Partial Transcript: Maybe we could pick up at the time when you came back from India for a brief period and were called to Washington for your first job.
Segment Synopsis: Rusk mentions individuals he worked with in the Operations Division of the War Department General Staff, and he describes SWNCC's influence on FDR's foreign policy decisions. Rusk also describes his time in the State Department, where he worked on negotiations between members of the UN Security Council.
Keywords: Department of Defense; Department of State; Franklin Roosevelt; Oxford; State/War/Navy Coordinating Committee; UNSC; United Nations; diplomacy
Partial Transcript: Getting back to your work at the Operations Division under General Lincoln...
Segment Synopsis: Rusk recalls managing the Bureau of Special Political Affairs. He also talks about Secretary of State George Marshall's personality traits, including his insistence on concise language, his sardonic humor, and his professionalism.
Keywords: Alger Hiss; Bureau of Special Political Affairs; Bureaus of United Nations Affairs; John McCloy; Operations Division; State Department; United Nations
Partial Transcript: Isn't that the same office that you later occupied when you were Secretary of State?
Segment Synopsis: Rusk mentions working in various government buildings and living around the D.C. area. He chronicles several positions he held in Washington and discusses Far Eastern Affairs.
Keywords: Assistant Secretary for United Nations Affairs; General McCarthy; John Foster Dulles; State Department
Partial Transcript: One of my jobs as John Foster Dulles' backstop was to brush aside efforts made by all sorts of people in different agencies of the government to include this, or that, or the other kind of trivia in the Japanese Peace Treaty.
Segment Synopsis: Rusk speaks about the Japanese Peace Conference, the UN Security Council, and the status of smaller countries within the UN.
Keywords: Dean Acheson; Gromyko; Japan; Russia; United Nations; veto
Partial Transcript: Can we talk about your relations with President Truman?
Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about Truman's view of the presidency and his decisive nature, which Rusk contrasts with Kennedy's more cautious approach to congressional matters. Rusk emphasizes how demanding the role of president is.
Keywords: Adlai Stevenson; JFK; decision making; foreign policy
Partial Transcript: Can we talk about the creation of Israel just in the time remaining...
Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the UN Partition Plan and his negotiating with Zionist and Arab parties during the formation of Israel. He also recalls reactions of US and foreign diplomats to President Truman's recognition of Israel.
Keywords: George Marshall; United Nations; Zionism; diplomacy; negotiations
SCHOENBAUM: Maybe we could pick up at the time when you came back from Indiafor a brief period and were called to Washington for your first job. That was in the Defense Department still, wasn't it?
DEAN RUSK: In the early summer of 1945 I was ordered back from the CBI[China-Burma-India] Theatre to the Operations Division of the War Department General Staff. I was assigned to a section of the Operations Division which was responsible for thinking about and making recommendations on long-range policy matters. The head of that section was General George [Arthur] Lincoln, 00:01:00inevitably called "Abe" Lincoln, and in my particular section there was Charles [Hartwell] Bonesteel, who later became a four-star general commanding in Korea; there was James McCormack, who later became a general in charge of the weapons program for the Atomic Energy Commission; and then Colonel Ned Parker, who later became a four -star general. Another officer I remember was then Colonel Sidney [Francis] Giffin, who later became a two- or three-star general in the Air Force. In other words it was a very talented group. Lincoln, Bonesteel, 00:02:00McCormack, and I had all been Rhodes Scholars, more or less at the same time at Oxford.
SCHOENBAUM: Had you known each other at Oxford?
DEAN RUSK: Yes, I had known Bonesteel, for example, very closely at Oxford. Ihad been involved in his wedding over there. But that group was very much involved in policy issues affecting, by the summer of 1945, policies with regard to the occupation of Germany ; with the terms of surrender and the postwar arrangement with respect to Japan; our participation in the launching of the young United Nations; and a series of questions where military and foreign 00:03:00policy mingled. During World War II it was inevitable to a degree that many policy questions were subordinated to the needs of the successful prosecution of the war. So, Franklin [Delano] Roosevelt relied very heavily upon Secretary of War Henry [Lewis] Stimson and upon Chief of Staff of the Army George [Catlett] Marshall for many questions which normally would be thought of as foreign policy questions. The influence of the Army and Navy was very high in relation to the influence of the State Department in those closing years of the war. We did have what was called a State/War/Navy Coordinating Committee, SWNCC, where assistant 00:04:00secretaries of the State/War/Navy met regularly to try to concert policy on a great many questions. My little section in the Operations Division of the General Staff was to backstop for Assistant Secretary of War John J. McCloy for his participation in these SWNCC discussions. We also were the staff backstop for General George Marshall on all matters coming before the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Of course the Joint Chiefs were asked to comment on a lot of these policy questions which were being taken up at SWNCC.
SCHOENBAUM: Now, backstop means that you would do the...
DEAN RUSK: We would do the staff work and make recommendations to them as to00:05:00the steps they should take when they met with their opposite numbers to make recommendations to the President.
