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Rusk GGG, Alexander Meigs Haig, March 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:52 - Experiences with Dean Rusk throughout career

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Partial Transcript: [My father] has told me that he had very few actual contacts with you during all this time...

Segment Synopsis: Haig talks about his relationship with Dean Rusk throughout Haig's career, including his time in the Defense Department, at West Point, and serving in the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Gulf of Tonkins; Henry Kissinger; JFK; John Crimmons; John F. Kennedy task forces; Johnson Administration; Latin American Bureau; State Department; Vietnam War; counter-insurgency; disengagement

00:05:51 - Praise of Dean Rusk

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Partial Transcript: How did he impress you?

Segment Synopsis: Haig discusses the reasons that he admires Dean Rusk. He focuses his praise on Rusk's policy-making, articulateness, and relationship with President Lyndon B. Johnson. Haig also briefly compares Rusk with Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara.

Keywords: Fulbright Hearings; James William Fulbright; Multilateral Force; NATO Alliance; The North Atlantic Treaty Organization; Vietnam War; anti-organization

00:16:47 - The Gulf of Tonkin incident

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Partial Transcript: You're giving me one of the better interviews I've had.

Segment Synopsis: Haig discusses the Gulf of Tonkin incident, sharing his suspicions that it was a misjudgment due to new technology rather than an attack by North Vietnam. He also briefly discusses the communication abilities of Rusk and President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Keywords: Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; U.S. Southeast Asia policy; U.S. intelligence; USS Maddox; Vietnam War

00:21:28 - Criticism of U.S. policy during the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: And your father and I might differ on what we should have done in Vietnam.

Segment Synopsis: Haig criticizes the U.S. policy of gradualism during the Vietnam War. He shares his view that if the U.S had mobilized the country immediately, there would have been no war. Haig also briefly discusses China's desire for the U.S. to win the Vietnam War and retain a military presence in Southeast Asia.

Keywords: Communism; Domino Theory; Korean War; North Vietnam; People's Republic of China; U.S. Intelligence; U.S. intervention

00:27:45 - Experience with gradualism as a field commander / Influence of military service on Rusk's Vietnam War policy

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Partial Transcript: Did that bother you as a field commander in Vietnam?

Segment Synopsis: Haig talks about his time as a field commander in Vietnam, explaining how this experience reinforced his criticism of gradualism. Later, Haig discusses how Rusk's military service in WW2 shaped his outlook and policy during the Vietnam War. He also considers briefly how the policy of gradualism evolved throughout U.S. military history.

Keywords: Cuban Missile Crisis; Gulf of Tonkin; Korean War; Vietnam War; WWII; World War 2; World War II; spectrum of conflict

00:34:44 - Criticism of U.S. draft / Effect of wartime casualties on leaders

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Partial Transcript: And another thing that I didn't like was the way we exercised the draft.

Segment Synopsis: Haig discusses the flaws of different models of the draft that the U.S. has used, focusing his criticism on the student deferment system. Later, Haig talks about the impact of wartime casualties on leaders. He compares the effects of the Vietnam War on Rusk and McNamara.

Keywords: David Halberstam; Soviet Union; gradualism; professional army; psychology of command decision-making; volunteer army

00:41:56 - Military preparation for psychological weight of service

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Partial Transcript: Within the military perhaps with the war college, or within the military training programs are officers who are in command of field units...

Segment Synopsis: Haig shares how the culture of military schools prepares officers for the psychological price of wartime decision-making. He stresses the importance of one's individual conscience. He also briefly applies this to his own experiences as Secretary of State.

Keywords: President Ronald Reagan; bureaucracy; military ethic; military training; psychology of command decision-making

00:47:57 - Disagreement with public perception of Rusk / Contact with Rusk after Rusk's retirement

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Partial Transcript: I raised that question about truth and loyalty because some of the critics of my father suggested that in too many issues he was for too long the good soldier.

Segment Synopsis: Haig discusses the negative publicity surrounding Rusk because of his involvement with the Vietnam War. He shares the reasons he disagrees with these assessments, focusing on Rusk's character and tenacity. Later, he talks about his relationship with Rusk after Rusk's retirement, listing the ways that Rusk has supported him.

Keywords: Southern Democrats; Star Wars; Strategic Defense Initiative; U.S. Latin American policy; ant-Vietniks; chain of command

00:53:42 - Reported efforts to alter nuclear weapons protocol / Effect of fatigue on leaders

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Partial Transcript: When you were Chief of Staff for President Nixon, I understand there was an effort made to deactivate the nuclear firing trigger...

Segment Synopsis: Haig discusses reports from the Nixon presidency that attempts were made to change the nuclear firing trigger protocol. He claims these were falsely made due to a misleading press briefing. Later, Haig talks about the effects of fatigue on leaders' crisis-management and decision-making abilities.

Keywords: U.S. press coverage; Watergate scandal; nuclear weapons; psychology of command decision-making