INT: There have been people...

RH: (Interrupts) Thomas Jefferson as Vice President to George Washington organized the opposition to some of George Washington's views. When Clark Clifford decided it was a mistake, he went around Washington and formed a coalition in the Congress and in the State Department and everywhere else and confronted Johnson with it and said, you've got to go to Paris and negotiate a peace. and that's what Bob McNamara should have done, but Bob McNamara falsely kept quiet and kept quiet for all these years. Well, while I might add, the number of dead Americans in Vietnam doubled.

INT: Thank you.


INT: Why do you think in the Cold War that American Presidents have found it easier to deal with foreign policy matters than domestic policy?

RH: Well, first of all, in the Cold War you've got a clear cut enemy, everybody recognizes the enemy, the country's united on that the Soviet Union was enemy. So that makes it fairly easy. The second things is that the Congress of the United States, under our constitution, the way it works, foreign affairs is esoteric, domestic affairs, they all understand, and as a consequence getting something done in domestic affairs is much more difficult for a President than it is in foreign affairs during the Cold War. I mean, during the Cold War, there's a clear cut enemy, the President, the constitution gives him a monopoly of the power in foreign affairs, he doesn't have to deal with the House, so Senate ratifies treaties, but you know, we can go to war without a declaration of war as Truman did in Korea and so on, and as Johnson did in Vietnam. So, they gravitated to foreign affairs out of frustration with domestic affairs. They couldn't get anything done, they had to deal with so many interest groups and lobbies and trade unions and the Congress and so on and so forth, the bureaucracy in domestic affairs, but in foreign affairs, clear cut enemy, the Soviet Union, constitution gives them greater power the lack of expertise in Congress about foreign affairs gives them greater power so they inevitably drifted into foreign affairs out of frustration with domestic affairs.

INT: Is there something about the American system of government which meant that once the Johnson Administration had geared up for the conflict in Vietnam, it was very difficult to pull back?

RH: Well, I think that's true of any political system. I mean, look at the Russians and Chechnya, you know, they had a terrible time getting out of that thing, it was a terrible mistake, it's a quagmire. Afghanistan, the Russians had and that's a, you know, a Communist dictatorship. If they can't, you know... if the top people can't have the freedom, once they got in, you know, a very small group go the Russians into Afghanistan and it took them a hell of a long time to get out. Similarly with Chechnya, so I don't think that's in the nature of politics. Once you suffer casualties, once you're in there, it's very difficult to admit I was a stupid fool, I shouldn't have gotten us in there, I'm going to pull out. It's very difficult. I used to say about Lyndon Johnson, that you know, if you're Lyndon Johnson and you suddenly realize that the Vietnam is a mistake, you look in a mirror and you say, you Lyndon Johnson are responsible for the deaths of fifty five thousand American soldiers, because you were stupidly bull-headed and didn't understand the situation. I mean, a man will do anything to avoid have to confront himself with that sort of th. He'll rationalize, he'll justify as Bob McNamara has done, you see. you know, they were wrong, but it's awfully hard to admit you were wrong when there are fifty fivethousand dead Americans because you were stubbornly wrong and there were a lot of high officials, Averill Harriman and others, who were opposed to it from the beginning and they turn out to be right. It's a very difficult psychological problem for a man like Bob McNamara or Lyndon Johnson, for any man it's a difficult psychological problem.

INT: Thanks, thanks, thank you.


INT: I'm now going to ask questions for the program about Cuba. This is still the same day, June the eighth with Roger Hilsman. Why did it take so long for the US intelligence community to uncover the missile build-up?

