Paul Warnke Text of Interview: March 22, 2001Dawn Bellinger2022-05-23T11:43:22-04:00
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27 ORAL HISTORY OF PAUL C. WARNKE – SECOND INTERVIEW MARCH 22, 2001 This is the second interview of Paul C. Warnke as part of the oral history project of the Historical Society of the District of Columbia Circuit. The interview is being taken by William Ross on Thursday, March 22, 2001 at 10:20 a.m. The persons present are Paul Warnke and William Ross. Mr. Ross: Paul, my cassette omitted some of your war history and rather than try to piece that together, I’d like to pick that up and go over it now before we return to your law practice in Covington and so on. You told us that you got into the service by subterfuge because of your blood pressure. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: And that you were in the Coast Guard which, at that time, was an integral part of the Navy and had been on a subchaser and subsequently on an LST. Mr. Warnke: After the subchaser, first a tanker and then an LST. Mr. Ross: Could you just run through that and I’ll pick up and ask you to amplify at certain points. Mr. Warnke: When I first got to the Pacific, I was on the U.S. Army Y19. The Coast Guard had been directed to take over from the Merchant Marine when we invaded the Pacific and, as a consequence, I was on an Army ship, it was a 167-foot tanker carrying aviation gasoline. Mr. Ross: Was the reason for that takeover that these ships were going to be 28 operating in war time and under fire in close coordination with other military forces? Mr. Warnke: Yes. Well, as I say, I was on the U.S. Army Y19 and let’s see — where did we go? Principally around New Guinea. We were in a Biar and in Noumea and then fighting in the invasion of the Philippines. I invaded the Philippines under tow. My tanker broke down. Mr. Ross: Oh, I see. So you had a seagoing tug or two? Mr. Warnke: That’s right. We had no steam and the tug pulled me in the middle of the harbor. Mr. Ross: I wasn’t in the invasion of the Philippines. I was in a fleet destroyer and they kept the carriers pretty far off shore. They were always afraid they were going to get one sunk. You were subject to air attack during that — Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: The Japanese still had some — Mr. Warnke: Oh yes. They had planes right up to the very end. We invaded Borneo, Balikpapen and Papua, New Guinea, and at that point, I had the LST, and we carried ammunition for the cruisers. We had one cruiser on one side and one cruiser on the other side when the Japanese flew over. I gave instructions, “Don’t ever fire at them, they might fire back.” So they tried to hit a couple of the cruisers and were shot down. Mr. Ross: It’s fortunate that they were after the war ships because, of course, while carrying ammunition, your ship was pretty vulnerable. Mr. Warnke: That’s right, but they didn’t know that. Mr. Ross: They didn’t know that. The cruiser, of course, has some armor in it. 29 Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: Give me a sense of your responsibilities. In effect, you were in command of a floating barge with a very dangerous cargo. Mr. Warnke: Well, I was not the skipper. Mr. Ross: You were number two? Mr. Warnke: I was one of the top officers. The number one was a guy from California who basically didn’t like being in the service, so he pretty much relinquished control to us. Mr Ross: That can be a very awkward thing. Mr. Warnke: It was awkward. It was very awkward because the crew didn’t like him. He didn’t like the crew and I had to pretend that I liked him. Mr. Ross: You liked him and got along with him. We had a skipper on the destroyer, a very fine man, Academy graduate, whose entire Navy career had been lighter than air, and his first surface command was a fleet destroyer, and that created a lot of problems. Mr. Warnke: I’ll bet it did. Mr. Ross: It worked out because of his personality and integrity. We would get into some difficult situations in handling. A destroyer is a hard vessel to handle in a lot of wind because of the high bow. He dealt with that very well and in certain circumstances he would say to our number two, “Mr. Freeze, I want you to take this boat. You’ve had a lot more experience than I have.” The interesting thing was that everybody respected that because of who he was. Go ahead a little bit and tell us what was it like. You were under fire, you were supporting these two war ships, you were close in — did you come in to the beach? 