SCHOENBAUM: So you have first crack at them in the formulation process
DEAN RUSK: Yes, and one result of the fact that we were backstopping both thecivilian side and the military side meant that there was a very close coordination between the military and civilian sides at least in the armed services. That service in that section in the War Department General Staff brought me into pretty close contact with a good many people in the State Department who were involved in the same kinds of subjects. So, that was a very interesting, rewarding and full program that we had there in that section.
SCHOENBAUM: In that capacity you began to work on what later became the North00:06:00Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO] as well.
DEAN RUSK: No, that came about somewhat later. You see, I served in the Armyuntil January 1946. Then I was demobilized and went over to the State Department as Assistant Chief of the Division of International Security Affairs in the Bureau of Special Political Affairs, which later became the Bureau of United Nations Affairs. And for several months I was over there as a reasonably junior officer in the State Department. My division reported to the office director, who, at that time was Alger Hiss. At the State Department there I worked intensively on matters held before the United Nations, such things as the first 00:07:00negotiations among the Big Five in the Security Council on putting together the forces that were called for under Chapter Seven of the U.N. [United Nations] Charter. We and the Russians had never come to an agreement on the nature of those forces. In retrospect I suspect that we perhaps overplayed our hand a bit; because we had come out of World War II with a much stronger Navy and Air Force than the Russians had, and our people wanted our contribution to these U.N. forces to be disproportionately large over against the Russians in Navy and Air, whereas the ground forces would be relatively equal. Well, the Russians insisted upon man for man, ship for ship, plane for plane. Now, in retrospect it probably made very little difference as to whether we were able to agree on putting together such forces, because with the veto in the Security Council it proved most unlikely that the five permanent members would ever work together to employ 00:08:00such forces. So, perhaps that wasn't as tragic as it seemed to us at the time to be.
But, I was very much involved in the early cases before the U.N. SecurityCouncil during those months. For example, the first case before the U.N. Security Council had to do with the attempt by the Soviet Union to keep their troops in Azerbaijan, the northwest province of Iran. During the war we and the Soviets had put a considerable number of troops into Iran to provide a line of communication for lend-lease and other supplies going to the Soviet Union for their war against Germany. And the understanding was that at the end of the war we would all get out. We got out, but the Russians didn't. So that case came before the U.N. Security council. If you ever see, as one sees very rarely, a television recreation of those sessions of the Security council, you will see 00:09:00that Secretary of State, James [Francis] Byrnes sat (unintelligible) in the Security Council during some of those meetings, and sitting just behind him will be a very young staff officer, namely myself.
Then, in the summer of 1946 I was called back to the Pentagon to become aSpecial Assistant to the Secretary of War, Robert [Porter] Patterson. I actually worked immediately in the office of Assistant Secretary of War, Howard [Charles] Petersen, a banker from Philadelphia. There I was heavily involved with policy matters affecting the Army, such as the occupation of Japan, and matters involving the United Nations, and things of that sort.
SCHOENBAUM: Getting back to your work at the Operations Division under General00:10:00Lincoln, there are two legendary names there: George Marshall and John J. McCloy. Can you describe your working relations with those two?
DEAN RUSK: Well, I saw a good deal of Mr. McCloy, who was then the AssistantSecretary of the Army, because we would go to his office frequently for discussions and briefings and issues coming before the State/War/Navy Coordinating Committee. I did not see as much, personally, of George Marshall during that period because there were two officers in between me and George Marshall. There was General Lincoln, who was head of our section of the Operations Division, and then there was General [John E.] Hull, who was the overall Chief of the Operations Division. Typically, Hull or Lincoln would be 00:11:00the ones who would actually sit down with General Marshall. But I saw him on occasion, but not closely.
Then, in February of 1947--but first, after his aborted trip to China, GeorgeMarshall was asked by President [Harry S] Truman to become Secretary of State. As a matter of fact, in our little division of the Operations Division, we knew that Truman was asking him to take this job before George Marshll did because the cable communications between Marshall and the President came through our little section and we saw the outgoing cable asking him to be Secretary of State.
When Marshall became Secretary of State, he, in February of 1947, asked me to00:12:00come back to the State Department to become Chief of the Bureau of Special Political Affairs, in effect United Nations Affairs, as successor to Alger Hiss. Alger Hiss had left, I think, in December to become President of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. And Marshall asked me to come over and to take on that Bureau.
SCHOENBAUM: How did he ask you? Did he call you in his office or did you get aphone call from him? How did you get word of that, by letter or--Do you remember?
DEAN RUSK: I think the channel of communication was Ernest [Arnold] Gross withwhom I had served on the General Staff at the Pentagon and who had gone to the State Department. I think he was then working on occupations affairs. I heard about it from him. I don't recall that I actually interviewed George Marshall before I actually went to work in the State Department. I saw him frequently as 00:13:00soon as I did. He was Secretary of State at that time.
