican  

LBJ refers to the OAS, the charter of which had a detailed provision  
against invasion for any purpose whatsoever. As we know, "might makes  



President Lyndon B. Johnson
Remarks to the 10th National Legislative Conference, Building and  
Construction Trades Department, AFL-CIO.
May 3rd, 1965
. . .

I knew you were meeting today and I wanted very much to come over and  
drop in and give you a word of welcome and say howdy and thank you.  
But when I looked at my schedule and saw the cables that were being  
brought to my desk I did not see how in the world I could make it.  
Then I got a telegram. It wasn't about repealing 14b, although I know  
that is important to you, and it is important to me. It wasn't about  
the various legislative proposals which you are interested in,  
important as they are. It was about the most vital issues in this  
country, and for that matter, in the whole world, which are peace and  

So I have stolen these few minutes to come over here just to say,  
thank you. Thank you for saying to the world that this Nation of  
ours, the United States of America, speaks in unity with one voice  
from one heart. Thanks to you for saying that we believe in freedom  
and we believe in peace. Thanks to you for saying that we will not  
buy peace at the price of losing freedom anywhere, any time, in the  
world. Thanks to you for saying that American labor, the champions of  
freedom here at home, knows that freedom's frontiers are today in  
Viet-Nam and the Dominican Republic, where both are under attack.
. . .

Last Saturday, a week ago, our Ambassador from the Dominican Republic  
was here in Washington. He had been called back here to report on  
very disturbing developments in that little nation of 3 1/2 million  
off our shores in this hemisphere.

While he was talking to us, the government was overthrown. We rushed  
him back to his post of duty. Since that time certain undesirable  
elements have stepped in and tried to take control of that nation.

Today, there are between 1,000 and 1,500 dead people whose bodies are  
in the streets of Santo Domingo, threatening an extreme epidemic.  
There were 8,000 American and foreign nationals in that country whose  
lives were in danger.

At approximately 3:30, our Ambassador wired me on--well, he was here  
Saturday, we rushed him back--on Tuesday we went before the OAS Peace  
Council and discussed that serious problem. On Wednesday, the  
Organization of American States met and they talked about the gravity  
of the situation, discussed it thoroughly, and adjourned.

On Wednesday afternoon we were meeting there with what I thought was  
the greatest problem that we had on our hands-Viet-Nam.

Mr. Rayburn used to say, when these Congressmen poured into his  
office every day, the fellow would say, "I have the most important  
problem in the world." He said, "That's what that fellow said that  
you met going out of here."

I thought this was the most important until I got a cable at 3:16  
saying the chief of police and the governmental authorities tell us  
that American lives are in danger and we can no longer offer them any  
protection. We notified the appropriate people to stand in readiness  
and we went ahead to conclude our conference on Viet-Nam.

By 5:16 we had another cable that said, "You must land troops  
immediately or blood will run in the streets, American blood will run  
in the streets."

And that is the unanimous decision of every man on the American team.  
There are nine of them, one from the Army, one from the Air Force,  
one from the Navy, the Ambassador, one from the USIA, and so forth-- 
what we call a country team, the board of directors in that specific  

Well, I said I have a meeting on balance of payments with a bunch of  
bankers and big businessmen in the next room. You get the troops on  
the way, and you ask the Congressmen, the leadership, to come to the  
White House and we'll meet at 7 o'clock. That was about 6 o'clock, a  
little before. I went on with my meeting without discussing it. When  
we met at 7, talking to the leaders, while I was talking to them, I  
was handed a note by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff which  
said the Marines have landed. That's a great tribute to Bob McNamara  
and to the Joint Chiefs of Staff for competence and efficiency, that  
within an hour they can put men ashore without the loss of a single  

No President ever has a problem of doing what is right. I have never  
known one to occupy this office--and I have worked with five of them-- 
that did not want to do what is right. The big problem is knowing  
what is right. But I knew this: This was no time for indecision, or  
procrastination, or vacillation. The American people hadn't elected  
their President to dodge and duck and refuse to face up to the  

Since that time we have evacuated 2,500 Americans. The Michigan State  
University jazz band was down there. We got them home. The brewers-- 
the brewery people--I guess they didn't know you all were meeting  
here in Washington, they were having their convention down there, and  
we got them home.
  . . .

We believe the Organization of American States will make such a  
recommendation. We are not the intervenors in the Dominican Republic.  
The people that intervened in the Dominican Republic were the people  
who had been trained outside of the Dominican Republic in guerrilla  
warfare and came in there to help overthrow that government and to  
have a Communist seizure of that country. We are there to protect  
those people and we propose to protect them.



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