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Rusk U, Interview with Dean Rusk, January 3, 1985

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:20 - Separation of Powers / Complexity of U.S. government

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Partial Transcript: I've noticed reading back through some of these transcripts that some of our best ones have been those where you more or less start off and open with your remarks and we more or less stay out of the picture.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk begins the interview with some opinions of the American political system. He talks about how the complexity of the U.S. government makes it difficult to explain the political system to foreigners.

Keywords: American Chief Justices; Andrei Gromyko; Congressional committees; Earl Warren; Foreign Relations Committee; Henry Kissinger; Senate appropriations; U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. Secretary of State; U.S. Senate; balance of power; separation of powers

00:03:34 - Relationship between State Department and Congress

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Partial Transcript: How much of your time?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the nature of the relationship between different branches of government, particularly his relationship with members of Congress. He talks about the time and effort required to nurture this relationship, including preparing for committee hearings, offering to help with constituent issues, and attending "breakfast club" meetings.

Keywords: Congressional Breakfast Clubs; Congressional committees; Congressional hearings; Congressional mail; Congressional rules; Congressional staff; Congressional subcommittees; Executive Branch; House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; J. William Fulbright; Jimmy Carter; Lyndon B. Johnson; Senate Foreign Affairs Committee; State department and Congress; The Vietnam War; foreign aid; government communications

00:13:10 - Weekly House of Representatives meeting

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Partial Transcript: There are some things that can be useful devices.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses informal meetings of the House of Representatives, where members of the State Department would brief congressmen on foreign affairs issues.

Keywords: American foreign policy; Arthur H. Vendenberg; Everett Dirksen; Hubert Humphrey; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Richard B. Russell; Robert S. Kerr; U.S. Cabinet; U.S. House of Representatives; U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee; U.S. Senate; U.S. Senate Foreign Affairs Committee; corporations; corporations and government

00:19:22 - Workings of U.S. Senate / Funding for foreign aid

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Partial Transcript: Well the Senate is a rather different body than the House.

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the difficulties of working with the Senate, including working with Senators with presidential aspirations and trying to discern the views of 100 members into a single negotiating standpoint. He also discusses the "whales" of the Senate--men who could deliver votes and were strong leaders. He also talks about the difficulty of getting appropriations for foreign aid.

Subjects: Foreign Affairs Committee; Johnson; Kennedy; Richard B. Russell; U.S. Senate

00:29:23 - State department budgets / Communicating with Congress during Cuban Missile Crisis and Gulf of Tonkin incident

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Partial Transcript: Would you argue that those thirty two trips represented an unreasonable surcharge on your time?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses preparing for Congressional appropriations hearings by becoming very familiar with the budgets of various offices. He talks about various money-saving measures, including central files and getting rid of individual water bottles. Rusk also discusses the White House's strategy for communicating with Congress during the Cuban Missile Crisis, specifically the idea of a "consultations" with Congress. He compares the communication during the Cuban Missile Crisis with the communication during the Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam.

Keywords: Bay of Pigs; Congressional budgeting; Cuban Missile Crisis; Dean Acheson; Gulf of Tonkin; Harry S. Truman; J. William Fulbright; John F. Kennedy; Lyndon B. Johnson; Richard B. Russell Jr.; Robert Taft; U.S. Congress; U.S. Congressional hearings; U.S. Congressional meetings; UN Security Council; United Nations; nuclear war; nuclear weapons; zero-based budgeting

00:42:31 - War Powers Act

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Partial Transcript: Pop, Loch Johnson's question relates to this paradox

Segment Synopsis: Rusk discusses the powers of the executive branch and the idea of an "Imperial Presidency" during the Johnson years. He discusses his opinions on the constitutionality of and the evolution of the War Powers Act and the role of the Vietnam War in its creation. He talks about different ways of communicating with Congress about executive branch initiatives.

Keywords: Barry Goldwater; Clifford P. Case; Everett Dirksen; Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; J. William Fulbright; John Sherman Cooper; John William McCormack; Loch Johnson; Lyndon B. Johnson; Mike Mansfield; Nonproliferation Treaty; Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; Organization of American States; Richard B. Russell Jr.; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; U.S. Congress; United Nations; Vietnam War; War Powers Resolution; Wayne Lyman Morse; Ways and Means Committee; Wilbur Mills; concurrent resolutions; joint resolutions

00:56:41 - The Vietnam War, Congress, and declaration of war

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Partial Transcript: With that in mind, did you folks consider seriously a declaration of war at any point in the Vietnam situation?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk talks about the politics behind making a formal declaration of war, or not. He discusses the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and whether or not the presidency had the authorization to escalate the war in Vietnam.

Keywords: Ascension Island; Congo Crisis; Congressional committees; Congressional war power; Cuban Missile Crisis; General Accounting Office; Gulf of Tonkin Resolution; House Foreign Affairs Committee; House Ways and Means Committee; J. William Fulbright; John F. Kennedy; Joint Atomic Energy Committee; Jomo Kenyatta; Julius Nyerere; Lyndon B. Johnson; Nikita Khrushchev; Pentagon Papers; Robert F. Kennedy; Senate Finance Committee; Senate Foreign Relations Committee; Simba Rebellion; declaration of war; formal declaration of war; war power

01:23:42 - Executive power

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Partial Transcript: We tend to place a lot of faith in the presidency as an institution and give it a lot of power in foreign affairs. Do you think basically the American people, with the exception of the problems we got into in Vietnam and some of these other issues, do you think basically they’re comfortable with the Executive being dominant in these matters?

Segment Synopsis: Rusk debates the dominance of the executive branch of government in the United States. He also discusses specific instances of executive power as asserted by John F. Kennedy during his administration, further exploring the role of Presidents in making some of the decisions that later come to define generations of American history.

Keywords: Anti-Communism; Captive Nations Resolution; Cold War; Congress and the President; Congressional voting; Dean Acheson; General Agreement on Tariffs and Trades; George F. Kennan; Great White Fleet; Harry S. Truman; Howard Alexander Smith; Idel Ural; J. William Fulbright; John F. Kennedy; John Foster Dulles; Judiciary Committee; Kennedy Round; Louisiana Purchase; Mike Mansfield; Napoleon Bonaparte; Panama Canal; Ronald Reagan; Southeast Asia Treaty Organization; Soviet Union; Star Wars; Strategic Defense Initiative; The Marshall Plan; Theodore Roosevelt; Trade Expansion Act; U.S. foreign aid; U.S. foreign policy; U.S. government; U.S. tariff negotiations; USSR; United States House Committee on Ways and Means; United States House of Representatives; United States Navy; Walter Lippmann; Wilbur Mills; executive branch