30 Mr. Warnke: They came alongside us and took it off. Mr. Ross: But you anchored? Mr. Warnke: Yep. Mr. Ross: And subject to whatever they could get in there to get you. Mr. Warnke: Right. Mr. Ross: That’s real war. What was your rank then, were you Senior Lieutenant? Mr. Warnke: Senior Lieutenant. Mr. Ross: You were not hit? Mr. Warnke: I was not. Mr. Ross: I mean your ship was not hit? Mr. Warnke: No. Mr. Ross: How long did that — I’m just trying to get a little feel — Mr. Warnke: Oh, not very long. The entire invasion didn’t take that long. Mr. Ross: We came into Samboanga in that area. Mostly to get water. Our watermaker had broken down. It was about eight months, nine months after those invasions. Samboanga was quiet with some facilities that the seabees had thrown up. It was basically just a little village. Very pretty at night — I remember that so well. What happened after this stint, where did you go and what did you do? Mr. Warnke: You mean after Borneo? Mr. Ross: After Borneo, yeah. Mr. Warnke: Well, as I think I mentioned before, they used the LST to pick up 31 Japanese who had been abandoned on the various islands, so we went to places like Biak. We had a couple of Japanese officers, and they would go through the jungle saying, “The Emperor wants you to return. The war is over.” They would all but drag the Japanese out of the forest. I think I mentioned that I had a picture at one point of me standing on the tank deck surrounded by these Japanese. They were very small back then. Mr. Ross: Some of them quite wide. Mr. Warnke: A matter of diet. I was startled on the way back when we stopped in Hawaii, and I had a Japanese girlfriend who was 5’7″, 5’8″, and I said, “What happened?” She said, “Diet.” And that of course was it, because now the Japanese are a fairly decent size. Back then they lived on rice. Mr. Ross: Not much protein. After you left this cargo ship, this ammunition carrier — Mr. Warnke: I never left it. Mr. Ross: You finished the war in it? Mr. Warnke: I finished the war in it and then, as I say, we were stationed in Leyte and were picking up Japanese and bringing them for shipment back to Japan. Instead of having tanks on the tank deck, we had ammunition. And we only had one casualty. The chief radio man. Lost his mind. He just lay in bed and couldn’t get up, and he wouldn’t talk. He kept rolling over and they kept trying to find out what was wrong with him. Another member of the crew said that he would lie there at night and hear the ammunition rattling around and it just got to him. We brought the destroyer back. We brought it back to Pearl and didn’t drydock it, 32 but they looked at some things that’d been giving us trouble, then we came back to San Diego, and my number wasn’t nearly as good as yours, so I was in San Diego for nine to ten months. We didn’t do much. My number was very poor. I didn’t get out of the service until a month before law school. Mr. Ross: Really? Mr. Warnke: Yeah, I was single through college, and I was in no hurry to get out. Mr. Ross: You were enjoying yourself. Mr. Warnke: I was enjoying myself, yeah. Mr. Ross: The girls. Mr. Warnke: The girls, yeah. Mr. Ross: And the uniform. Mr. Warnke: Right. Mr. Ross: Being a combat veteran. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. I had a very nice girlfriend in Charleston. God, I can’t remember her name now. Huh. Funny. Mr. Ross: It comes back. Mr. Warnke: Yeah, it will come back sometime at night. But she was very pretty and very nice. Mr. Ross: Let me ask you a meatball question. How much do you think that experience has stayed with you and has shaped you in any way? Mr. Warnke: It was not a very traumatic experience for me. The most traumatic experience was trying to get in the service. And once I was in, I was delighted, and I was in no 33 hurry to get out. I even gave passing thought to staying in. Mr. Ross: That was going to be my next question. Mr. Warnke: I enjoyed it and it was somewhat of a pleasant service. I liked the Coast Guard Academy. Mr. Ross: When you thought about staying in — Mr. Warnke: I didn’t really think seriously about it, it’s just that I enjoyed it much more