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Rusk TTT, Dean Rusk interviewed by Richard Rusk, Thomas Schoenbaum, and Tom Ganschow, 1985 April

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - U.S. relationship with China at the end of the Korean War

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Partial Transcript: We're talking with former Secretary of State Dean Rusk on China policy. Doing the interviewing are Professor Tom Ganschow and Tom Schoenbaum and Rich Rusk. This is April 1985.

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk describes rocky relations between the United States and China after the Korean War. He describes the concept of the "two China's approach" (recognizing China and Taiwan as two separate countries), and says that if the United States had tried to recognize China on that basis they would have refused recognition. He also discusses disagreeing with Britain on their policy to recognize China.

Keywords: The Life of Churchill; Democrats; Dwight Eisenhower; John Foster Dulles; Oliver Shewell Franks; Peking Union Medical College; People's Republic of China; Republicans; Richard Nixon; Rockefeller Foundation

00:10:57 - Being chosen to be Secretary of State by JFK

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Partial Transcript: Ten years go by and you become Secretary of State. 1961, is that correct?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk discusses his surprise when President Kennedy asked him to become his Secretary of State, saying that during his prior conversations with Kennedy he had recommended several other candidates for the position but that they never talked about Rusk being a candidate.

Keywords: Adlai Stevenson; Bill Fulbright; Chester Bowles; Declaration of Conscience; George Marshall; Georgetown; Robert Lovett; Robert Shriver; Rockefeller Foundation; Walt Rostow; West Palm Beach

00:17:34 - Kennedy's policy on China

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Partial Transcript: When you did become Secretary of State, right in those early days, you already had considerable experience in China, relationship with China. Did you have any particular views and goals that you were hoping to accomplish with respect to China?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk recalls President Kennedy promptly saying that he would not reopen China after his election. He discusses the possible reason for Kennedy's statement, saying that Kennedy probably did not believe that it was worth the controversy it would cause.

Keywords: George Marshall; People's Republic of China; United Nations; bilateral recognition

00:22:47 - Reaction to Kennedy's China Policy

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Partial Transcript: I'm going to ask you a little more of a technical question. Now, as Secretary of State you had an Assistant Secretary for Far Eastern Affairs, is that correct?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk discusses keeping his conversations with Kennedy about his policy on China a secret from his colleagues in the State Department so it wouldn't be leaked to the press. He also says that he was not surprised by Kennedy refusing to reopen China because he had only won the 1960 election by a close call.

Keywords: New York Times; Washington Post; Atlanta; China Lobby; Eastern Affairs; Graham Parsons; People's Republic of China; Republican Party; Taiwan; Walter McConaughy; two-China's policy

00:34:34 - Lack of efforts from the Chinese to establish relations with the U.S.

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Partial Transcript: Was there any effort by any Chinese communist officials to establish communications with you and explore the possibility of formal or informal--

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk says that he can not recall any efforts from the Chinese to establish relations with the United States during the fifties or sixties.

Keywords: Chen Yi; Estonia; Laos; Lativa; Lithuania; People's Republic of China

00:39:06 - Forces in Taiwan and China Policy

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Partial Transcript: Some people have felt that by that time Taiwan was built so strongly into our defense system that it was almost impossible to change our China policy.

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk discusses the reasons why war with China was not feasible, saying that you could not conquer a country with so many people. He also talks about the local forces of troops that were in Taiwan at the time.

Keywords: Chen Cheng; China Policy; Director of Chinese Affiars; Edmund Club; John Paton Davies; People's Republic of China

00:43:49 - China Policy under Johnson

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Partial Transcript: When Johnson becomes President was there any appreciable immediate difference that you detected?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk says that during the Johnson presidency, Peking, China had a very hostile attitude toward any kind of peaceful settlement with Vietnam. Both Peking and Hanoi had expressed that they wanted the United Nations to stay out of the Vietnam issue.

Keywords: Geneva Conference; Laos Accords; Southeast Asia Treaty; Soviet Union; U.N Security Council

00:48:39 - U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: How much of our experience or former experience in Korea entered into the way in which we approached Vietnam, Mr. Rusk?

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk discusses the way that the U.S. involvement in the Korean War affected the way they approached Vietnam. He also talks about relations with China during this time, saying that they did not want to trigger the alliance between China and North Vietnam and create an even bigger war.

Keywords: Clark Clifford; Geneva Conferences; Haiphong; Hanoi; People's Republic of China

00:57:07 - Differences between Rusk and George Ball

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Partial Transcript: A certain scholar has remarked that there was a critical difference between Secretary of State Rusk and George [Wildman] Ball in those early 1960s.

Segment Synopsis: Dean Rusk discusses disagreeing with the George Ball in the State Department regarding Ball's belief that Southeast Asia was not important to the United States. Rusk also talks about the involvement of Taiwan during the Vietnam war.

Keywords: JFK; Khrushchev; NATO; Pleiku