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Rusk E, Interview with Dean Rusk, circa 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Setting up the interview

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Partial Transcript: And Geneva and one question in particular--

00:00:54 - Relationship with John Foster Dulles and Dean Acheson

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Partial Transcript: Pop, Warren Cohen in his book made the statement that you were involved with every major foreign policy issue of the 1950s both due to your close personal friendship with John Foster Dulles and as part of the many advisory boards that you served with.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks on his relationship to John Foster Dulles and Dean Acheson, detailing his interactions with them during negotiations for the Japanese Peace Treaty. He further talks on their roles as mentors in his professional life. Rusk also recollects Acheson's reactions to the Alger Hiss case during a press conference.

Keywords: 1950s foreign policy; Alger Hiss; China; Cold War; Cold War espionage; Communism; Council on Foreign Relations; Dean Acheson; Dean Rusk; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Eisenhower Administration; George Marshall; Harry S. Truman; Japanese Peace Conference; Japanese Peace Treaty; McCarthyism; NATO; North Atlantic Treaty; Prospects for America; Rockefellers; Soviet espionage; The Marshall Plan; The Rockefeller Foundation; U.S. foreign policy; U.S. relations; U.S. relations with China; Warren Cohen

00:11:13 - Dean Acheson's role in the Kennedy and Truman administrations

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Partial Transcript: When John Kennedy was elected, he apparently was determined to avoid a Dean Acheson presence in his administration.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks on John F. Kennedy's reluctance to work with Dean Acheson, debunking speculation from John F. Kennedy that Dean Acheson was Harry S. Truman's sole advisor on foreign affairs during his administration.

Keywords: 1960 Democratic National Convention; Adlai Stevenson; Chester Bliss Bowles; Chester Bowles; Dean Acheson; Harry S. Truman; J. William Fulbright; James Fulbright; John F. Kennedy; Palestine; The Declaration of Constitutional Principles; The Southern Manifesto; William Fulbright; civil rights

00:16:47 - Transition to Secretary of State

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Partial Transcript: I wanted to focus in on a period of the transition from the time you were named by Kennedy in that Palm Springs press conference, as Secretary of State, through the day of the inauguration.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks on his responsibilities as Secretary of State for the Kennedy Administration, including his personal responsibilities to his family during the transition.

Keywords: Anthony Morton Soloman; Anti-communism; Charles Bohlen; Christian Herter; Cold War; Communist Scare; Cordell Hull; Dean Rusk; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Fidel Castro; George Ball; George Marshall; George Wildman Ball; John F. Kennedy; John Paton Davies, Jr.; Joseph Stilwell; Llewellyn Thompson; Martin Hillenbrand; McCarthyism; NATO; North Atlantic Treaty; North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Patricia Grady Davies; Robert Kennedy; Secretary of State; The Bay of Pigs; The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty; The Limited Test Ban Treaty; The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; The Test Ban Treaty; The United Nations; U.S. Foreign Service; U.S. foreign affairs; U.S. foreign policy; William Walton Butterworth

00:31:14 - "China Hands": U.S. foreign diplomats and McCarthyism

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Partial Transcript: I think I probably ought to say too that there are some people who seem to think that had it not been for McCarthyism and that kind of thing that each one of these old China hands would have wound up as ambassador to the Court of Saint James.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses his thoughts about many of the U.S. foreign diplomats during the Cold War and rampant McCarthyism.

Keywords: China Hands; Cold War; Communist scare; Court of Saint James; McCarthyism; U.S. Foreign Service; anti-Communism; censorship

00:32:34 - President Kennedy's Inauguration: transitioning responsibility from Eisenhower's Administration

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Partial Transcript: Can we come back to the Kennedy Inauguration itself?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the process of transitioning into Presidential Office, including several additions to the staff. He also talks about his preparation for becoming Secretary of State and being able to make quick but well-educated decisions. Rusk also explains the process of educating Foreign Diplomats.

Keywords: Christian Herter; David Bruce; Department of State; Edwin O. Reischauer; Foreign Ambassadors; Foreign Embassies; George Marshall; Harry S. Truman; John F. Kennedy; John F. Kennedy's Inauguration; Kennedy's Inauguration; Lincoln Gordon; Rockefeller Foundation; U.S. budget hearings; W. Michael Blumenthal; Werner Michael Blumenthal

00:45:49 - Briefing teams and task forces

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Partial Transcript: So, in this transition period, were you talking mainly to Secretary Herter and the people in the Secretary of State more than to the officials in the administration, the team, or whatever?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the meetings and education that occurred during his transition to Secretary of State and his staff's transition to White House staff.

Keywords: Assistant Secretary of War; Council on Foreign Relations; Dean Acheson; George Marshall; John Foster Dulles; Laos; Robert Lovett; Rockefeller Foundation; Secretary Christian Herter; The Bay of Pigs; The Vietnam War

00:51:48 - Chester Bowles as Under Secretary of State

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Partial Transcript: Did you feel it necessary to have a alter ego? Did you have an alter ego? Someone who could make decisions?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks on his desire to acquire an alter-ego in Chester Bowles as Under Secretary of State.

Keywords: Bay of Pigs; Chester Bowles

00:54:01 - George Ball, Robert McNamara, and Vietnam policy

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Partial Transcript: After Chester Bowles, I had George Ball as my Under Secretary and he was a genuine alter ego.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses George Ball's ability to discuss issues of Vietnam policy that others did not have the courage to openly speak on. He also discusses Robert McNamara's similar role in Vietnam policy.

Keywords: George Ball; Lyndon B. Johnson; Robert McNamara; William R. Clark

00:57:50 - Censorship and interpersonal conflicts during the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: What were some of the answers or possible reasons that you've come up with?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the issue of his peers remaining silent on certain issues during the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.; Hyannis Port; Johnson Administration; Kennedy Administration; Lyndon B. Johnson; President Kennedy; Robert Lansing; U.S. Cabinet; U.S. government; Vietnam War; Woodrow Wilson