than I had enjoyed banking before the war. Mr. Ross: I don’t know enough about your personal life. Were you a boater in your younger years? Mr. Warnke: We spent every summer at the beach when I was a child, and I spent a lot of time off the water — principally in motorboats. Later, after the war, we had a sailboat for a number of years. A lightning that we used to sail in the Potomac and I used to tow up to Cape Cod, up to Wellfleet. Mr. Ross: So you really were a sailor? Mr. Warnke: I was always a poor sailor. I wasn’t very good at it. Mr. Ross: Did you race the lightning? Mr. Warnke: Yeah. The principal ones who raced it were my kids. Maggie and Georgia were great racers, and we belonged to the Wellfleet Yacht Club, and they enjoyed that a lot. Mr. Ross: You had a cottage? Mr. Warnke: We rented one. Mr. Ross: How many years were you going up there? 34 Mr. Warnke: Oh Lord, let’s see. About, I’d say, more than 10 years. Mr. Ross: Well, let’s go on. I don’t want to talk about your children yet. I do want to talk about them in some length. We had been at the point where you had joined Covington and you’d spent some time as an associate lawyer and had become a partner and that was in 1957, I believe, that you became a partner in the firm. That’s at least the date I’ve got. You were with the firm from ’57-’66. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: And as a partner, and you had joined the firm in ’48. Mr. Warnke: ’48. Mr. Ross: So, you said that you’d work with Austern and Gesell and that you’d been in litigation and other matters. Can you give me a sense of who were the figures in the bar, both practitioners and judges, as well as inside your law firm, that were most significant to you personally and in your practice? Mr. Warnke: Primarily, Tommy Austern. He became not only my boss but a very good personal friend, and Gerry Gesell. And of course I thoroughly enjoyed Dean Acheson. He was not only famous, but he was fun. Mr. Ross: Yes. Mr. Warnke: Hugh Cox was also a very good lawyer. Mr. Ross: Let me pursue this a little bit more. Was there a judge, particularly one located here, that you remember either well or poorly or played a role in your life? Do you have any thoughts or memories of that sort? Mr. Warnke: I’m trying to think of a judge who was a local judge and who I tried 35 my first case before and I remember him saying, “Stand up straight, Mr. Warnke, and button your coat.” Mr. Ross: Sounds like Alexander Holtzoff. Mr. Warnke: It was. Mr. Ross: Or Walsh. Another one would be Judge Walsh. Mr. Warnke: No, it was Alexander Holtzoff. Mr. Ross: Holtzoff had a reputation (I certainly saw this in action) of developing a very firm opinion about a lawyer and his case early in day, and then you had two kinds of problems — one when he was against you, and then another problem — when he was too much for you. What experience did you have before him? Mr. Warnke: Not bad as a matter of fact. He was egotistical, but we got along perfectly alright. Mr. Ross: Well, that’s a credit to your hard work with him. Don Green, my partner, and I were trying a fairly important case — to a client, to an important case — before him — he developed an inexplicable liking for Donald Green. Mr. Warnke: Oh really? Mr. Ross: He was a charming fellow, but most of our strategic planning from then on was to try to avoid reversible error, which we did. Mr. Warnke: Right. Mr. Ross: So that was Judge Holtzoff. Were there other judges? Let me ask you this. Did you ever appear before your former partner, Judge Gesell? Mr. Warnke: No. I was in the government before that. 36 Mr. Ross: He could be quite an experience. I mean in a good way — an enormously sharp mind. Mr. Warnke: I liked Gerry. We got along quite well. We did a lot of work for DuPont, and he was pretty full of himself, but he was very good. He was almost as good as he thought he was. Mr. Ross: My partner, Steve Truitt, who clerked for him and also tried a number of cases before him said exactly the same thing. He certainly wasn’t afraid of anybody or anything. Mr. Warnke: No, not a thing, not a thing. Mr. Ross: How about government lawyers? Department of Justice, or in the agencies. Are there any that stick out in your mind? Mr. Warnke: I did a lot of work with Sigmund Timberg. Mr. Ross: Oh, I knew Sig very well. Go ahead. Mr. Warnke: We had