MACLEAN’S INTERVIEWS

Dean Rusk

February 1 1968
MACLEAN’S INTERVIEWS

Dean Rusk

February 1 1968

Dean Rusk

MACLEAN’S INTERVIEWS

On page 12. Maclean's states its reasons for opposing the U.S. intervention in Vietnam and examines Canada's role as a reluctant ally. In the following interview with Ottawa Editor Blair Fraser, the U.S. Secretary of State tells why the Americans are there, what they hope to achieve — and how they propose to get out.

Maclean’s: What is your personal prediction of the way the war will end in Vietnam?

Rusk: It is difficult to make a prediction because it takes two sides to make peace. The United States, along with many other governments, has long sought to end the bloodshed and to bring the conflict to the conference table — thus far without success. However, the conflict could end quickly if the Hanoi Government simply decides to close out its attempt to take over South Vietnam by force.

Maclean's: What would you consider to be reasonable peace terms?

Rusk: What is required to make peace can be derived from the causes of the present hostilities. U.S. combat forces were introduced into South Vietnam because of the men and arms sent into the South by Hanoi. We believe that the special problems of such divided countries as Germany. Korea and Vietnam must be settled by peaceful means and not by force. We have treaty commitments in all three instances. Canada is a member of NATO and participated with UN forces in Korea.

Our view on peace terms can be found in our Fourteen Points, in the Seven Nation Manila communique of October 1966. and in the principles of the Geneva Accords of 1954 and 1962. We are prepared to discuss details with those who can stop the shooting. We will meet with them at any time without conditions, or will meet to discuss conditions prior to formal negotiations. Maclean’s: Would it be correct to say these terms define the war aims of the United States?

Rusk: Yes. since the war aim of the United States is peace.

Maclean's: How long would it be. in your opinion, before these aims can be achieved?

Rrsk: I cannot guess how long. The fighting itself can end as soon as Hanoi decides it is more in its interest to negotiate a mutually acceptable settlement than it is to keep on trying to take over South Vietnam by force. Until Hanoi makes this decision, we are obliged to continue to assist South Vietnam to defend itself with armed force.

In partnership with our Vietnamese allies and the other nations assisting in South Vietnam's defense, we have made significant progress. Repeated enemy assaults have been thrown back, at heavy loss to the other side. Protection against Viet Cong terror has been steadily extended to wider segments of the population. Five elections have been held in the past IS months for local officials, the Presidency, and the two legislative chambers, and institutions for representative government have thus been established in the midst of a cruel war. I expect further steady progress over the coming months.

Maclean's: Do you believe the government of South Vietnam would then hecome self-sustaining militarily, or would an American garrison be needed for a longer time?

Rusk: We have pledged to withdraw our forces from Vietnam when the external aggression against South Vietnam ceases. North Vietnamese personnel and support are withdrawn, and the level of violence thus subsides. Under those circumstances, the Vietnamese Government should

be able to deal with its own self-defense requirements.

Maclean's: Do you envisage a united or a permanently divided Vietnam? If united, by what means? If divided, how' will peace be kept? Rusk: We consider the question of the reunification of Vietnam to be one for the free decision of the Vietnamese people. We would accept unity through free elections under international supervision and oppose unity by force.

Realistically, we recognize that there are great obstacles to reunification. The two parts of Vietnam have developed different political and social systems. However, we do not believe reunification is an impossible goal, and are fully prepared to support the free decision of the Vietnamese people.

Maclean's: Would the United States tolerate an elected Communist government in Saigon? An elected neutralist government?

Rusk: We have long supported the idea of genuinely free elections in South Vietnam to give the South Vietnamese a government of their own choice and we are committed to respect their decision.

We support the development of broadly based democratic institutions in South Vietnam. We do not seek the exclusion of any segment of the South Vietnamese people from peaceful participation in their country's future. Nor do we seek to determine the South Vietnamese Government s political outlook and orientation.

In the face of the steadfast refusal of the Viet Cong to engage in peaceful participation, and their massive efforts to disrupt the recent series of elections, the success of the South Vietnamese people in establishing a constitutional, representative government is truly remarkable.

Maclean's: Many Canadians (like many Americans) who accept the sincerity of American intentions in general in Vietnam, are disturbed by the use of anti-personnel weapons such as fragmen-

tation bombs, napalm, etc. What is the explanation of this policy?

