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Rusk XX, Clark Clifford, 1985 March

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:32 - Truman's White House Counsel

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Partial Transcript: The thing about you, sir, is that you and my dad go way back. I wonder if we could start back there in the Truman years.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford tracks his path from Naval Office aide to Truman's White House Counsel (1946-1950). He recalls his impression of Dean Rusk and talks about the State Department's and President Truman's positions on the establishment of Israel.

Keywords: George Marshall; Judge Rosenman; Loy Henderson; Potsdam; Robert McClintock; White House; aide; politics

00:07:08 - Domestic pressures and foreign policy

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Partial Transcript: Your feeling was that the President's position on the creation of the state of Israel was not simply due to domestic pressures, that it was a principled position?

Segment Synopsis: Clifford talks about the role of domestic politics in foreign policy decision-making with regard to Israel and Vietnam, and he contemplates Dean Rusk's views on these matters.

Keywords: Army; Harry Truman; Lyndon Johnson; foreign affairs

00:12:01 - Early impressions of Dean Rusk

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Partial Transcript: You had enough of an impression about my Dad, perhaps, to have had a reaction to John [Fitzgerald] Kennedy's appointment of him in January 1961 as Secretary of State.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford comments on Dean Rusk's appointment as Secretary of State and recalls evaluating appointees' financial securities. He also talks about disproving claims that President Kennedy had not written the Pulitzer Prize winning "Profiles in Courage."

Keywords: ABC; Drew Pearson; JFK; Kennedy; Mike Wallace; Robert McNamara; Rockefeller Foundation; finance; lawyer

00:18:02 - Characterizing Dean Rusk

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Partial Transcript: Let me ask a very general question in moving quickly with my questions.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford discusses Secretary of State Dean Rusk's competence, modesty, and private nature.

Keywords: State Department; diplomacy; experience

00:23:32 - Disagreements at the Tuesday luncheons

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Partial Transcript: But, often times, we would differ in front of the President.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford discusses disagreeing with Dean Rusk on issues, resulting in conflicting advice to President Johnson.

Keywords: Department of Defense; Department of State; senior advisors

00:28:52 - The Vietnam War

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Partial Transcript: At one time I was in complete accord with the position that your father took, as far as Vietnam was concerned.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford contests President Eisenhower's domino theory and talks bout General Westmoreland's misleading reports of victory in Vietnam. He explains that the Tet Offensive changed his mind about the prospect of American success.

Keywords: Maxwell Taylor; Pacific rim; containment; southeast Asia

00:32:27 - Post-Tet policy review

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Partial Transcript: I can remember feeling very grateful to you, personally, for your role in helping to swing the president around in the post-Tet Offensive policy review.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford describes Dean Rusk as a pensive and principled man and says that he was never able to influence Rusk's thinking. Clifford recalls having a moment of agreement with Rusk when editing a speech for President Johnson.

Keywords: Vietnam; address; draft

00:38:51 - Influencing President Johnson

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Partial Transcript: Townsend Hoopes wrote a book called The Limits of Intervention, in which he lays out the case that you and your colleagues in the Defense Department were instrumental in helping Lyndon Johnson turn his view around on Vietnam.

Segment Synopsis: Richard Rusk shares scholarly views on Dean Rusk's political evolution and his role in changing Johnson's view of the Vietnam War. Clifford mentions working secretively with other Cabinet members to hasten the president's withdrawal.

Keywords: Katzenbach; Warren Cohen

00:43:34 - Ending the war

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Partial Transcript: I had a picture of President Johnson saying, "I'm going to stick with this till I nail the coonskin on the wall"--an old expression.

Segment Synopsis: Clifford discusses possible consequences of militarily dividing North Vietnam. Richard Rusk recalls asking Dean Rusk not to continue the Vietnam War.

Keywords: China; Walt Rostow; communism; intelligence; mutual assistance pact