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Rusk Q, Interview with Dean Rusk, circa 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:08 - Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution

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Partial Transcript: My first question about the Bay of Pigs would be related to John Kennedy and his campaign rhetoric and pledges of 1960.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes the political atmosphere in Cuba and the United States leading up to the Bay of Pigs, including the Cuban Revolution and introduction of Fidel Castro into office in 1959.

Keywords: 1960 U.S. election; American campaign rhetoric; American politics; Bay of Pigs; Bogotá; Central Intelligence Agency; Communism; Communist Party of Cuban; Containment; Cuba; Cuban Missile Crisis; Cuban elections; Dwight D. Eisenhower; El Bogotazo; Fulgencio Batista; George Marshall; Herbert Matthews; John F. Kennedy; Organization of American States; Richard Nixon; The Cuban Project; The New York Times; U.S. relations with Cuba; USINT Havana; Vietnam rhetoric; campaign rhetoric; rhetoric

00:11:24 - Covert operations in Cuba / The Cuban Project

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Partial Transcript: I've got a question for you that's been raised by others.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains the covert nature of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) actions in Cuba leading up to the Bay of Pigs invasion. He further discusses his perspective as former Chief of War Plans for the U.S., affecting his military and political view of covert actions made prior to the Bay of Pigs.

Keywords: Allen Dulles; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.; Bay of Pigs; Central Intelligence Agency; Chester Bowles; China-Burma-India Theatre; Cuban Missile Crisis; Dwight D. Eisenhower; Fidel Castro; Fulgencio Batista; Guantanamo; Harold Macmillan; John F. Kennedy; Joint Chiefs of Staff; Maxwell D. Taylor; Operation Mongoose; Richard M. Bissell, Jr.; Robert Kennedy; Special Group Augmented; U.S. Chief of War Plans; William Fulbright; covert operations

00:34:10 - Effect of failure of Bay of Pigs Invasion on JFK

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Partial Transcript: Did this thing affect your relationship with John Kennedy at all, either for the better or the worse?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses his relationship with Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs incident, as well as Kennedy's actions following the event.

Keywords: Allen Dulles; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.; Bay of Pigs; Cuban Missile Crisis; J. Edgar Hoover; Richard M. Bissell, Jr.; Robert Kennedy

00:37:00 - Bay of Pigs Invasion

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Partial Transcript: Tom had a question.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains his role in influencing the President's decisions during the Bay of Pigs incident, as well as results of the incident.

Keywords: Adlai Ewing Stevenson; Adlai Stevenson II; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr.; Bay of Pigs; Chester Bowles; Cuban Missile Crisis; Fidel Castro; Guantanamo; John F. Kennedy; Marxism; Marxist-Leninism; Presidential Staff; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; The New York Times; The Washington Post; U.S. Congress; U.S. Republican Party; United Nations; White House Staff; air strikes; leaks; nuclear fear; nuclear war; nuclear weapons; political leaks; second air strike

00:49:30 - International repercussions of Bay of Pigs

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Partial Transcript: You made the point that this thing was a serious blunder, but yet the Administration did manage to climb back out of it.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes the global ramifications of the Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba. He further explains the procedures involved during the invasion, and his access to the President during the time.

Keywords: American foreign policy; Bay of Pigs; John F. Kennedy; Joint Chief of Staffs; Lyndon B. Johnson; McGeorge Bundy; U.S. foreign policy

00:56:12 - Opposition to the Bay of Pigs by US government leaders

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Partial Transcript: When he laid down his reservations in your planning session, specifically that American support was not to be used, the Joint Chiefs and the military people and the CIA apparently were unhappy about it.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk remembers as best he can the opposition to the Bay of Pigs by various political leaders at the time, including Lyndon B. Johnson.

Keywords: Adolf A. Berle; Central Intelligence Agency; Fidel Castro; John F. Kennedy; Joint Chiefs of Staff; Lyndon B. Johnson; Robert McNamara; The Bay of Pigs

01:02:24 - "Groupthink" and the Bay of Pigs

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Partial Transcript: There's a professor at Harvard named Janis who's done a little studying on this groupthink type of dynamics and decision-making and I don't know if I subscribe to any of it or all of it, but do you personally think there was some sort of a groupthink process involved there?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes the decisions leading to the Bay of Pigs and the possible influence of what Harvard professor Irving Janis deemed "groupthink." He further defends the idea that the President is the final decision-maker of U.S. governmental decisions.