Rusk: The weapons you mention are used to achieve specific and limited military purposes. In this war, as in any other, civilian casualties are inevitable. They are deeply regretted, but the most stringent efforts are made to minimize civilian casualties whether inflicted by these or any other weapons at our disposal. Fragmentation bombs are used against antiaircraft weapons sites; napalm is rarely used in North Vietnam; it has been used in the immediate battlefield area in and around the DM/.. The real point is. however, that all of the fighting could stop within hours if Hanoi will help make peace.

Maclean's: Do these problems keep you awake at night, literally? Or arc you able to put them aside at the end of the working day? Aside from your own personal experience, how important is the problem of sheer physical and intellectual fatigue among men who have to carry these terrible responsibilities?

Rusk: A government servant accepts the burden of responsibility in the knowledge that he must be prepared to accept, and overcome, any fatigue which arises. No reasonable human being contemplates with equanimity the tragedy of war. and the horror and sadness it begets. But the cost of human freedom is always high, and most of us believe the price must be paid.

Maclean's: In the internal politics of the United States, are you confident that the people will continue to support a war without victory, over a period of years?

Rusk: I am confident that the people of the United States will continue to support the objectives for which we are fighting in Vietnam and the policies that have been framed and developed under four presidents to carry out these objectives.

Maclean's: In our parliamentary system, the government would be forced to make peace (or to resign) if it lost the support of a majority in parliament. What happens in the American system, if the support for the war in Congress and among the general public drops below the 50-percent mark — or if disaffection becomes clearly apparent in other, practical ways? In other words, how’ far can a United States administration pursue a policy when the people have turned against it? Rusk: The American people conduct their public business, at the federal level, through the President and the Congress. I sec no indication that a majority of our Congress will not support our effort in Vietnam. Indeed, there is no responsible opinion that we should withdraw from Vietnam. In any event, these matters are not decided by public-opinion polls. If someone were to ask me. “Are you happy about Vietnam?", my answer would be. “No." In the most literal sense no one wants peace in Southeast Asia more than President Johnson. How to get it is a most complicated question and withdrawal is not a way to get it. [ his is very broadly understood among the American people.

Maclean’s: In Canada, discussions of the Vietnam war often include references to our dependence on a friendly administration in Washington, and some published reports have alleged that the present administration resented the recent suggestion of Honorable Paul Martin that bombing of North Vietnam should be suspended. Arc these reports correct?

Rusk: Relations between governments, especially friendly governments, have nothing to do with resentment. Mr. Martin and I sec each other frequently and discuss all / continued on page 64

DEAN RUSK continued from pape 9

“Chinese attitudes

are not unrelated to

Hanoi’s policies”

of our problems with each other in some detail. The suggestion of a “bombing suspension” is not one which offends the United States. The trouble is that Hanoi calls a pause an ultimatum. The point is that no one in the world can tell us what would happen if we stopped the bombing. Hanoi refuses to do so and no one else is able to do so. But we shall not abandon the effort to find a peaceful settlement to the problems of Southeast Asia.

Maclean’s: How do you feel about Canada's willingness to admit American draft-dodgers as immigrants?

Rusk: Canada is fully capable of deciding for itself which immigrants it wishes to receive. So far as I know this matter has not been discussed between our two governments.

Maclean’s: In general, what is the effect of public criticism by foreign, but normally friendly, countries? Is it better to express these views openly, or only in private? Or not at all?

Rusk: Canada and the United States have different responsibilities in the South Pacific. The United States has alliances with Korea, Japan, the Republic of China, the Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and Thailand. South Vietnam is covered by the SEATO Treaty. Canada is not a party to any of these treaties but is a member of the International Control Commission under the Geneva Arrangements. We would hope that our Canadian friends w'ould understand that we have a vital stake in the integrity of our alliances in the Pacific Ocean area. We might believe that Canada's own national interests arc related to these alliances whose purpose is to preserve peace in the Pacific — but that is a matter for Canada to decide. On our part, we understand the special responsibilities which Canada bears as a member of the International Control Commission. These are onerous duties and Canada carries them with integrity. We cannot ask that other democracies take steps to restrain public criticism which we ourselves would not take in our free society. We do solicit understanding — but beyond that we cannot properly go.

