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Rusk AAA, Nicholas Katzenbach, March 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:34 - First encounters with Dean Rusk / Dean Rusk's relationship with Robert Kennedy

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Partial Transcript: What were your first contacts with Dean Rusk?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach shares about his first contacts with Dean Rusk, including their first meeting at President John F. Kennedy's reception for Cabinet and sub-Cabinet appointees in 1961. Later, he talks about the relationship between Rusk and Bobby Kennedy, listing possible reasons for their disagreements.

Keywords: Foreign Service; JFK; Justice Department; Kennedy Administration; State Department; appointment of ambassadors; civil rights; presidential cabinet

00:08:16 - Clearing John Paton Davies

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask you about John Paton Davies.

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach shares about the process of clearing John Paton Davies after the McCarthy period. He discusses first trying to find a job for Davies and eventually using a news leak to clear him.

Keywords: AID; Agency for International Development; Bernard Gwertzman; Communism; Joseph McCarthy; New York Times; Red Scare; Republican administration; State Department; William S. Gaud Jr.; media leaks; security clearance

00:16:00 - Criticism and opposition to the clearing of John Paton Davies

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Partial Transcript: It wasn't possible for the Department, itself, or the Secretary of State, or someone high up in government to have held a kind of public ceremony and for the Department itself to put out a statement?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach and Rusk discuss the various obstacles and criticisms that arose during the clearing of Davies. They focus on Robert Kennedy, the Justice Department, and Marvin Kalb.

Keywords: Bobby Kennedy; Defense Department; JFK; Kennedy Administration; New York Times Magazine; President John F. Kennedy; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; State Department; bottle club

00:21:54 - Cuban Missile Crisis

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Partial Transcript: It's been twenty years.

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach discusses the various conflicts between members of EXCOMM on how to handle the Cuban Missile Crisis. He also talks about Dean Rusk's conduct and leadership style during the Cuban Missile Crisis as well as in general.

Keywords: Bay of Pigs; Bobby Kennedy; Cold War; Fidel Castro; Robert Kennedy; Soviet Union; The Executive Committee of the National Security Council; WW2; WWII; Walt Whitman Rostow; Warren I. Cohen; World War 2; World War II

00:28:19 - Dean Rusk's receptivity to dissent

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Partial Transcript: Were you the fellow in my dad's office who could tap him on the shoulder whenever and if he needed it and tell him, "You're being a damn fool"?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach shares how he saw Dean Rusk handle disagreements and conflicting opinions. He focuses this discussion on his personal experiences, U.S. diplomat Robert Bowie, and the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Robert Strange McNamara; Secretary of State Dean Rusk; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II

00:31:44 - Dean Rusk's administrative style

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Partial Transcript: Incidentally, what did you think of Halberstam's book?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach discusses his experiences with Dean Rusk as an administrator, sharing mainly about personnel problems in the State Department.

Keywords: Benjamin H. Read; David Halberstam; Foreign Service; Vietnam War; WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; retirement incentivization

00:39:05 - Move from Justice Department to State Department / Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: Regarding the Vietnam decision making--where can I start here?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach talks about his decision to move to the State Department and the influence of Dean Rusk. Later, he talks about Vietnam War policy, sharing his own views and the decisions of Rusk.

Keywords: Clark Clifford; Department of Defense; George Ball; John Edgar Hoover; Tet Offensive; Vietnam War task force; isolationism

00:46:28 - Dean Rusk's views on the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: What about that final session on the eve of the President's speech, where you fellows went over the draft, the text of the President's message?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach talks about Dean Rusk's views on the Vietnam War in the context of revising one of President Lyndon B. Johnson's speeches. Katzenbach also points out Rusk's secretive nature and disinclination to share his personal thoughts on the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Clark Clifford; Communism; Johnson Administration; Joseph McCarthy; LBJ; McCarthyism; Pentagon Papers; Red Scare; Robert Strange McNamara; Tet Offensive; Vietnam War bombings; Vietnam War troop commitments

00:54:18 - Anecdotes about Dean Rusk

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Partial Transcript: Did you fellows of the highest levels ever discuss domestic politics as a factor in the Vietnam decision making?

Segment Synopsis: Katzenbach and Richard Rusk share humorous memories of Dean Rusk, including a meeting with William Harriman, a speech by Joseph Goldberg, and Dean Rusk's conduct with foreign leaders.

Keywords: Department of State; Johnson Administration; LBJ; President Lyndon B. Johnson; Tet Offensive; U.N.; United Nations; wise old men