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Rusk NNN, Kenneth W. Thompson, Part 1, 1985 January

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:19 - Rusk's relationships at the Rockefeller Foundation

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Partial Transcript: Explain how you knew my dad.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes Dean Rusk's leadership at the Rockefeller Foundation, stating that he was considerate and had a way of drawing out colleagues' full potential by entrusting them with complex questions. Thompson explains that Rusk recruited the best candidates and was never threatened by their qualifications or egos, but instead facilitated discussion of their bright ideas.

Keywords: Joseph Willits; confidence; leadership; respect

00:07:56 - Dean Rusk v. Arthur Schlesinger

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Partial Transcript: He was criticized later as Secretary for not providing a forceful, effective leadership in foreign affairs.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson refutes Arthur Schlesinger's critiques of Dean Rusk. He describes a debate between the two men and claims Schlesinger may have held a grudge because Rusk refused Schlesinger's request for funding of a history project. Thompson says that Rusk was "an initiator of new directions," promoting equal opportunity and work with developing countries.

Keywords: American Historical Society; funds

00:12:11 - Rusk's recruiting mistakes / Rusk's intelligence and oration

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Partial Transcript: But one other thing your father did which I always thought was a mistake...

Segment Synopsis: Thompson describes some of the academics Rusk recruited to the Rockefeller Foundation as being qualified but hungry for personal fame. He praises Rusk's natural command of language and explains that Rusk's caution in publishing may have hidden his brilliance.

Keywords: Bill Rogers; Brzezinski; Council on Foreign Relations; Cyrus Vance; Dick Gardner; George Marshall; Roger Hilsman; speeches

00:20:04 - Rusk's presidency of the Rockefeller Foundation / Rusk's decision-making process

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Partial Transcript: Getting back to Dean Rusk as an administrator at the Foundation.

Segment Synopsis: Thompson explains that as a leader, Rusk was patient and supportive with subordinates. Thompson compares Rusk to other Rockefeller presidents and discusses the levels of support Dean Rusk enjoyed from different groups within the Foundation. He says that Rusk would look over each problem quickly and come back to one when he had a new idea.

Keywords: administration; expansion; interpersonal; problem-solving

00:29:00 - Thompson and Rusk's friendship

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Partial Transcript: Did you know him best at the Foundation of all the people he worked with?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson comments on Dean Rusk's lack of desire to be appointed to government positions or travel to Washington, D.C. Thompson explains that Rusk did not reveal emotion often, but that he would share professional concerns and give thoughtful advice. He mentions that Rusk established a poker club with colleagues from the Rockefeller Foundation in Scarsdale, New York.

Keywords: humility; personal relationships; personality

00:37:06 - Congressional testimonies / John Rockefeller III

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Partial Transcript: You joined the Foundation in what year?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson mentions the congressional testimonies that Dean Rusk gave on behalf of the Rockefeller Foundation. He discusses disagreements between the Rockefeller family and the Rockefeller Foundation over fund allocations.

Keywords: George Harrar; IPR; Laurance Spelman Rockefeller; Reese Subcommittee; demography; environment; exemptions; funding; hearings; lawyers; population

00:44:03 - The Foundation after Dean Rusk / Rusk's ability to engage

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Partial Transcript: While we are on this subject, can you recall anyone else that might have some insight on my dad at the Foundation?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson talks about other personnel at the Rockefeller Foundation and compliments Rusk's ability to make introductions, facilitate conversation between prestigious individuals, and pique young people's interest in political issues.

Keywords: Flora Rhind; networks; social life; youth

00:51:14 - Rusk, Rockefeller, and the government

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Partial Transcript: How much contact did my dad have, that you were aware of, with John Foster Dulles of the Eisenhower Administration?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson reveals some of Rusk's political contacts and recalls being enthusiastic about Rusk's appointment as Secretary of State. Thompson mentions Rusk's contributions to the U.S. foreign policy agenda with respect to the Test Ban Treaty, Vietnam, and political science research. He also says that Rusk held foreign policy discussions with colleagues at his house, and that he insisted upon keeping Rockefeller associates' opinions and government relations private.

Keywords: Allen Dulles; CIA; Scarsdale; Vietnam War; diplomacy

01:00:07 - Rusk on religion

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Partial Transcript: Did he ever discuss religion with you?

Segment Synopsis: Thompson speculates about Rusk's religious views, saying that Rusk believed in providence and a diety. Thompson also says that Rusk encouraged him to write about ethics, religion, and moral political philosophy, in addition to his work with the Rockefeller Foundation.

Keywords: beliefs; philosophy; theism