UGA Libraries Logo

Rusk PPPPP, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk, 1985 November

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
Toggle Index/Transcript View Switch.
Search this Index
00:00:09 - Edward Geary Landsdale / The Taylor-Rostow Mission / The State Department under Rusk

Play segment

Partial Transcript: The questions for this interview are drawn from David Halberstam's book, ...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk positively assesses military intelligence expert Edward Geary Landsdale's career. Rusk refutes claims that he tried to keep the State Department out of Vietnam and that his State Department functioned as a legal branch for the Pentagon. He defends several of his appointees, noting that he formed a department with strengths in economic matters.

Keywords: Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; Chester Bliss Bowles; Department of Defense; George Ball; George McGhee; Magsaysay; Philippines; Taylor-Rostow Mission; Vietnam; William Averell Harriman; William Chapman Foster

00:08:30 - State Department speeches / Averell Harriman

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Halberstam describes Ball as the "the last man in Washington to write his own speeches."

Segment Synopsis: Rusk recalls rewriting and editing his speeches and comments on how well-suited Averell Harriman was to be Kennedy's Secretary of State. He says that Harriman was a humble, loyal man and an able negotiator, mentioning Harriman's involvment in the 1968 Paris peace negotiations. Rusk evaluates Harriman's relationship with Soviet leaders and references Harriman's hearing problems.

Keywords: Office of Far Eastern Affairs; assistant secretary; undersecretary

00:15:11 - Robert McNamara / The nuclear chain of command

Play segment

Partial Transcript: ...about Bob [Robert Strange] McNamara's extraordinary grasp of facts and statistics: bottom of page 217...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara's use of statistical methods and his work ethic and compassion. Rusk talks about McNamara's response to escalation by North Vietnam and his abhorrence of nuclear weapons. He also comments on his role in the nuclear chain of command, the U.S. anti-first-strike position, and Soviet intention to attack Western Europe.

Keywords: Joint Chiefs of Staff; MAD; Truman; foreign policy; massive retaliation; national security

00:24:39 - Nuclear safeguards

Play segment

Partial Transcript: There are efforts to put greater controls on nuclear weapons.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the second strike policy and McNamara's Permissive Action Links system for nuclear weapons control and accident prevention. He mentions incidents of lost and misfired nuclear missiles, but claims that terrorists would not be capable of obtaining or using nuclear weapons. Rusk comments on the Strategic Air Command and nuclear communications methods, including teletype and scrambler phones.

Keywords: Joint Chiefs of Staff; National Secuirty Council; Warsaw Pact

00:36:27 - Ambassador Henry Cabot Lodge / The August 24 Cable / Intelligence on Vietnam

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Were you involved with the selection of Henry Cabot Lodge [Jr.] as Ambassador to Vietnam?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about helping appoint Henry Cabot Lodge, a Republican leader, as ambassador to Vietnam, and he evaluates Cabot's performance on the job. He comments on the August 24, 1963 cable that advocated the overthrow on President Ngo Dinh Diem and recalls Diem's political failures and assassination. Rusk talks about misinformation Diem provided to the U.S. intelligence community and to ambassadors.

Keywords: CIA; Frederick Nolting; General Harkins; Kennedy; Pentagon Papers; South Vietnam; self-determinism

00:51:12 - Competing propaganda in Vietnam / Local perception of communism / Kennedy's perspective on the war

Play segment

Partial Transcript: Some of the press coverage of our Vietnam policy was quite critical even in the very early sixties...

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about biased media reporting on Vietnam and about the CIA propaganda campaign against North Vietnam. He discusses local Vietnamese opinion of the communist movement, mentioning the "boat people", a phrase used to describe the refugees who fled the country. Rusk compares U.S. involvement in Vietnam to previous unsuccessful efforts in China. He notes President Kennedy's commitment to collective security and his reluctance to increase the U.S. presence in South Vietnam.

Keywords: Americanization; Southeast Asia; emigration; liberalism