settled a case for the American Can Company and Sig Timberg was the guy that sort of supervised that, and he and Tommy didn’t get along very well. I got along with him very well indeed. I thought he was a very, very decent guy. Mr. Ross: I knew Sig very well both personally and professionally, and I would say that the problem there might have been that they were too much alike. Mr. Warnke: They were too much alike. Mr. Ross: Did you ever have any run-ins with Vic Kramer in the Antitrust Division? Mr. Warnke: My principal contact with Vic Kramer was when I was representing 37 the Institute of Shortening and Edible Oils Inc., and he represented one of the big edible oils, but he was in private practice at that point. Mr. Ross: Arnold & Porter probably. Mr. Warnke: Yeah, Arnold & Porter. Who was it he represented? Oh well, in any event, we were on the same side, and he was convinced we were going to lose the case, so he tried very hard to settle it. Mr. Ross: I can see him in that role. I tried a private Article II case against him, and I was a much younger lawyer than he was, and one day he asked me to have lunch with him and this is right in the middle of the case. He said, “Ross, I’m going to tell you how this case is going to go and I’m going to tell you what we’re going to do.” He proceeded to describe what was going to happen, what the judge was going to do, and what so forth, the weaknesses in my case and the weakness in his and he said, “Why don’t we cut the tall and short and settle it right here?” Mr. Warnke: So did you get — Mr. Ross: No, but I thought about it long and hard and I met him again and I said, “Vic, I think you’ve got it right — everything except the damages.” We were the plaintiffs. He said, “Oh, I’ve got that all figured out. I’m going to put it in this envelope and seal it up and it will be what the damages should be.” I said there’s only one problem — our clients hate each other. My client hates your client, and this goes all the way back to high school and they want to fight. And I said I’ll do everything I can to promote it. Well, we settled the case and I opened the envelope, and he was within $25,000 of what we’d agreed to. I had not opened the envelope before that. 38 Mr. Warnke: I liked Vic. He was a nice fellow. He was shattered when his wife died. Absolutely shattered. Mr. Ross: How about the Solicitor General’s Office? Do you know any of those fellows up there? Mr. Warnke: Well, there was a good personal friend, Phil Elman. Mr. Ross: I worked with Phil in that office and when I was the senior partner in my law firm, he came in there as a counsel. I said, “Phil, now you work for me.” He made a bad noise in response to that. I liked him a lot. I also worked for Oscar Davis. Mr. Warnke: He was a nice fellow, too. Very very able. Died young as I recall. Mr. Ross: Fairly young. He was a judge of the Court of Claims. Mr. Warnke: Yeah, I know. Mr. Ross: Quickest mind I ever saw. Mr. Warnke: Yeah, he was very good. Mr. Ross: Think back a little about various cases — you’d mentioned the American Can case. How about Wonder Bread, Continental Baking Company? Tell me about that if there’s something to tell. Mr. Warnke: I’m trying to remember how I got into it. The Assistant General Counsel at that point was a fellow by the name of Roy Anderson, and he came in first of all to see Tommy Austern, and then he and I became quite good friends. It was principally food and drug cases, and the Food and Drug Administration was very concerned about the fact that Wonder Bread advertised in a way that was inconsistent with their standards. They wanted Wonder Bread to admit that it was white bread, and Wonder Bread’s advertising intimated it — 39 indicated it was something better than white bread, so we litigated that for a while. Finally settled it. I was trying to remember who it was that represented the government at that point. Mr. Ross: Was that a Trade Commission matter or a Department of Justice? Mr. Warnke: Could be with both, Trade Commission and then the Department of Justice and then a state court. It was first state court case I ever tried. Mr. Ross: Where was that? Mr. Warnke: I’m trying to remember. It was some local trial court in Indiana or Ohio — they’re all the same to me. Mr. Ross: Did you settle that case? Mr. Warnke: Yeah, we settled it. The judge came up with a proposed settlement which was so good, there was no reason in the world not to accept it. Mr. Ross: Then Procter & Gamble. That was some criminal involvement, ’62 and ’63. Mr. Warnke: I’m trying to remember just what we did do for them. Mr. Ross: What you say in this oral history is you represented in those years P&G in connection with some criminal antitrust cases in California involving shortening and edible oils. