184. Foreign Media Reaction Report Prepared in the United States Information Agency1


President Johnson’s announcement in his March 31 nationwide address on the Viet-Nam war that he would not seek or accept the Democratic Party nomination was generally seen by world media as a remarkable act of political and personal selflessness.2 Most observers accepted the decision as a laudable effort to prevent the war from becoming an election issue which would impair peace prospects.

Editorialists in many countries expressed admiration for Mr. Johnson’s “courage” and “statemanship” in withdrawing from the race “in the interest of national unity and peace.” At the same time, papers warned against interpreting the action as resignation or surrender.

The President’s accomplishments won considerable praise, especially his “unparalleled” success in bringing about advances in the fields of civil rights, health care, and education. Some papers said the Great Society and the New Deal3 would be linked together in history as periods of great domestic reform.

In several instances papers critical of U.S. actions interpreted the decision not to run as an admission that U.S. Viet-Nam policy had failed to achieve its objectives. However, many critics thought the announcement was a “supreme and noble” effort to bring peace in Viet-Nam and unity on the home front.

Foreign media emphasized that the withdrawal from the Presidential race greatly increased Mr. Johnson’s freedom of action in the difficult months ahead. A number of observers speculated that a successful conclusion of the Viet-Nam war might set in motion a draft-Johnson movement.

[Omitted here are excerpts from newspapers reporting on Johnson’s decision.]

  1. Source: Johnson Library, White House Central Files, Subject Files, EX FO 6–3, Box 62, FO 6–3 4/10/68–5/20/68. No classification marking. Marks sent the report to Roberts under an April 19 covering note that reads in part: “I thought that you should have this material for the archives.” (Ibid.)
  2. See footnote 2, Document 182.
  3. The New Deal was a series of laws and programs initiated by President Franklin Roosevelt and his administration in the mid-to-late 1930s to help the United States recover from the severe economic crisis, commonly referred to as the Great Depression, into which it had fallen following the stock market crash in October 1929.