So, when I went in there and took on that Bureau, I found about 227 people inthat Bureau. And I had heard under the rug rumors about Alger Hiss and what some of his problems might have been. So when I took over that Bureau, I, like a former company commander, decided that I wanted an inventory of what it was I was taking over. And so I asked the Security Office in the State Department to give me a rundown of the members of my Bureau, and I recall very clearly that they gave me a complete bill of health of everybody in that Bureau. Later no one in that Bureau no one ever ran into problems on loyalty or security grounds. So whatever the truth might have been about Alger Hiss, it was clear to me that he 00:14:00had not stacked that section of the State Department with questionable characters. But, anyhow, I also felt that there were too many of us in there, that we were spending a awful lot of time writing and digesting memos to each other, and we were not getting much of a job done. So I took steps steadily to reduce the size of the Bureau. I think I brought it down to about 160, and I think we got more work done. I remember at the time, I asked the British how many people they had in the Foreign Office dealing with United Nations Affairs and they said, "Seven." I asked the Turks and they said they had one. Now the United States had played a major role in the actual launching of the United Nations and it was appropriate that we had staff working on various aspects of it, but I have always held the view that you don't just solve your problems by employing more people. And I think we were a much leaner and more effective 00:15:00organization when we were much smaller than we had been when we were much larger. But we had some very talented people in that Bureau of United Nations Affairs.
Secretary George Marshall had a very strong interest in the United Nations. Hehad a rather catholic view of the world situation. He was not concentrating on just on the North Atlantic and Western Europe as later Dean [Gooderham] Acheson and some others have been. So he spent a fair amount of time himself with United Nations Affairs and himself, personally, at the United Nations. Someday I hope to do an article on George Marshall as a teacher. He was a very great teacher of his colleagues on the public service and how it should be conducted, not only by his own personal example, but by the little remarks he would make that would be highly instructive in character. I could talk at some length about that aspect 00:16:00of him.
We all learned very quickly that he was a fanatic about the exactitude oflanguage. He, himself, kept a copy of Webster's Unabridged Dictionary right by his side at his desk and he was constantly thumbing through it to get exactly the right word. One of the first things I did for him when I joined him was a draft reply to a letter which he had just received. And my draft reply started out saying, "Dear Mr. Brown, I have read with much appreciation your letter such and such. I feel that--". And he stopped me right then. He said, "Now wait a minute, Rusk. In the first place I didn't appreciate his letter. I didn't appreciate it one damn bit. Now if you want to say "I received your letter"--okay, we'll say that. He said, '''I feel'? I don't have feelings about matters of public policy. If think it, let's say 'I think it.' I don't feel it." Everyone who worked for George Marshall probably has in his files some drafts 00:17:00with Marshall's own corrections on it. He had a great respect for the elegance, and simplicity, and accuracy of language.
Then another thing he used to do, which he brought over with him, I suspect,from his military experience, was an insistence that any recommendation we put to him should be put on one page because he said, "If you don't know how to do that, that means that you haven't thought enough about the problem." Now at times we would cheat by making these pages singled-spaced, and almost no margins. But then we could append to that all sorts of annexes or appendices giving him a chance to go into these matters in great detail. But he was very insistent that we get to the question, we concentrate on the real question and not chase off after foxes all over the countryside on things that were not really relevant.
Then he liked what he called "completed staff work." He wanted your00:18:00recommendation complete so that all he had to do was sign his name and things would begin to happen. Again, he would say, "If you haven't figured out how to do these things, you haven't thought enough about the problem." He was very insistent on that kind of disciplined thought about issues. If you had a difference with somebody else in the Department, he would not let you come to see him alone to discuss those differences with him. You'd have to bring the other fellows with whom you had the differences. The others had to be present at the same time. He had a very great respect for our constitutional system, for the Presidency, for the powers of the Congress. Although he had been a military man he was also a great civilian in his approach toward our constitutional system. He had a sardonic he was not a boisterous person in terms of humor, but 00:19:00he had a very sardonic sense of humor about him. For example, I flew with him in a plane from Washington to the United Nations once and we were on one of those old DC-3 aircraft. (unintelligible) sat across the aisle on this plane from each other. He reached in his briefcase and pulled out a prepared speech. He said, "Rusk, here's a speech they prepared for me to make up here at the United Nations. Tell me what you think of it." And just as soon as I started reading the speech, the plane itself got into a lot of turbulence and started pitching and rolling all over the place. Well, I happen to be a person who cannot read on a tossing airplane without getting airsick. So I handed this speech back to him and said, "Mr. Secretary, I'll take a look at this when we get to New York. If I read it now I'll get sick." And when he got to New York, without any further word to me he sent a telegram back to the Department saying, "Rusk says this speech makes him sick. Get me another one." So I was very popular in the State 00:20:00Department for a few days.
SCHOENBAUM: But he was a very good person to work for.
DEAN RUSK: Yes, but--
SCHOENBAUM: He was demanding?
DEAN RUSK: He always kept an arm's length with people that he worked with, notonly with those junior to him, but those (unintelligible). Once Franklin Roosevelt (unintelligible) in charge and he said, "It's General Marshall." He always called all of us by our last names, never by our first name because he felt that since it might be his duty to fire us the next (unintelligible) he did not want personal relationships to intrude upon the considerations of (unintelligible).
