Interview with Roger Hilsman, 1981
Roger Hilsman worked in the Kennedy Administration, first as director of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and then as the Assistant Secretary of State for Far Eastern Affairs. He was criticized for drafting a cable on behalf of President Kennedy to the American Ambassador to South Vietnam instructing the Ambassador to give direct support to the opponents of President Ngo Dinh Diem. He describes the Kennedy White House as youthful and confident but shaken when Soviet Premier Khrushchev announced his support for insurgencies around the world. He says this announcement paved the way for the US counterinsurgency operations in Vietnam. Hilsman says he tried to convince Kennedy that the way to fight guerillas was with guerillas themselves. He also recounts Kennedys distaste for sending American troops into Vietnam. He describes meeting with South Vietnamese leadership in the early 1960s, the mixed signals they received, and a lack of political support for their policies. He says Kennedy was desperate to get America out of Vietnam.
Khrushchev's call for global insurgency and the Kennedy Administration's response
Tape 1 Side 1
This is May the 11th 1981. WGBH Vietnam. This is sound roll number 2413. Go along with picture roll 424. There's a reference -8db coming up.
There is a hiss for alignment.
Hum it's me.
Thought I was hearing radiators.
Start of scene 588. Camera roll 424. 2413 Sound roll number. Beep beep. Hoarse beep.
590 coming up.
Um hum. All right.
Start 591 coming up. 591.
J.F.K.'s dread of committing combat forces in Vietnam
This is, ah, 592 coming up. 592.
Hilsman's report to J.F.K. on Vietnam
This is ah 594 coming up. 594. Camera roll 425.
Significance of the defeat by the Communists at Ap Bac
The Strategic Hamlet Program and Ngo Dinh Nhu's megalomania
This is, ah, May 11th, 1981. This is, ah Vietnam. We're doing a continuation of ah, ah, interview with Roger Hilsman. This is sound roll 2414. We're starting camera roll 426. Vietnam. Here's a reference coming up at 8DB.
Here's a hiss for alignment.
[Brief unintelligible sound.]
The Buddhists' development of political power
This is 597 coming up, on camera roll 426.
The denoument of Ngo Dinh Diem's decline
[More indecipherable speech.]
597 coming up. 597.
Now is 598 coming up.
Coming up on 600. Beeps. Second slate.
R.F.K.'s summary of the American failure in Vietnam
Get a little room tone for you.
Room tone. There's more room tone than I thought.
End of Hilsman, SR #2414.