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Rusk PP, Interview with Dean Rusk and William Bundy, February 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:09:50 - Bombing strategy in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: But you hark back, and you must do this Dean, in your own knowledge of General Marshall and the way the Second World War was con­ducted.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk and Bundy discuss selecting and reviewing target locations that would result in maximum damage to North Vietnam's military while inflicting minimal civilian casualties. Rusk briefly comments on the lack of incentive for North Vietnam to negotiate and mentions international perspectives on the war.

Keywords: bombing pauses; casualties; civilians; conventional; guerilla; rules of engagement; strategizing; tactics

00:09:53 - Effectiveness of bombing in Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: There are two more aspects of the bombing that I would like you both to comment on.

00:20:08 - "Americanization" of Vietnam's civil war

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Partial Transcript: Pop, Warren Cohen spent two years studying your career in public service and spent a great deal of time studying your involvement and role in the Vietnam War.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses his role in advising Presidents Kennedy and Johnson during the Vietnam War. Further, he talks about underestimating the capacities and resolve of North Vietnam, and he explains that mounting casualties made Americans disillusioned with the war. Rusk also ponders which military measures may defeat insurgents engaging in guerilla strategies and tactics.

Keywords: Ho Chi Minh trail; JFK; Lyndon Johnson; Warren Cohen; bombing; casualties; civil war; guerilla warfare; marines; strategy

00:29:03 - A war of attrition

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Partial Transcript: This question of tactics relates to the early question I asked. And that is, why were the North Vietnamese so tenacious?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk and Bundy talk about North Vietnam's tenacity, which they attribute to tough climates and the people's commitment to protecting their homeland. Rusk and Bundy compare North Vietnamese nationalism to the lack of morale among American draftees.

Keywords: Ho Chi Minh; attitudes; draft; morale; motivations; soldiers

00:38:43 - Strategic reserves / Public opinion

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Partial Transcript: We did not fill out our forces by calling up all the reserves and National Guard for that job.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the size of America's national reserve, the implications of formal war declarations, and the government's hesitation to spread "war fever" in the nuclear age. He also comments on the silent majority's changing attitudes toward Vietnam during the Nixon years.

Keywords: Johnson; National Guard; Nixon; Paris Agreements; forces; national reserve; patriotism; popular support

00:45:35 - Paris Peace Agreement

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Partial Transcript: If I might follow up that question with this one: under the terms of that settlement, and I believe it was 1974--

Segment Synopsis: Rusk and Bundy consider whether peace agreements could have been made prior to 1973. Rusk contends that U.S. involvement in Vietnam was important as a signal of America's loyalty to its allies. Bundy and Rusk assert that the American presence increased stability not only in Vietnam, but also in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand.

Keywords: Cold War; Southeast Asia; alliances; credible commitments; independence; regimes; stability

00:54:10 - Possible paths to victory / Westmoreland

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask the big question if I may.

Segment Synopsis: Bundy and Rusk postulate that America may have negotiated a favorable end to the war if reactions to the Tet Offensive had not been so intensely negative. They also comment on the Westmoreland trial, in which General Westmoreland, commander of the Tet Offensive, sued CBS for libel after the organization accused him of falsifying intelligence reports in order to create an illusion of progress in Vietnam.

Keywords: McChristian; Tet; Westmoreland; Westmoreland v. CBS; deception; media; order of battle; public opinion