SCHOENBAUM: Isn't that the same office that you later occupied when you wereSecretary of State? Is that a different office?
DEAN RUSK: No, he was in what was then called the New State DepartmentBuilding, which was a building over on Twenty-First Street which had been (unintelligible) built for (unintelligible) engineers. But when (unintelligible) asked the State Department to go over and occupy this building, George Marshall 00:21:00(unintelligible). But when I got there the present new State Department had been completed just seven days before I arrived. My office was a different office.
SCHOENBAUM: A totally new office? And were you (unintelligible) at that timewhen you were at the Operations (unintelligible)?
DEAN RUSK: Well, in the Operations Division I was at the Pentagon, but when Icame back to the Bureau of United Nations -- I forget now which floor I was on but I was (unintelligible) the main building there.
DEAN RUSK: Well, the then New State Department, which was the old(unintelligible). But then when I started working for the (unintelligible) in'46 (unintelligible) Assistant Division Chief, we were still in the State/War/Navy Building.
DEAN RUSK: State/War/Navy Building, that Italian (unintelligible) buildingright next to the White House which now houses the Executive Office of the President. Before World War I that building housed the entire State Department, War Department, and Navy Department, Yeah, they were all in that one building. 00:22:00
SCHOENBAUM: And where did you live? In Washington?
DEAN RUSK: Well when I came back to Washington, we first lived in Clarendon,Virginia. We had a little house there. It's gone now. But then we lived in Park Fairfax and we stayed there until the Rockefeller Foundation.
SCHOENBAUM: At that (unintelligible)--Well it must be very different then thannow certainly. There was much less of an international (unintelligible)
DEAN RUSK: Well there was somewhat fewer people. There were not all those(unintelligible), and freeways, and things like that. It was a beautiful city. 00:23:00(unintelligible) because when someone (unintelligible) move in for the kill. And it's a beautiful city. When I first became--when I was the first Assistant Secretary of (unintelligible) Affairs. That appointment was (unintelligible). I moved from being Officer Director to Secretary shortly after Truman. And I was sworn in as Assistant Secretary (unintelligible). At that time there were (unintelligible) young to become an Assistant Secretary. There were only three of us in the Department. Now there are about twenty. (unintelligible)
SCHOENBAUM: But there were three Assistant Secretaries. That was'47?
DEAN RUSK: Forty-seven. February (unintelligible). No, wait --'49 when I becameAssistant Secretary. But (unintelligible) Assistant Secretaries at that time. But we continue to (unintelligible) in this country and the State Department (unintelligible) escape that. 00:24:00
SCHOENBAUM: Were there (unintelligible) to go to social functions(unintelligible) the usual Washington (unintelligible) at less of a burden?
DEAN RUSK: Not as Assistant Secretary for United Nations Affairs(unintelligible) caught up in a good many, but those who (unintelligible) were the different regional bureaus -- (unintelligible) Affairs, African Affairs--because they were the ones with the (unintelligible). But I had in the United Nations office until, oh, sometime in 1949 when I was still technically as (unintelligible) of Political Affairs. That was a title I was given, but still that of an Assistant Secretary. (unintelligible) was to try to (unintelligible) political polices of the Department because, you see, when you have (unintelligible). You have the (unintelligible) Office. And there were 00:25:00times when intimately these bureaus (unintelligible) particular questions because (unintelligible) relations with a particular questions because (unintelligible) relations with a particular set (unintelligible). So my job was to try to (unintelligible) and harmonize them (unintelligible) policy. And that (unintelligible) sweep involved me in most of the major (unintelligible). Then in (unintelligible) in his book I told him that (unintelligible) take on the job (unintelligible) Affairs I would be willing to do it. This was during the [Joseph Raymond] McCarthy period. The people in the State Department had been dealing under pretty heavy pressure. They were subject to a lot of criticism and (unintelligible) was a very little (unintelligible). For some reason I was never attacked by McCarthy.
SCHOENBAUM: You were involved in that (unintelligible).
DEAN RUSK: Sure. I have been told, understanding this, that some00:26:00(unintelligible) had gone to McCarthy and told him to leave me alone because they were both Republican and Democrat (unintelligible) deal with this because (unintelligible) and a number of things.
SCHOENBAUM: (unintelligible) you think?
