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Rusk YYYYY, Richard Holbrooke, Part 1, 1986 February

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:18 - Critical questions for Dean Rusk

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Partial Transcript: Dick, maybe we can get you to comment in general, based on your readings of the transcripts we've done for this Dean Rusk oral history, on Vietnam and its emphasis on the events of 1968...

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke contends that Rusk would never criticize the presidents under whom he served. He proposes questions about the Vietnam War and Rusk's actions therein to further explore with Dean Rusk.

Keywords: Johnson; Kennedy; Korea; Townsend Hoopes; limited bombing

00:10:57 - The limited bombing halt in North Vietnam / Critiquing the Paris Peace Talks and President Johnson

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Partial Transcript: ...according to the transcript of the interview he gave to the Johnson Library, Dean Rusk was the proposer of that bombing halt in March of '68...

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke confirms that Rusk proposed the March '68 bombing halt, but questions the prospects for its success. He talks about working on Johnson's March 31st speech, during which he did not know that Johnson would not run for reelection. He explains why the twentieth parallel was chosen for the limited bombing halt demarcation. Holbrooke criticizes the Paris Peace Talks in light of U.S. casualties.

Subjects: Bill Bundy; Clifford; Cy Vance; DMZ; Indochina; McPherson; Tet Offensive; Townsend Hoopes; William Bundy; demilitarized zone; elections; negotiations; southeast Asia

00:22:36 - Evaluating historical accounts / Lady Bird Johnson / Evaluating Ellsworth Bunker

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Partial Transcript: Dick, you've seen the number of accounts written of that period.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke discusses books written about 1960s and '70s foreign policy development and mentions Lady Bird Johnson's influence on Lyndon Johnson's policy and career. He compares positions between Ellsworth Bunker (U.S. Ambassador to South Vietnam) and the diplomat Averell Harriman, with respect to the March 1968 bombing halt in Vietnam. Holbrooke claims that ambassador Ellsworth Bunker did not accurately relay the Paris Peace Talks to President Thieu.

Keywords: Averell Harriman; Clark Clifford; Cy Vance; Walt Whitman Rostow; biographies; histories

00:29:16 - Relationships between Rusk's contemporaries

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Partial Transcript: Dick, perhaps you can talk in greater detail about the Paris Peace Talks and Dean Rusk's role as you best perceived it in Paris.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke explains that it was difficult to agree upon a place to hold negotiations between the U.S. and North Vietnam. He comments on President Johnson, Dean Rusk, and Averell Harriman's opinions on Cy Vance. Holbrooke also discusses how Dean Rusk and Averell Harriman perceived one another, describing a misunderstanding that resulted from the two men's differing value systems. Holbrooke discusses possible roots of Rusk and Harriman's tense relationship, including New York elections and legal philosophy.

Keywords: George Frost Kennan; Israel; Llewellyn Thompson; character; international law; legalism; will to power

00:41:13 - The Paris Peace Talks: The U.S. delegation and the role of the USSR and South Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: Dick, what came next after the issue of where we have the talks?

Segment Synopsis: Holbroke describes the Paris delegation, mentioning that Averell Harriman's defense of a full bombing halt was motivated by his desire to get Hubert Humphrey elected as president. Holbrooke explains Rusk's concern over leaks, and he talks about the conditions under which the U.S. would stop bombing North Vietnam. He emphasizes the Soviet interest in the Paris Peace Talks and mentions domestic political effects of South Vietnam's pulling out of the talks.

Keywords: Ben Read; Chenault; DMZ; Dobrynin; Ellsworth Bunker; Johnson; Katzenbach; Philip Habib; Thieu; Vance; bombing halt; cables

00:50:05 - Bunker position on peace negotiations

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Partial Transcript: Dick, you blame the responsibility for that breakdown more or less on Bunker's mishandling the negotiations with Thieu.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke claims that Dean Rusk was not involved in Ellsworth Bunker's mishandling of the information between the U.S. and Saigon. He explains why Rusk allowed South Vietnam to back away from the negotiating table, citing better possible outcomes under the next president. Holbrooke briefly speaks about Soviet involvement and North Vietnam's tenacity.

Keywords: Harriman; John Negroponte; Johnson; Kissinger; Soviet Union; Thieu; USSR; Vance