Keywords: Arthur M. Schlesinger; Cabinet meetings; China-India-Burma Theatre; Cuban Missile Crisis; Dwight D. Eisenhower. John F. Kennedy; Harvard University; Irving Janis; National Security Council meetings; Powers of the President of the United States; Presidential power; U.S. military planning; White House staff

01:04:58 - Role of the Soviet Union during Bay of Pigs

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Partial Transcript: As far as the role of the Soviet Union is concerned, how did the Soviets respond during the crisis itself and after the landings?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes the involvement of the Soviet Union in the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Keywords: Bay of Pigs; Bureau of Intelligence and Research; Central Intelligence Agency; Church Committee; Communism; Communist Russia; Llewellyn Thompson; Marxism; Nikita Khrushchev; Operation Mongoose; Organization of American States; Russian Missile Crisis; Second Red Scare; Soviet Union; The Cuban Project; U.S. propaganda; USSR; covert operations; nuclear war; propaganda; sugar; sugar plantations

01:13:14 - Fidel Castro and CIA "harassment"

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Partial Transcript: Who do you think in the Kennedy administration was behind the continuation of a degree of harassment as far as CIA is concerned, Cuban exile groups, would that have been Robert Kennedy?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes the effect of the Cuban Missile Crisis on the inherent global political power of Fidel Castro. He further explains the relationship between John F. Kennedy and Fidel Castro.

Keywords: Alliance for Progress; Bay of Pigs; Board of Trades; Bolivia; Central Intelligence Agency; Che Guevara; Cuban Missile Crisis; Cuban Revolution; John F. Kennedy; Latin America; Organization of American States; Robert Kennedy; Thomas Mann; Venezuela; anti-Communist sanctions; economic sanctions; foreign trade

01:19:43 - Relationship with John F. Kennedy after the Bay of Pigs

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Partial Transcript: That's a tough way to start an administration.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk remembers his own response to the Bay of Pigs and its effect on the Kennedy administration and their relationship with Congress.

Keywords: 1964 U.S. presidential election; Bay of Pigs; John F. Kennedy; U.S. Congress

01:23:01 - John F. Kennedy and White House communications

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Partial Transcript: This is the book "My Own Worst Enemy" by Leslie Gelb, Destler, and Lake.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk explains the communication methods of John F. Kennedy with the State Department and his own White House aids and other staff.

Keywords: Adlai Stevenson; Dean Acheson; Ernest K. Lindley; Evelyn Lincoln; Lyndon B. Johnson; McGeorge Bundy; Our Own Worst Enemy; Our Own Worst Enemy: The Unmaking of Foreign Policy; Presidential aid; Presidential speeches; Presidential speechwriting; Soviet Union; U.S. Department of State; USSR; Walt W. Rostow; White House communications; foreign policy; foreign policy literature; government communications; government memos; oration

01:31:39 - Role of the Secretary of State

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Partial Transcript: At one point too, they make the statement in this book, they talk about the Ben Heineman Report which recommended a thorough reorganization of the State Department and a view of the Secretary of State who would be not our chief diplomat but would be much more the primary advisor to the President in foreign policy, and I guess much more right at the President, much more like a national security advisor.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes his personal methods of best serving the President and others as Secretary of State, including the development of the U.S. Department of State Operations Center.

Keywords: 1960s American media; American media; Ben Heineman report; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Presidential communication; Presidential press conferences; Robert McNamara; U.S. Department of State Operations Center; U.S. National Security Advisor; Walter W. Rostow; White House staff; government press conferences; government reorganization

01:43:51 - The USSR

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Partial Transcript: Alec Douglas-Home and I agreed that we saw no prospect of an agreement between ourselves and the Russians on Berlin in 1961, following the ultimatum that Khrushchev gave Kennedy in Vienna.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk describes his communication with the Soviet Union during his time at Secretary of State.

Keywords: Alec Douglas-Home; Andrei Gromyko; Nikita Khrushchev; North Atlantic Treaty Organization