DEAN RUSK: [John Foster] Dulles. He could (unintelligible). So I have been(unintelligible) untouched by McCarthyism and I took on the (unintelligible) that might give us a chance to (unintelligible) things out. (unintelligible) Far Eastern Affairs in the Spring of'41 to other personnel. One is the (unintelligible) Secretary that would bring John Foster Dulles to work on the possibilities (unintelligible). Some of the political (unintelligible) said to him, "Mr. President, you can't mean and (unintelligible)." Apparently Truman (unintelligible) understand politics. [In audible] time out every two years to 00:27:00be (unintelligible). But in between (unintelligible) us. And then we ask to become ambassadors (unintelligible) also other questions. This just came along at the same time (unintelligible) got into it (unintelligible)found that it was to (unintelligible) almost on every subject. But we just could not find a basis with the China question. Some of the Republicans (unintelligible). So then we gave John Foster Dulles (unintelligible) of negotiating the (unintelligible) State Department, Department of Defense (unintelligible) period of diminishing (unintelligible) fight the Korean War (unintelligible) include the occupation of Japan. And so we gave (unintelligible) negotiating that peace treaty. Now (unintelligible) treaty and gave Mr. Dulles (unintelligible) outlining the kind of treaty (unintelligible) wanted us to have with Japan. (unintelligible) treaty 00:28:00of reconciliation (unintelligible) move toward a period (unintelligible). So Dulles (unintelligible) to put the final stamp (unintelligible) negotiating such a treaty. All those involved (unintelligible) war against Japan (unintelligible) peace and reconciliation, (unintelligible) the Philippines, Thailand (unintelligible) toward the Japanese (unintelligible) ability of any (unintelligible). So each one of them (unintelligible). We didn't like the idea of (unintelligible) except us. So for the occupation of Japan (unintelligible) good footing. (unintelligible) relations with the Filipinos (unintelligible) the peace treaty. But we (unintelligible) and John Foster Dulles (unintelligible) and in harmony (unintelligible) is the backstop in the (unintelligible).
END OF SIDE 1
BEGINNING OF SIDE 2
DEAN RUSK: One of my jobs as John Foster Dulles' backstop was to brush aside00:29:00efforts made by all sorts of people in different agencies of the government to include this, or that, or the other kind of trivia in the Japanese Peace Treaty; and so to protect his rear and flanks while he worked out the very short, simple peace treaty that President Truman wanted him to conclude.
SCHOENBAUM: Now what do you mean by "brushing aside"?
DEAN RUSK: Well, you had all those stacks of papers prepared in the bureaucracyabout things that ought to go into the Japanese Peace Treaty, and those things would have made it a very long, complicated, difficult thing to work out. And Harry Truman didn't want that. He wanted a very simple nonpunitive kind of peace treaty. By the way, on that point let me say that although we had just come out of a very bitter war with the Japanese, I don't remember that while we were 00:30:00seeking this peace of reconciliation that we got letters, postcards, telerams from people objecting to that kind of peace. There was a public acceptance of that kind of peace treaty. Now we were determined, in view of our experience with Russia with regard to Germany, we were determined not to divide up Japan by giving Russia a zone of occupation in Japan. After all, they had only been in the war against Japan for about three days. They got a free ride on it. They came in just about the time of the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima. And when they came in they found that what we had all thought was an elite Japanese root army in Manchuria had largely been depleted to reinforce other Japanese positions in the Pacific, and that they had no significant opposition facing them up there.
In any event, we were determined not to give them a zone of occupation such asHokkaido or whatever they might have demanded. We were successful in that. I 00:31:00will confess something here that you probably won't find as such in the record anywhere. We were determined, when we went to the Japanese Peace Conference in San Francisco, not to let the Russians wreck it by making impossible demands and doing the things they had done to block a peace treaty with Germany. So we devised some very special Rules of Procedure which sometimes cause me to blush because of their outrageous character. We provided in the Rules of Procedure that we were convened in San Francisco for the purpose of adopting a specific draft treaty -- the one which had been worked out by Mr. Dulles. Now, when the conference convened, any effort made by the Russians, or the Czechs, or anyone 00:32:00else to propose amendments were ruled out of order by Dean Acheson who, as the host Foreign Minister, was proceeding on the grounds that the first order of business was the adoption of the agenda. So then when we adopted the agenda, such efforts were ruled out of order because the Rules of Procedure said that we were there to adopt this treaty. It took the Russians about three days to discover what had happened to them, and then they walked out. But those were outrageous Rules of Procedure from the point of view of any international conference. I had my share of hand in that.
But the Japanese Peace Conference in San Francisco was the first nationallytelevised event in the United States, coast to coast. By the way, Dean Acheson's popularity score rose very rapidly after that conference.
SCHOENBAUM: I was too young to remember the specific details, but I rememberwatching a part of that. And we knew it was an historic event. Even I, as a 00:33:00child, knew it was an historic event. You were active in devising procedure and advising. Did you deal with the Russians directly or other foreign governments directly?
DEAN RUSK: Dean Acheson was the presiding officer of the conference, but Mr.Dulles was the floor leader of the U. S. delegation on the floor of the conference. He had talked to the Russians about these peace treaty matters beforehand but was not able to get agreement on various points. But, he took the burden of most of the talks with other delegations, but I had quite a few myself.
SCHOENBAUM: How did you find the Russians? What Russians were you dealing with?00:34:00Do you remember?
DEAN RUSK: Well, Mr. [Andrei Andreevich] Gromyko was head of the Russiandelegation, and he had been their representative to the United Nations during the period when I was head of the United Nations Bureau. So I had had a good many conversations with him while he was their delegate to the United Nations. You see, in one capacity or another, I think I have attended some seventeen of the annual meetings of the U. N. General Assembly over the years.