RH: Because the Soviets camouflaged it and made it so secret, that was the first reason. I'll tell you, there was one major mistake on the part of the intelligence community. In one sense, the discovery of the missiles in time for Kennedy to do something about them was a great intelligence victory. the Soviets had gone to enormous extremes to hide it, they had prefabricated the storage sites for the warheads, you know, the nuclear warheads in the Soviet Union and shipped them that incredible distance. Let me just give you an idea of what the planning was required. There were over a hundred ship loads of war materials sent from the Soviet Union to Cuba. It takes about I've forgotten now, two or three hundred freight trains to fill one ship, so you get two or three thousand freight trains full of war material being shipped to Cuba. Now, you know, they went to elaborate extents to hide this, when they got there they put big fences around the port areas, no Cubans were allowed inside. When they moved them, they moved them by night under canvas covers, you know, elaborate things. Now, so in one sense the fact that we found out about them in time was a great success. But there was one intelligence failure and that was, you see back a year earlier when Kennedy came into office, he and everybody else was convinced that the Soviets had a missile gap in their favor, that is that the Soviets had three or four hundred ICBMs and we had about fifty or maybe a hundred at that time. Now, we later discovered that that big ICBM and I mean much later years later that we thought that the American intelligence and everybody thought was giving the Soviets a big advantage, that they... that's the one that orbited Yuri Gagarin around the earth, when they got it out to Plasetsk up in the Arctic Circle to employ, it was just too big and too bulky and as a consequence they had to go back to the drawing board. We didn't know this, so when Kennedy came into office, we thought there was a missile gap. there were a few, Bob McNamara claims that he had a gut feeling that there wasn't, but he had no evidence. So what happened was in the summer of '62 we flew the successfully the orbiting satellites and by September we knew that there was not only a new missile gap, but the missile gap was in our favor. So then the problem was, what do we do? Do we tell the Soviets? in the meantime, the Soviets are putting pressure on Berlin and it looks like there's, you know, going to be a hell of a crisis there and so there's a big struggle inside the American government about do we tell the Soviets? And finally, we decided to tell them, but we did instead of... you know, we didn't have the President do it or the Secretary of State or the Secretary of Defense, that would have been too threatening, too belligerent, so we had the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Ros Gilpatrick make a speech, very technical, but anyway what it said to the Russians was, the United States now knows that there's no missile gap in your favor and there is a missile gap in our favor. That was in October of '62. Now, what the Soviets did was they panicked for a little bit, you see, they said, oh my God, if we had an advantage like that, we would certainly do all sorts of things, not war necessarily, but we would take Berlin, we'd do all sorts of things, you know, like that and the Americans are going to do something like that too. but the Americans were not going to do something like that. so the Soviets, what can the Soviets do to even things? And somebody comes up with the idea that... somebody, some Soviet comes up with the idea, well we've got all these MRBMs and medium-range ballistic missiles, IRBMs, intermediate range ballistic missiles, let's ship 'em to Cuba, that it'll be an interim solution. So that was what happened, you see. Now where American intelligence made its mistake was that back in October you know, of the year before when Gilpatrick made his speech,

INT: So in fact, Khrushchev and the Politburo, learning that there was a missile gap in the United States' favor decided that they were then going to install missiles in Cuba as a stop gap?

RH: As a stop gap, exactly. They, you know, the trouble was if they'd launched on a crisis crash ICBM program, it would have meant their foreign policy would have been... their foreign aid program would have had to go down the drain, a lot of the things they were doing in agriculture all would have cost them heavily and this was a cheap, easy way out, they thought.

INT: Nonetheless, you note in your book that the Soviets had increased the destructive power they could deliver by fifty per cent.

RH: Oh, more than that. Now what it meant was that once they got those missiles there, they could more and more and more and more and you know, until it was overwhelming. but even the missiles that they had there, that actually arrived there, in a first strike would have knocked out all the American air bases, bomber bases, all the American missile bases and all American cities except Seattle, which was out of their range. But Washington, DC, New York City, Dallas, would all have gone under the hammer. But that's in a first strike, you see, and that's what made it so important was that we not permit that, that we had to get those things out of there. Now,... I'm not saying that the Soviets planned a first strike, I'm only saying that with them there, they could do things all over the world with very little risk, because they had this first strike capability, so we simply couldn't tolerate it. And the other thing was that, you know, we all recognized that sooner or later the Soviets were going to achieve parity in missiles, but it's one thing to do it overnight, secretly, without any other preparations for it and another thing to do it over a twenty year period, when you're going to have mutual adjustments and treaties and getting used to the situation.

INT: Given the danger posed by the Soviets putting missiles in Cuba, why wasn't there a possibility that that might happen, given more credence?

RH: Well, you know, I just said that I accept blame for a good portion of this. But the reasoning, or the reason we didn't think of it sooner was that the Soviets had never put any nuclear weapons outside the Soviet borders. They had never put them in Poland, they'd never put them in Eastern Europe, noneof the satellites were given nor were any Russian rockets stationed in satellite count... this was something they'd never done before, you see, it was quite unusual. And we didn't think they'd do it, you know. Truth of the matter is that it never dawned on us that they would take that kind of risk, we should have thought of it, and we should have realized that something like that might happen, but it just never occurred to us, until these enormous ship loads arrived in the summer. Then we were very nervous about it, we were quivering we were so nervous about, you know, that's what they were doing. We had seen nothing, but before, you know, just the mere volume and magnitude of this massive transfer of equipment, military equipment, led us to believe that the missiles might be among them. But that was not until the summer.