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: And the contention was that they were in a price fixing conspiracy. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: And you mentioned Warren Christopher. Mr. Warnke: Yeah, Christopher and I represented the same company. 40 Mr. Ross: Right. So you were co-counsel. Mr. Warnke: We were co-counsel. Mr. Ross: That sounds like a serious case — a big company. Mr. Warnke: A number of big companies. Mr. Ross: A number including P&G. Mr. Warnke: Lever Brothers. Mr. Ross: That’s probably called the edible oils case or something. I don’t have any familiarity with it, and price fixing. Put your mind back in that time to the extent you can and how did that work out? Mr. Warnke: I think the case was settled, and on terms that were very favorable. Mr. Ross: That would have been the Department of Justice? Mr. Warnke: The Department of Justice. I’m trying to remember the Department of Justice lawyer. I can see him, but I can’t remember his name. Mr. Ross: You also mentioned the Congress of Micronesia. That sounds fascinating. You represented the Congress of Micronesia. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: Tell me about that. Mr. Warnke: Well, the question was what was going to be the status of Micronesia. Was it going to be an independent country, was it going to be affiliated with the United States, and there was somewhat a split of opinion about it. There were really a number of different races. They had a collection of islands, but not very many people, but they were quite different, and there was one big group that was centered in Saipan. 41 Mr. Ross: That’s the Marianas? Mr. Warnke: The Marianas, that’s right. The Marianas split off from the rest of Micronesia and became really a territory of the United States. I remember it well because I had the Micronesians here one night and Howard Willens, who lived down the street, was there and became friendly with the guy who was the chief negotiator for the Marianas, and then he represented the Marianas. He and his wife recently wrote a book about the Marianas. Mr. Ross: I haven’t read it. Mr. Warnke: Diane Siemer. Mr. Ross: I know her and I know him. Those islands have had a checkered history. Mr. Warnke: Oh, very checkered. Well, of course, they were occupied by Japan during the war and then the question was were they going to be independent or were they going to have some kind of continuing relationship with the United States. They eventually opted for independence. Mr. Ross: So you were advising them. Mr. Warnke: That’s correct. Mr. Ross: And also perhaps negotiating for them. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: And that would involve a lot more than legal consideration. Mr. Warnke: Oh yeah, right. Mr. Ross: A sense of what they needed. Mr. Warnke: Right. 42 Mr. Ross: What their future would be. What their capabilities were. Mr. Warnke: Right. I spent a fair amount of time there. Mr. Ross: Did you go out there? Mr. Warnke: Oh, yeah. Mr. Ross: They’re quite different. You can’t lump them together. Mr. Warnke: Oh yeah, but they’re quite different. I remember one time Jean and the kids and I were in Mexico and I had to go from Mexico to Micronesia — one of the longest trips known to man. When you get to Hawaii you’re half-way there. Mr. Ross: Have you had in more recent years any association with people or entities that were involved in that, or is that just something that — Mr. Warnke: That’s something in the past. Mr. Ross: In the past. Mr. Warnke: Yes. A colleague of mine at Clifford & Warnke, a fellow by the name of Jim Stovall, worked with me on the case. My memory fails me, but as I say I went from Mexico to Micronesia. I’m trying to remember where I went in Micronesia. It wasn’t even the main part of Micronesia. It was one of the places we bypassed. Mr. Ross: Truk, you bypassed. Mr Warnke: Yeah, Truk, and this was sort of south of Truk. Mr. Ross: You say that in 1970 you represented the Iranian government in connection with creating a telecommunications system. This involved negotiating some agreements? Mr. Warnke: Yeah, that’s right. 