SCHOENBAUM: What did you think of Mr. Gromyko at that time? Is that your firstencounter with him?
DEAN RUSK: He was a pretty effective professional diplomat who represented theattitudes of his own country with competence and, so far as I know, with accuracy, which meant that we had great difficulty in getting agreement with him. During his tour as their delegate at the United Nations, I remember once we 00:35:00chided him about the excessive use of the veto by the Soviet Union. remember one comment he made. He said, "You mark my words. There will come a day when you Americans will need that veto as much as we do." And we eventually got to that point.
You see, the abuse of the Russians of using the veto was a little excessivebecause in those days with eleven members of the Security Council, you only needed to deprive them of seven votes required to pass a motion. And so we usually, easily, would have the necessary votes to block whatever they wanted to do without using a veto. But they simply couldn't get the votes. Typically in 00:36:00those days the votes in the General Assembly and the Security Council were overwhelmingly -- they were very much in a minority. But those days have changed. No, I had had a number of conversations with Gromyko while I was in charge of United Nations Affairs in the State Department. I spent a good deal of time at the United Nations, running back and forth.
SCHOENBAUM: You have always had great respect for the United Nations as anorganization and you have always advocated that the United States should work with the United Nations.
DEAN RUSK: Well, I think that the United States has a very strong interest inan effective United Nations. If you want to see a succinct summary of the attitude of the United States toward the kind of community of nations we ought 00:37:00to have, one place you can find it would be in Articles I and II of the United Nations Charter. That is no accident, because we played a major role in the drafting of that Charter. So there was a congeniality between the long-term interests and policies of the United States and what appeared in the Charter to be the long range-tasks and policies of the United Nations. Now, the United Nations itself has changed dramatically over the years in many ways. When the United Nations was first organized it had a membership of fifty-one. And in 1945 they gave instructions to the architects as to the basis on which to plan the new headquarters there on the East River in New York. They told the architects to prepare for an expansion of membership to sixty with a possible expansion to 00:38:00seventy-five. Now you've got 158 members. I think we were somewhat surprised and somewhat disappointed by the disintegration of the colonial empires into such a large number of small states. We thought there would emerge a West African Confederation, and an East African Confederation, a West Indies Confederation, so that the units that were members of the U.N. would be much smaller than turned out to be the case. But all these areas just broke up into tiny little pieces. In recent years we have been taking into the United Nations new members with the population of Athens, Georgia, with the same vote in the General Assembly that we have. Now, ten percent of the world's population and less than one percent of the financial contributions to the U. N. can now cast two-thirds 00:39:00of the votes in the U.N. General Assembly, which is a major change in the situation than we knew in the earlier years. We gave some thought and raised in the United Nations about some such concept as associate members, where the smaller countries could join the United Nations as associate members. They would have a full opportunity to speak their views in the U.N., but would not have a vote and would not pay dues. But by that time, countries like Iceland and Luxembourg were already charter members of the U.N. and these smaller countries would not accept that kind of... Of course, the League of Nations had refused to give membership to Liechtenstein on the basis of too small and too few people. But now there may be another fifteen or twenty of these tiny members coming down the track one way or another. 00:40:00
SCHOENBAUM: Can we talk about your relations with President Truman? WasPresident Truman the first President you saw and worked for in person?
DEAN RUSK: I had done a number of things indirectly for President Rooseveltduring the war, but President Truman was the first President that I knew personally and saw reasonably frequently. You see, I was about the fourth ranking officer in the Department of State in those days, and there were times when the others above me would be away and I would be the one to see the President on whatever was coming up. I attended some Cabinet meetings, for example, and things like that. He was an extraordinary President. Fortunately for all of us, he had had a lifetime avocation of reading about American 00:41:00Presidents, even while he was a haberdasher in Kansas City. And he knew more about the other Presidents and the precedents of the office than anybody I have ever encountered. He used to say that President [James Knox] Polk was his favorite President. It caused a number of us to scurry around to try to find out why. I suspect it was because President Polk was in the habit of telling the Congress to go to hell on foreign policy matters. But Truman was very sensitive about the Office of the President. At the time that he fired General [Douglas] MacArthur, I remember his saying, "There are a million Americans who can be President as well as I can, but God damn it I am President and I am going to give it all I've got. I am not going to pass this office along to my successor with its prerogatives impaired by an American general."
He was very sensitive on matters of protocol. Of course, it was death for00:42:00anybody to say anything that sounded like a slur about any member of his family: his wife Bess [Wallace Truman] or his daughter [Mary] Margaret [Truman].
