INT: One of those mistakes, I think you said earlier, was you didn't read the enemy correctly. It seems, looking back... it makes me almost wide-eyed that a nation as intelligent, actually got the enemy so wrong. Do you have any reason at all...?
RM: Oh, we're doing it today. We in this country don't understand the Chinese today, we don't understand the Muslim Fundamentalists today, we don't really understand the Serbs, Croats and Muslims in Bosnia today. But then, the US had relatively little knowledge at senior levels of the Vietnamese and the Chinese, in part because many of our senior specialists, in particularly China, had been forced out of the State Department during the McCarthy hearings in the 1950s. In any event, the fact is that at the senior levels of the Government we did not have a deep understanding of the peoples that we were involved with; we didn't know their history, their culture, their politics, their personalities. And that ignorance was reflected in the national intelligence estimates, which were the bible by which the Secretaries of State, Defence, National Security Advisers and the Presidents behaved.
INT: Our series is primarily about, in quotes, "the Cold War", which in the main is about US and Soviet relations. How did the Vietnam War affect US and Soviet relations in the main, or didn't it?
RM: I'm not certain it had... a major effect. Some have... Let's start all over again.
INT: OK, I'll ask you the question again. What effect did the Vietnam War have on American/Soviet relations?
RM: We made some advances during the Vietnam [War] in our relations with the Soviets. For example, the Limited Test Ban Treaty was negotiated with the Soviets during the middle of the war, and that was a very, very important... very controversial, but a very, very important step at the time. We also began the negotiations that led to the Anti-ballistic Missile Defence Treaty and the limitations on nuclear arms. All of those negotiations took place in the face of the Vietnam War and in the face of the Soviet support of the Vietnamese. But at the same time, we were continuing to expand our nuclear forces, in the face of the Soviet threat. We interpreted the Soviet support of Vietnam as a clear indication that they continued their policy of putting pressure on the West at every vulnerable point. So I think that the Vietnam War in one sense stood in the way of lessening the tensions which might otherwise have occurred.
INT: ... Moving on more domestically - each year, Sir, the anti-War protests grew. Did they have any effect in fact on the policies of yourself and on LBJ? Did they do anything?
RM: Oh, I think certainly they did. Well, this is a part that I just don't want to get in... we're goifar beyond what I'd anticipated. I really...
RM: Yeah. And when we're talking about this, let's be sure it's not part of the tape that's made available to... There are certain subjects... Let me...
RM: Let me rephrase my point...
RM: Yeah. Just let me rephrase my point.
INT: ... they're broader than Vietnam, they're outside of Vietnam. Was the Cold War necessary? What did it achieve? ... What was the most dangerous point? These are overall, they're not Vietnam questions, they're questions... We have a programme on conclusions. So, if we can turn over.
RM: No, wait a minu.
INT: No? OK.
RM: Just as Castro and Khrushchev believed we intended to invade Cuba, when we had no intention to invade Cuba, I think Khrushchev believed the West threatened the East more than we did threaten. And secondly, I believe, or my hypothesis is, that they did not threaten us as much as we thought they did. But when you face Vietnam and Cuba and the Middle East, and you damn near come to war over it, you have some reason for thinking that. But still... and in a sense you could say: how do I reconcile the statement that we came close to war on three occasions, with my other statement that I think we may have exaggerated the threat of the Cold War? What did George Kennan say to that, just...?
INT: It was done last week, the George Kennan [interview], and I do not know how he has... Most people have said the Cold War was inevitable, that the two line-ups of Marxist Leninism and democracy in the West, that they were going to face themselves off, and they would have to face themselves off...
INT: No, no...
RM: I'll bet you that Kennan didn't say that.
INT: No, no, no, sure. I'm saying what most people...
RM: Yeah. Most... Well, you see, I would disagree with most people, but I was not then, and I'm not today, enough of a scholar to be... and particularly, I haven't had access recently to the most recent scholarly thinking, to be certain of my conclusions. So I don't want to answer it at all.
INT: No problem. You've answered us very fully on all the things that... We can wrap up now, gentlemen.