Conversations with History: Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

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Reflections on the Vietnam War: Presidential Decisions and Public Dissent; Conversation with Daniel Ellsberg; 7/29/98 by Harry Kreisler

This interview is part of the Institute's "Conversations with History" series, and uses Internet technology to share with the public Berkeley's distinction as a global forum for ideas.

Welcome to a Conversation with History. I'm Harry Kreisler of the Institute of International Studies. Our guest is Daniel Ellsberg. An activist and strategic analyst, he was a key figure in the public protest to halt the Vietnam War. His leaking of the Pentagon Papers to The New York Times set in motion a series of events, including illegal actions by then-President Richard Nixon that led the president to resign his office rather than be impeached.

  1. Vietnam: First Look ... visit to Vietnam in 1961 ... Rand Report recommendations ... staying away from Vietnam
  2. Government Advisor ... presidential decision making in uncertainty ... working for the Defense Department ... the Gulf of Tonkin ... presidents lie ... back to Vietnam ... postponing defeat
  3. The Pentagon Papers ... McNamara's commission ... reading the Papers
  4. Background ... academic training ... field of interest
  5. Politics in Presidential Decision Making ... Vietnam ... the Cuban Missile Crisis ... the "rationality" of presidents
  6. The Decision to Protest Publicly ... Vietnamese people ... anticipating further escalation ... impact of the Pentagon papers
  7. Morality and Risk ... courage of those who went to jail ... no longer a "president's man" ... other kinds of courage
  8. The Responsibility of the Insider ... responsibility: example of McNamara ... virtue of tripartite government ... willingness to pay the price

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