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Rusk CCCCCC, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk, 1986 February

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:17 - Background on the Pueblo Incident

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Partial Transcript: Okay, we're interviewing [David] Dean Rusk about the Pueblo incident of 1968.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about the U.S.S. Pueblo, a U.S. intelligence gathering ship that was seized by North Korea. He discusses territorial limits, economic zones, and concerns surrounding retaliatory strikes, and chronicles the negotiations following the Pueblo Incident.

Keywords: Commander Bucher; Panmunjom; South Korea

00:09:17 - North Korea's obstinance

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Partial Transcript: But this incident illustrates the point that arises in almost any of these situations: Where do your priorities lie?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk emphasizes that the U.S. priority in the Pueblo Incident was on rescuing the captured servicemen. He talks about conflict with North Korea, the unlikelihood of Korean reunification, and the Blue House Incident--a 1968 North Korean assassination attempt on South Korean President Park Chung-hee.

Keywords: Blue House; Japan; Kim Il Sung; President Park; South Korea; USSR; Wonsan Harbor

00:14:32 - Lessons learned from the Pueblo Incident and the USS Liberty

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Partial Transcript: How did you first hear about the Pueblo, Pop?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about alternative scenarios and lessons learned with respect to the Pueblo's surrender, but supports Commander Bucher's decision. He criticizes Israel's attack on the USS Liberty during the Six-Day War in 1967, which Israel claimed to be an accident due to mistaking the U.S. ship as an Egyptian one.

Keywords: Navy; North Korea

00:18:06 - International maritime disputes

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Partial Transcript: Did you make any efforts to get North Korea's allies, such as they were--the Soviet Union and perhaps China--to try to influence them to release these people and play a more responsible role?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains how Bucher showed that North Korea's accusations were false and talks about the bounds of international law. He mentions times when the U.S. and U.S.S.R. crossed into one another's waters and purposely agitated each other's radars.

Keywords: 303 Committee; China; USSR

00:25:33 - Varied perceptions of the Pueblo Incident

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Partial Transcript: Do you think the Pueblo mission and similar missions were worthwhile missions?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about the risks, losses, and payoffs of intelligence ship missions, stating that the use of satellites make such missions less necessary. He comments on the Pueblo crew's statements, coerced intelligence, the crew's small subversions of their captors, criticisms from the Navy, and media coverage of the incident.

Keywords: Blue House; Court of Inquiry; John Chafee; digit affair

00:35:52 - Responses to the Pueblo Incident

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Partial Transcript: Did you personally have any fault with the procedures that made it impossible to provide cover for a ship of that nature, on a mission of that nature?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains improvements in vessel security procedures after the incident, plots to recover the Pueblo's gear, and Rostow's plan to capture a Soviet "counter-hostage" ship. He talks about the U.N. controversy regarding the Pueblo's guilt, efforts to pacify South Korea, and the Remember the Pueblo Committee.

Keywords: Arthur Goldberg; Blue House; Robert McNamara; UN; Walt Whitman Rostow; appeasement; symmetry

00:45:33 - "Bizarre" diplomacy with North Korea / U.S. responses to aggression and terrorism

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Partial Transcript: Pop, when you guys signed this statement that the North Koreans were insisting upon, even adding your qualifier that none of it was truthful or factual, did you worry that this was too so-called soft a response?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk says that in order to have the Pueblo crew released, the U.S. had to sign a pre-written statement, but that they added a clause saying that the statement was untrue. Rusk comments on people's willingness to take credit for foreign affairs victories. He discusses President Johnson's view of the Pueblo Incident, shares advice on when to be silent and when to speak up against wrongs, and talks about the rule of law and use of force.

Keywords: Iran; North Korea; Reagan; response