But he had a happy facility for making decisions. Most decisions that come tothe President have no good answer. If they have got an easy answer they would be handled down the line long before they got to the President. So, the President is constantly faced with very tough matters of judgment and decisions. Also, most foreign policy questions have locked into them dozens and dozens of secondary and tertiary questions. It's like a heap of jackstraws where the different factors are all in a heap pointing in different directions, cutting across each other. Well Harry Truman would take the full briefing, listen to it carefully, hear of all the complications and contradictions involved in the problem, and then he would look at that stack of jackstraws and decide which 00:43:00element to him seemed to be the critical element. And he would pull that jackstraw out of the pile and make his decision and go home and go to sleep and never look back. He had that necessary facility for over simplification at the moment of decision. Now this is something that a President has to have. You think of a man like Adlai [Ewing] Stevenson [III], for example, so imaginative, so intelligent; he could see the disadvantages of any line of action. So he found it very difficult to come to a conclusion. Adlai Stevenson used to complain about getting so many instructions from the Department of State, but I never saw anybody who was more happy to get them.
SCHOENBAUM: This is sort of off the subject, but do you think [John Fitzgerald]Kennedy had that same facility as Truman or was he more like Stevenson?
DEAN RUSK: Kennedy had many of the intellectual characteristics of an Adlai00:44:00Stevenson, but he also had the ability to face the moment of decision and realize that a decision had to be made so that he didn't quite go as far as Adlai Stevenson in that respect.
SCHOENBAUM: Do you think that Kennedy would have become the same kind ofPresident with the greatness aura that President Truman has now had he lived?
DEAN RUSK: I think so. l think he would have rated as a very great Presidenthad he lived and served out a second term. You see, Kennedy was much more cautious during his term in the White House than many people remember him as being because he did not think that he had received a mandate from the American people in the election of 1960. He was elected by only a few tens of thousands of votes. He used to say "Cook County, Illinois." I remember once, after the tragedy of the Bay of Pigs, he said once with the wry smile, "I think I'll ask 00:45:00for a recount in Cook County -- But Kennedy was very careful about selecting the issues on which to do battle, particularly to do battle with the Congress. He said, "If you are going to have a fight, have a fight about something. Don't have a fight about nothing." Had he lived and been reelected with a stronger majority in 1964, then I think he would have been more bold in his proposals to Congress on a good many matters. You see, circumstances have a lot to do with what kind of President we are going to have. Harry Truman was the most improbable man to become President, yet he became President at a time when tremendous demands were being placed upon him to bring us out of the war, to get the postwar world organized, to launch the United Nations, to do something about the complete disorder in the economies of Europe, and things of that sort so 00:46:00that he had the personal qualities to be able to rise to the occasion and meet the requirements of the office. And I think for that we can all be grateful. I must say, in my own judgment, I don't think that anyone, literally anyone, is qualified in advance to be President. The question is whether or not he or she has the inner qualities to allow the job to make a President out of them and that's true of all of them that I have seen and observed.
SCHOENBAUM: That's true as Secretary of State too.
DEAN RUSK: I suppose. Well, I think it is a miracle that anyone ever stepsforward to want to be President of the United States. From a personal point of view, it is the worst job in the world. I am grateful to those who try, but I have not quite come to the conclusion that anyone who seeks the office is 00:47:00automatically disqualified because it proves that he doesn't understand the office. But I am awfully close to that point of view.
SCHOENBAUM: Can we talk about the creation of Israel just in the time remainingand what your role was?
DEAN RUSK: Well, I was very much involved in the creation of Israel because itwas a matter before the United Nations and I was head of the United Nations Office in the State Department. President Truman was somewhat schizophrenic about Israel. He was passionately committed to the idea of a homeland for the Jews and in Palestine. The impact of the holocaust on him had been really very great indeed, and so he had a very strong commitment in that direction. At the 00:48:00same time, he wanted very much to see some sort of solution out there with which both the Jews and the Arabs could live. Now these two strong views of his caused him at times to appear contradictory to those on one side or the other. But he wanted George Marshall, the Secretary of State, to do what he could to work out an arrangement out there that would not simply lead to a succession of wars. This is one of the reasons why some people in the Department of State, like Loy [Wesley] Henderson, were branded by the Jewish lobby and others as being hostile to Israel, because there were people there who weren't giving 100 percent to support to all the claims of the Zionists at that time. 00:49:00
But, Truman and the British could not work things out. As a matter of fact,Truman pressed the British very hard and the British, somewhat in irritation but also because they didn't know what else to do, put the matter before the United Nations. And the United Nations worked at it and they organized a commission to go out there to make a recommendation. And the commission came back with the recommendation for the partition of Palestine between a Jewish and an Arab state, and there was a very intense debate in the U.N. General Assembly on that issue. I have never known an issue which was so emotional, where there was such high state of feeling on all sides, as on that issue before the U. N. General Assembly.
President Truman decided that we should support the Partition Plan although it00:50:00had many elements which the Zionists did not like. They wanted much more extensive arrangements for the State of Israel. But as we neared the date which the British had announced as the termination of their mandate in Palestine, regardless of circumstances, it appeared that the two sides were not going to accept the Partition Plan, and so we set about trying to find some kind of political and military standstill to take effect at the time of the British withdrawal to try to get more time to try to find an agreement which people could live with. At one point during that period we raised the question of U.N. trusteeship for the Palestine mandate, but that just raised hell with the Zionist groups. That had been approved by President Truman. He approved the idea 00:51:00that we should And then just before the expiration of the British mandate, he and Secretary Marshall asked me to undertake very private and discreet negotiations between the Arabs and the then so-called Zionists to see if we could get agreement by them for a political and military standstill at the moment of the expiration of the British mandate.
