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Rusk LLL, Walt Whitman Rostow, Part 2, January 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:16 - Soviet soccer anecdote / Working for Lyndon Johnson

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Partial Transcript: Okay. Continue with your story about this soccer game.

Segment Synopsis: Rostow talks about President Johnson's professionalism, stating that he only recalled Johnson becoming explosive after leaks from his staff. Rostow discusses how President Johnson managed perceptions and media coverage of the Vietnam War.

Keywords: LBJ; White House; press

00:06:53 - Tuesday luncheons with Johnson and Rsuk

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Partial Transcript: If I may, I'd like to ask you about the Tuesday lunches.

Segment Synopsis: Rostow describes the environment of and Dean Rusk's contributions to Johnson's Tuesday luncheon meetings. He mentions that Rusk would sometimes meet with the president after lunch to discuss issues privately and in greater detail.

Keywords: ; Eisenhower; Kennedy

00:10:28 - Comparing Rostow, Rusk, and LBJ on the use of force in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: Every human being has certain failings or weaknesses in either their character or their performance.

Segment Synopsis: Rostow contrasts his opinion that the U.S. should have acted more decisively early in the Vietnam War with Dean Rusk's cautious approach, which Rostow claims may have been tempered by Rusk's work during the Korean War. Rostow discusses Lyndon Johnson's book and Johnson's later opinion that he had used too little force against Vietnam.

Keywords: 17th parallel; China; LBJ; Russia; bombing; estimates; intelligence

00:18:23 - Rusk as a Secretary of State and department leader

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Partial Transcript: I'd like to return to Vietnam after this next question.

Segment Synopsis: Rostow explains Dean Rusk's understanding of the Secretary of State's role within the executive branch and praises Rusk's leadership. Rostow recalls working on the Inter-American Committee on the Alliance for Progress.

Keywords: Constitution; ICAP; Johnson; Kennedy; Warren Cohen; vice presidency

00:24:16 - Varied accounts of the peace process in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: I have a question about the Tet Offensive and the aftermath of Tet.

Segment Synopsis: Rostow discusses President Johnson's account of the Vietnam peace process in The Vantage Point, which he claims is more accurate than the accounts of White House adviser Clark Clifford or Assistant Secretary of Defense Townsend Hoopes. Rostow chronicles the lead-up and aftermath of the Tet Offensive and describes Rusk's proposal to stop bombing.

Keywords: ; Townsend Hoopes; Warren Cohen; deescalation; intelligence; negotiation; troops

00:35:20 - Command decision-making / Political ideals / Southeast Asia

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Partial Transcript: What happens when policymakers lead a country into combat and head down that trail with everything that war entails: loss of life, destruction, human suffering on a mass scale?

Segment Synopsis: Rostow considers the stress Dean Rusk may have undergone while making wartime decisions, and he describes his own ideas of "just" war as a democratic socialist. Rostow talks about the strategic importance of Southeast Asia and says that an earlier strike by the U.S. could have prevented the full war that eventually occurred in Vietnam. He also ponders the effect of the Vietnam War on the establishment of ASEAN and the region's balance of power.

Keywords: Asia; Association of Southeast Asian Nations; China; UN; United Nations; democratic socialism; pacifism; socialism

00:46:08 - Anti-war student movement / Dean Rusk's performance in office

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Partial Transcript: I grew up during the sixties, and went to Cornell during the late sixties...

Segment Synopsis: Rostow sympathizes with young people who stood opposed to the Vietnam War, mentioning concerns about the draft and the splitting political establishment. He talks about Secretary of State Dean Rusk's view of the office as well as Rusk's preference for diplomacy over violent intervention.

Keywords: activism; student radicals; university