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Rusk OO, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk, Thomas Schoenbaum, and William Bundy, Part 3, 1985 February

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:06 - Vietnam War justifications / Media representation during the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: On that Monday night, then, that the Senate was informed about them...

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk speaks about justifications for military aggression, drawing parallels between a North Vietnamese attack and the German invasion of Norway. Rusk also shares his belief in the constitutionality of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. Rusk and William Bundy then discuss the possible misrepresentation of the Vietnam War to the American people.

Keywords: 34A raids; American ground forces; Gulf of Tonkin Incidents; Nuremberg; SEATO; Senator Gruening; Senator Morse; Southeast Asia Treaty Organization; United States Constitution; Vietnam; combat forces; relative credibility; wartime powers of Congress

00:04:38 - Credibility Gap

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Partial Transcript: One of the major, I think the major, question of credibility in Vietnam was Lyndon Johnson's pre-election statements as opposed to his performance two or three months later.

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk and Bundy discuss the perceived disconnect between Johnson's statements to the public and his escalation of the Vietnam War. They debate whether the misconception was caused by media or governmental misrepresentation.

Keywords: American combat forces in Vietnam; James Fulbright; President Lyndon B. Johnson; Robert McNamara; Robert Trumbull; Vietnam War escalation; Warren Cohen; campaign promises; media relations

00:11:22 - Public opinion on the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: And then there was a brief period in June when we looked at the possibility that the President should go to Congress with some kind of a resolution.

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk, Richard Rusk, and Bundy talk about President Johnson's perceived stance on the Vietnam War and how it affected voting in the 1964 presidential election.

Keywords: Barry Goldwater; South Vietnam; Theodore Harold White; Vietnam War; nuclear weapons; public opinion on Vietnam War; reelection of Lyndon B. Johnson

00:14:33 - President Johnson as Commander-in-Chief

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Partial Transcript: And the gut point, Dean, which I think you implied but I think it would help to have the answer on the record--

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk and Bundy discuss the president's strategy and reactions to North Vietnamese attacks on American forces.

Keywords: Aleutian Islands; Bien Hoa Air Base attack; George Ball; Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; Maxwell Taylor; Pentagon Papers; bombing of North Vietnam

00:20:08 - American ground troops in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: And then can we talk about the actual introduction of American combat troops

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk, Richard Rusk, and Bundy discuss the major increase in American troops in Vietnam. They also debate the level of President Johnson's transparency on this escalation in Vietnam. Additionally, Bundy brings up the possibility that Johnson's policy was related to his desire to create the Great Society.

Keywords: Congressional relations; President Franklin Delano Roosevelt; President Lyndon B. Johnson; Richard Russell; Vietnam War; media relations; troop movements

00:26:21 - Change in American opinion on the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: You see, we had strong support in the Congress at this time.

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk shares his views on the extent that the American people should be involved in wartime decision-making. Then, Dean Rusk, Richard Rusk, and Bundy discuss the loss of American support of the Vietnam War.

Keywords: Commander-in-Chief; Vietnam War support; policy of gradualism; stalemate; television media

00:31:01 - Gulf of Tonkin Resolution / American troop increase to Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: There's one point that I might mention here--

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk discusses President Johnson's decision to not send the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to Congress for a yearly review and the attempt by Senator Wayne Morse to rescind the resolution (he was one of only two Senators to vote against it). Additionally, he talks about the various criticisms the Johnson Administration received surrounding the Vietnam War. Then, Dean Rusk and Bundy discuss the 1965 increase in American ground troop presence in Vietnam, analyzing the pros and cons of President Johnson's options and the effects on South Vietnam.

Keywords: Armed Services Committee; George Ball; John McNaughton; Robert McNamara; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Southeast Asia; United States Army Reserve; Vietnam War escalation; William Westmoreland; congressional relations

00:38:41 - Invading North Korea / American relationship with the South Vietnamese Army

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Partial Transcript: Did the South Vietnamese regime ever request the introduction of American ground forces in a major way?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk and Bundy discuss the South Vietnamese leaders and their views on American intervention in the war, focusing on the possibility of American forces helping South Vietnam invade North Vietnam. They also speak about the frequency with which the American troops in Vietnam utilized the local forces.

Keywords: Colonialism; French Colonial War; Ho Chi Minh Trail; Ngo Dinh Diem; Nguyen Khanh; Secretary George Marshall; Southeast Asia Treaty Organization; Vietcong; nuclear war

00:44:47 - Dean Rusk's summary

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Partial Transcript: Is this a good place to quit?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk summarizes the topics discussed, intending to raise questions on issues including America's casual entry into the Southeast Asia Treaty, gradual escalation of the Vietnam War, and low level of censorship.

Keywords: WW2; WWII; World War 2; World War II; fake media; government censorship; gradualism; propaganda; wartime media; yellow journalism

00:49:42 - Reasons that America did not win the Vietnam War

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Segment Synopsis: Bundy reflects on a speech he gave at West Point, giving three points to answer why America did not win the Vietnam War. He focuses mainly on alternative military and diplomatic strategies. Later, Dean Rusk adds that one key problem was the disunity of command in Vietnam.

Keywords: 1964 Presidential Election; CINCPAC; Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet; General Westmoreland; Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; Joint Chiefs of Staff; Laos; President Lyndon B. Johnson; Vietnamese society; seventeenth parallel; static defenses