Maclean's: When people mention the so-called “domino theory” in talking about Vietnam, the usual assumption is that all the dominoes are standing on end in Southeast Asia and its immediate neighborhood. Would it be fair to suggest that some other dominoes seem to be tottering in other areas — Europe. Latin America, the United States itself? How do you strike a balance in appraising these elements of support and opposition?

Rusk: I have never talked about the “domino theory” because it is much too simplistic and suggests that somehow we are playing games. The problem is that there are North Vietnamese regiments today fighting in South Vietnam. There are North Vietnamese armed forces in Laos being opposed by Laotian forces. There are North Vietnamese - trained guerrillas operating in northeast Thailand.

It takes two to make a peace; and we would like to see some indication

from the other side that they accept the notion that all countries, large and small, as the United Nations Charter puts it, have a right to live in peace without molestation from across their frontiers.

When that moment comes, there can be peace very quickly, indeed; and the United States will be no ob-

stacle whatever in making a peace on that basis. As to the situation in other areas, my own judgment would be that Europe and Latin America are both making steady progress in key respects, although there arc, of course, difficulties that may attract disproportionate attention. I have already commented on the situation within the

United States, as it relates to the Vietnam issue.

Maclean’s: Do you regard China as the real enemy in the Vietnam war? Rusk: No. The aggressor nominates himself by his own action. U.S. combat forces are in South Vietnam because North Vietnam has been sending men and arms, including regiments of its regular army, into South Vietnam. But Chinese attitudes and positions are not unrelated to Hanoi’s policies. What we are seeking in Asia

is an organized and reliable peace. We arc not picking out Peking as some sort af special enemy. By advocating and ibetting the violent overthrow of legally constituted governments, there is little doubt that Peking has in practical terms designated itself as a state antagonistic to what we and virtually ever\ other state in the world see as the rule of law and order in international relations. In simple terms, we believe and have believed throughout my term of office and before, that if

Hanoi were to take over South Vietnam by force, the effect would be to stimulate the expansionist ambitions of Communist China and greatly to weaken the will and capacity of the independent nations of Southeast Asia to resist. Thus the Vietnamese situation has a direct bearing on freedom throughout Southeast Asia, and particularly freedom of the area from Communist Chinese pressure and subversion. This connection is not a new point at all. It has bulked large in the

thinking and expression of President Johnson. President Kennedy, and their predecessors, and it plays a major part in the sympathetic views of the great body of responsible opinion in Southeast Asia toward the allied effort in support of South Vietnam.

Maclean's: Is there any possibility of improving United States’ relations with China while Mao Tse-tung is alive and ruling the country?

Rusk: We would be glad to find some way of improving our relations with

the people of mainland China once Peking indicates its willingness to live at peace with other countries in Asia and with us. We have expressed our hope for reconciliation. We have sought some sign from Peking that it is interested in either increasing contacts with the United States or discussing on a bilateral or multilateral basis such major problems of peace and security as disarmament and an easing of tensions in Asia. Thus far Peking has given us no hint of interest. It seems to be saying that there is nothing to discuss between us unless we surrender Taiwan.

Maclean's: What is your appraisal of the danger that the hostility between the United States and Mao’s C'hina may lead to all-out war?

Rusk: We have no hostile intent toward Communist China. We wish to avoid a conflict with Peking, and we have taken every measure to avoid such a conflict. We believe Peking knows this. We think the Chinese also wish to avoid such a conflict and I would see no reason to believe there is any fatal inevitability that it will occur. Maclean's: Are you convinced that Mao's China has adopted a firm policy of military expansion?

Rusk: The Chinese have given ample evidence in the past that they are not reluctant to use direct military force across their borders. I would prefer, however, to emphasize that Peking, by its physical size, its population, its large army, its developing nuclear capability and the policies it espouses, poses a threat which is real in the minds of other Asians. Peking has made completely clear its view that the doctrine and policies w-hich it advocates arc the proper and only appropriate guide for the behavior and development of all other states, particularly those in Asia. It shelters the leaders of insurrectionary movements from a number of Asian states and provides them with funds. It helps to arm and train their supporters. It publicly calls for the overthrow of the legitimate governments of these states. Whether the Chinese themselves physically intend to occupy the countries around them is less to the point than that they seem determined, at least at this point in time, to see the present governments of these states violently replaced by regimes which accept Peking’s main policies. ★