In July 1967, with all the recent developments in the Middle East, the riots throughout America and escalating dissent towards the Vietnam War, Secretary of State Dean Rusk still maintained the eroding position that the majority of Americans supported the War and it was only a small "marginal" segment of the population trying to end it and get us out of there.
This interview from Face The Nation on July 30, 1967, features a trio of reporters - Marvin Kalb, Murray Marder and Martin Agronsky. They tried for some clarification from Rusk that our Foreign Policy was indeed going in the right direction and that the seemingly rampant violence hitting our cities was only a minor blemish on the bigger picture.
Dean Rusk: “I think they know enough about us to know that these riots have nothing to do with the situation that they face in Vietnam and their ambitions to take over South Vietnam by force. We’ve had some indication that they are becoming a little more sophisticated about the American political system and that they know that these marginal dissents and these minority views do not represent the United States or its policy or its determination. I think it would be a great mistake for them to think they get any comfort out of what has happened here recently in some of our cities. Obviously in their propaganda they are trying to use it to our disadvantage and this is happening also in Peking and Havana and Moscow.”
The only problem was, it was far from true and the level of dissent towards the war was escalating at a rapid rate. It was easy in 1964 to label dissent towards the war in Vietnam as marginal - only a comparatively few people actually knew there was war going on before the Gulf of Tonkin incident. But as the war dragged on and as casualty reports kept coming in (even though they were shaded in number so as to appear not so bad), it was hard to justify being there by 1967. The notion that billions of dollars were being spent on a War in Southeast Asia while our own cities languished in depressed times seemed wildly inexcusable. Despite the fact that a bastion of hawks and supporters of the war insisted it wasn't, the war was quickly becoming lost to the vast majority of American people. Particularly those who had sons fighting, or who were becoming of draft age and were facing the daunting prospects of being another number on the casualty lists.
But they tried to paint a rosy picture and they tried to say it was not what the majority really wanted. And Dean Rusk was somehow stuck propping up a rapidly weakening position.