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Rusk LLLLL, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk and Thomas Schoenbaum, 1985 November 12

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:14 - Selecting a site for negotiations / Participants in the Paris Peace Talks

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Partial Transcript: Pop, we spent quite a bit of time talking about the Tet offensive and the policy review after the Tet offensive.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about attempts to begin negotiating peace after the Tet Offensive, noting that many of the proposed meeting points were unacceptable to one side or the other. Rusk says that he and President Johnson were against meeting in Paris due to disagreements with French President Charles de Gaulle. Rusk discusses representation and bargaining power at the Paris Peace Talks, mentioning that South Veitnamese President Thieu did not want to participate because he expected a better outcome under candidate Nixon.

Keywords: Couve de Murville; France; SEATO; Southeast Asia Treaty; Thieu

00:08:14 - Looking for a way out of Vietnam / Supposed peace offers from North Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: And I felt, myself, that we had to get out of Vietnam...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains that policymakers perceived a chance to get out of Vietnam after the Tet Offensive, despite sticking to insistence upon a negotiated settlement. He discusses communications and miscommunications with North Vietnam, warning about the dangers of intermediaries like U Thant.

Keywords: negotiation; peaceful settlements

00:14:12 - The U.S. delegation to Paris / South Vietnam's reluctance to settle

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Partial Transcript: Pop, maybe we can get you to comment on the selection of the American delegation...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about U.S. delegates to the Paris Peace Talks, mentioning Lewellyn Thompson, Averell Harriman, and Cyrus Vance. He explains that the U.S. could not force President Thieu to make agreements, and that the Nixon campaign may have encouraged him not to negotiate.

Keywords: Anna Chennault; Cy Vance; Ellsworth Bunker; Johnson; Spiro Agnew; election

00:23:17 - Humphrey's 1968 presidential campaign

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Partial Transcript: My own hunch is that if the campaign had gone about three more days, Hubert Humphrey would have won.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the 1968 Hubert Humphrey campaign, including President Johnson's view of Humphrey's candidacy and Rusk's surprise at Humphrey's practicality. Rusk comments on the expense and difficulty of administrating Johnson's Great Society programs.

Keywords: DNC; Democratic National Convention; Great society; Johnson; budget; social programs

00:29:12 - Difficulty bringing Thieu to the table / Contrasting Vietnam and Korea

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Partial Transcript: Let us get back to that point of contention between you and the American delegation.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains that ambassador Ellsworth Bunker could not force South Vietnam to appear in Paris despite the country's economic dependence on the U.S. Rusk contrasts Vietnam and Korea in terms of Russian and Chinese influences and goals in the two areas.

Keywords: Bunker; Geneva; Glassboro; Harriman; Ho Chi Minh; Laos Accords of 1962; Maoism; Nixon; Soviet Union; Thieu; Vance; communism; foreign aid

00:39:14 - Causes and alternative outcomes of the Vietnam War / Reducing aid to South Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: What do these developments suggest for the American policy in Southeast Asia?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk cites SEATO obligations and collective security concerns as the causes for U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Rusk considers whether the U.S. and South Vietnam would have gotten a more favorable settlement earlier in the war and states the Johnson wanted to end the war before leaving office. He evaluates the impact of cutting aid to South Vietnam in the mid-70s, noting the state's losses in material advantage and morale.

Keywords: China; Congress; Kennedy; bargaining; expansionism; foreign aid; negotiated settlement; negotiation; resources

00:45:31 - Approved operations in Cambodia and Laos / Prince Sihanouk

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Partial Transcript: Did Nixon make a fundamental blunder when he extended the war to Cambodia?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about expanding the Vietnam War to Cambodia and Laos, claiming that their governments gave secret approval for U.S. activities. He claims that he was honest about war activities and discusses his brother-in-law Jack Foisie's controversial reporting. Rusk describes Cambodia's former Prince Sihanouk and the Laos Accords, and he expresses disapproval of the regime that followed Sihanouk.

Keywords: Geneva Conference; Ho Chi Minh; Nixon; Parrot's Beak; SEATO; Thailand; Thanat Khoman; press; protocol state

00:53:52 - Using Agent Orange / Factors preventing the end of the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: I was going to bring up the defoliation of South Vietnamese to uncover the Ho Chi Minh Trail.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about the defoliation of the Ho Chi Minh trail, which helped the U.S. locate target combatants for bombing. He claims that the extent of defoliation that occurred was not approved, and that he was unaware of the effects Agent Orange could have on humans and on the environment in the long term. Rusk briefly comments on the Paris delegation, the transition period between Presidents Johnson and Nixon, and the possibility of North Vietnam negotiating toward peace in the late 60s.

Keywords: Operation Ranch Hand; bombing; chemical warfare; communism; herbicidal warfare; litigation