I conducted those discussions up in the old Savoy Plaza Hotel in New York. TheArab delegations were down at one end of the hall, and the Zionists were at the other end of the hall, and I had a suite half way between and I would shuttle back and forth. And we worked out most of the points that would be relevant to a standstill except for the rate of Jewish immigration into Palestine during the standstill. So we finally got the Zionist side to agree to 2500 a month, which 00:52:00was a very low figure under the then circumstance. So I went down to the other end of the hall and put this figure to the Arab side. I remember then Prince Faisal, who was sort of the head of the Arab delegations - later became King Faisal - -said to me, "That's impossible, impossible. If we were to agree to 2500 they would simply bring in 2500 pregnant women and that would make 5,000." But about that same moment, Secretary George Marshall down in Washington, with a slip of the tongue, referred to some reporters to these talks going on in New York. Well at that moment, the talks were dead because the constituencies on the two sides would not even accept the idea that such talks should even be occurring. And even the reporters expressed regret that Marshall had made this slip of the tongue. But that was the end of that. Anyhow, that illustrates the 00:53:00concern that Truman had to try to find some way, some sort of solution with which both sides could live.
Then in the special session of the General Assembly when the Partition Plan wasadopted-- that was adopted only by the necessary one or two votes required for the two - thirds vote-- there again was an illustration of the importance of Rules of Procedure and the need for people to have a good lawyer at their elbows. In that session we had counted noses pretty carefully in the assembly and we knew that if the Arab side simply made a motion to adjourn that they had the votes, the bare majority votes, to adjourn the assembly without a decision. So Mr. [Camille] Chamoun, the Arab floor leader, went to the podium and moved for adjournment and in our delegation it was thought, "Oh, God, now we've had 00:54:00it." But then to our amazement he added a second paragraph to his motion to establish a commission to do this, that, or the other. Well, that transferred that motion into an "important question" which required a two thirds vote rather than a simple majority, and so he did not have the two thirds vote. So we were able to defeat that motion and then proceed finally with a narrow squeak to a
SCHOENBAUM: If he had not made that mistake, perhaps the U.N., at least at thattime, would not have voted the Partition Plan...
DEAN RUSK: Would not have voted the Partition Plan at that session. Then at themoment of the declaration of the provisional State of Israel and immediate U.S. recognition, I happened to be sitting in my office at the State Department and I got a telephone call from Clark [McAdams] Clifford at the White House. He said that the President wanted me to call you to let you know that the State of Israel will be declared at six o'clock --That was about fifteen minutes later -- and that the United States will recognize the State of Israel immediately. And I 00:55:00said, "But look, that cuts across everything that we have been trying to do at the United Nations in recent days on the instruction of President Truman and the people at the United Nations will wonder what's going on around here." He said, "Nevertheless, that is the instruction of the President, and he wants you to call our delegation in New York and inform them."
So I called Warren [Robinson] Austin, our chief delegate up there, who was onthe floor of the assembly and got him off the floor of the assembly and told him what was about to happen. And so he, instead of going back to tell the rest of the delegation on the floor, simply went home. Well, then about three minutes past six o'clock, a delegate came shouting down the aisle of the General Assembly waving a piece of paper, and he went to the podium and read a ticker tape flash that the State of Israel had been declared and that President Truman had recognized it, and he called on the American delegation for an explanation. 00:56:00Well, in the delegation at that moment were Philip [C. ] Jessup and Mr. Francis [B.] Sayre. Well Philip Jessup, a very astute fellow, simply left to telephone Washington to find out what in the heck was going on. Francis Sayre, not being as astute and not all that bright, went to the podium and in effect scratched his head and said he didn't know. Well, in a few minutes Phil Jessup who had called and found out the truth, went back to the Assembly, and went to the podium, and read that press ticker, and confirmed that it was in fact the truth. Now, Warren Austin in going home made the judgment that it was better for the United States and the U. S. Delegation up there to make it very clear to everybody that this was a Presidential decision in Washington and that the U.S. Delegation had not been around there trying to hoodwink everybody all this time. And so he simply went home. But there was absolute pandemonium in the Assembly 00:57:00at that moment. I remember a staff officer of the American delegation had to go over and physically sit on the lap of a Cuban delegate to prevent him from going to the podium and withdrawing Cuba from the United Nations. Well about twenty minutes past six o'clock I got a call in my office in Washington --the State Department --and George Marshall said, "Rusk, get up there to New York and see if you can prevent our delegation from resigning en masse." So I hopped on the next plane and went up there; and by the time I got there, things had begun to cool off a little and they did not resign en masse. But this really pulled the rug out from under
SCHOENBAUM: Why did the White House make that decision? Why did PresidentTruman make that decision so precipitously then?
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