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Rusk PPPP, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk and Thomas Schoenbaum, Part 1, circa 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:55 - Merits of constitutional democracy

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Partial Transcript: Did you take part in any of the observances on the American bicentennial?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the U.S. Constitution, highlighting the importance of consent of the governed. He considers the difficulties other states have had in establishing democracy, and he talks about village autonomy in semi-democracies and dictatorships.

Keywords: China; India; Vietnam; authoritarian; centralization; colonialism; communism; ethics; hybrid regimes; independence; political philosophy; socialism

00:08:52 - Comparing presidential and parliamentary democracy / Problem solving in Congress

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Partial Transcript: As to the form of democracy...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk ponders whether parliamentary democracy would be more effective than presidential democracy in the United States. He describes the struggle to reach congressional consensus rather than impasse, and he talks about least common denominator solutions.

Keywords: Connecticut Compromise; Earl Warren; Electoral College; Phinizy; cabinet; divided government; separation of powers

00:15:05 - Conflict and consensus building in Congress / Truman's Secretaries of State

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Partial Transcript: You make a point that government officials need to spend enormous amounts of time just to make the system work.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains conflict within Congress, as well as between Congress and the executive branch. He talks about President Truman and the 80th Republican Congress, which, despite its nickname as the "Do Nothing Congress", established NATO and enacted the Marshall Plan. Rusk comments on Secretaries of State Stettinius, Marshall, Acheson, and Byrnes, whom Rusk characterizes as a rogue elephant.

Keywords: Arthur Vandenberg; Congressional committees; FDR; Geroge Marshall; Reagan; Roosevelt; Truman; UN; United Nations; foreign affairs; foreign policy

00:24:09 - Constitutional powers

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Partial Transcript: You have made the point that the Presidency is a license to persuade.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about the democratic process and willingness to follow presidential leadership. He discusses the impact of federal and state level constitutional overreach, and he comments on patriotism. Rusk explains the division of foreign policy powers between the president and Congress. He mentions President Johnson's willingness to discuss foreign affairs with members of Congress and cabinet members.

Keywords: Commander in Chief; McNamara; War Powers Act; appropriations; budget; constitution; foreign relations; legislation; mandate; treaties

00:34:03 - Relationship between Secretary of State and the president

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Partial Transcript: In terms of the relationship between the President and the Secretary of State...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains that his relationship with Congress increased Johnson and Kennedy's confidence in him as secretary of state. He considers whether a secretary of state can be too close to a president, and whether this would impact a secretary's ability to represent the State Department, the national interest, and the American people.

Keywords: George Marshall; authority; chain of command; foreign policy; trial balloons

00:42:07 - Congressional committees and foreign affairs / The executive branch and foreign affairs

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Partial Transcript: You make the general point that there's really no alternative to reaching consensus in our system.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk suggests that congressional committees with jurisdiction over different elements of foreign affairs should hold joint hearings. He recalls that Presidents Johnson and Kennedy gave the State Department significant influence over foreign diplomatic and intelligence activities.

Keywords: Allen Dulles; CIA; House Foreign Relations Committee; John Foster Dulles; Senate Armed Services Committee; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; ambassadors; communications; embassies; foerign policy; foreign relations; official presence

00:50:46 - Interest groups / Campaign financing

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Partial Transcript: My question pertains to this interest group business.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about interest group lobbying, noting that the secretary of state is largely insulated from lobbyists, who are more commonly concerned with domestic policy and legislative issues. Rusk advocates for an increase in interest groups, but expresses concern about political action committees (PACs) and the cost of running for office.

Keywords: Congress; Organization of Jewish Organizations; activists; advertisements; business interests; campaign contributions; interagency cooperation; legislature; national interest; right to petition; super PAC; television