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Rusk ZZZZZ, Richard Holbrooke, Part 2, Feb 1986

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, University of Georgia
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00:00:00 - Vietnam negotiations during an election year

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Partial Transcript: They would rather have--at the end it came down, they had only two choices left.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke talks about how the end of Johnson's presidency affected the progression of the Vietnam War. He mentions that March of 1968 was a turning point in the war and that the uniterd States might have been able to achieve a better outcome in negotiations that year. Holbrooke claims that neither side was willing to negotiate until after the 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Keywords: Eugene McCarthy; Hubert Humphrey; Richard Nixon; bombing halt; elections; limited action

00:06:52 - Half-hearted negotiations

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Partial Transcript: Dick, you raised the point that March of 1968 was a turning point, not only in the war but in Dean Rusk's point of view.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke talks about the toll events like Vietnam, civil rights riots, Bobby Kennedy's assassination, and French political protests took on the Johnson Administration. He mentions that the initial Paris talks and other secret negotiations were unproductive due to fear of press leaks, unwillingness to make unilateral concessions, and loss of leverage.

Keywords: Australia; Charles de Gaulle; Nguyen Van Thieu; media; private information

00:16:10 - The State Department and Vietnam

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Partial Transcript: The second question is what I felt the significance of the seventy-fifth birthday party for Mr. Rusk was in 1984.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke mentions his assignment to the Foreign Service in Vietnam and Dean Rusk's 75th birthday party. He talks about senior officials' lack of knowledge regarding Vietnam. Holbrooke also discusses the quality of the State Department's and others' intelligence.

Keywords: Bureau of Intelligence and Research; CBI; INR; Indochina; Jack Foisie; Vietnam; William Harriman

00:23:36 - Marine Strategy in Vietnam / Intelligence failures

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Partial Transcript: I visited the Marines up in the Third Marina Amphibious Force Area, south of Danang, for a week in 1966.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooks criticizes the Marine Corps strategy in Vietnam, claiming that the Vietcong often destroyed the Marines' progress. He claims that it was difficult for Dean Rusk and other policy makers to make good decisions in Vietnam because of intelligence failures and information blocks.

Keywords: General Walt; General Westmoreland; Henry Cabot Lodge; Johnson; McNamara; Vietcong; politicized intelligence

00:30:17 - State Department chain of command

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Partial Transcript: Your office was right down the hall from my dad's.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke justifies Dean Rusk's lack of consultation of junior officers. He also mentions that the Vietnam War divided the State Department.

Keywords: Clark Clifford; Foreign Service; advisers; chain of command; loyalty

00:34:25 - Rusk's support for U.S. foreign policy

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Partial Transcript: Your next question is...

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke says that although Dean Rusk did not dissociate from harsh realities of the Vietnam War, he chose not to criticize the war because doing so would compromise his loyalty to Kennedy and Johnson. Holbrooke praises Rusk's eloquence and examines Rusk's values with respect to foreign policy.

Keywords: Henry Kissinger; McNamara; principles

00:42:06 - Strategy in Vietnam / Principles of the U.S. government

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Partial Transcript: The question is why things went wrong in Vietnam if the principles were the correct principles.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke talks about flaws in U.S. Army strategy and advising, and he contends that south Vietnam was too weak for containment to work. Holbrooke comments on public opinion as well as the moral dilemmas of government service in the 1960s and 1970s.

Keywords: Clifford; Indochina; Katzenbach; North Vietnam; Pentagon Papers; Tet Offensive; Vietcong; Westmoreland; bombing; combat; foreign policy; military; protection; strategy; tactics

00:50:29 - Ambassador Bunker and President Thieu / Health and decision-making

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Partial Transcript: I agree that you can't force a sovereign government to do something against its will.

Segment Synopsis: Holbrooke talks about Ambassador Ellsworth Bunker and missed opportunities to exert political leverage over the South Vietnamese president, Nguyen Van Thieu. He mentions Dean Rusk's avoidance of gossip and conflict with other cabinet members. Holbrooke comments on the effects of Rusk's health and fatigue on his decision-making during his later years.

Keywords: Paris; South Vietnam; Vance; negotiations; peace talks; pressure; sovereignty