43 Mr. Ross: Could you tell me about that? Mr. Warnke: I’m trying to remember who it was I negotiated with. Mr. Ross: Siemens is the German. Mr. Warnke: They were part of the consortium that was going to put together the telecommunications system. Mr. Ross: The Shah was still there. Mr. Warnke: The Shah was still there. I met with the Shah from time to time, but my principal contact was the Prime Minister Hoveida who was a very nice fellow who after the Shah was deposed, was in prison, and then executed. Mr. Ross: Oh, my. That must give one a funny feeling. Mr. Warnke: It did. He was a very decent fellow. Mr. Ross: Did this result in the creation of a telecommunications system? Mr. Warnke: I think it did. But I think it was in the midst of that that I went into the Carter Administration. Mr. Ross: You had this interesting international involvement. A few years before you actually went into the government, you were involved with a Department that, of course, has all kinds of international involvement. Is it the case that you became general counsel and then a year or so later became — Mr. Warnke: Assistant Secretary. Mr. Ross: After you left Covington, were there some significant professional associations or continuing associations with that firm? Mr. Warnke: Not while I was in the government. They were very scrupulous 44 about that, and so was I. Never talked about anything that had to do with my professional work. Of course I worked for people I thought the world of, Bob McNamara and Cy Vance, and they were very scrupulous too. Extremely. We remain very good friends. Of course I went back into the government at Cy’s request when he was Secretary of State. Mr. Ross: Well, let’s move on to your first involvement in the government. You went into the Department as General Counsel. That must have been quite an experience, maybe not for you, but just the experience — Mr. Warnke: It was a great experience, but you realize that the General Counsel as far as Bob McNamara was concerned was sort of a utility infielder. There was a Deputy General Counsel, Leonard Niederlehner, and Len really ran the legal department. He was very, very good, very easy to work with, and a nifty fellow. I became personally very fond of him. Mr. Ross: So you were working closely with — Mr. Warnke: Cy Vance and with Bob McNamara. Mr. Ross: And this was your first taste — first government position? Mr. Warnke: Oh, yes. Mr. Ross: You started high. Mr. Warnke: Well, I was fairly old by that point. Mr. Ross: How old were you do you think? Mr. Warnke: Let’s see, that would have been in — Mr. Ross: The date would be ’67. That’s easy enough. Mr. Warnke: Late ’40s. Mr. Ross: Peak of one’s abilities for most people. What were the reasons for 45 your appointment, first as General Counsel, and then subsequently — Mr. Warnke: Well, I was very interested in getting into the government when Kennedy was elected, and they offered me the job of General Counsel of the Army, and I figured I was too old not to have a position that required confirmation, and that was a non-confirmation position, so I turned that down. Then I was offered Assistant Secretary of Defense for Civil Defense, and Bob McNamara called me about it. I said, “Bob, you’ve come up with the one job that I can’t take.” The idea of a civil defense makes me presume there were triggers in the United States which there were not. Mr. Ross: Telling people to get under desks. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. That’s right. So then I waited and John McNaughton was the General Counsel, and then became the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, and I was named to replace him when I was General Counsel, when he was named Secretary of the Navy. Then he was killed in a plane crash. Mr. Ross: I had forgotten that. Mr. Warnke: It was I think in the Carolinas, and the plane was hit by a private plane, so he was killed, his wife was killed, and one of their boys was killed. Mr. Ross: So you came in and worked, as you say, closely with McNamara. Mr. Warnke: And Cy Vance. Mr. Ross: What was the political atmosphere there in those two years. We’re talking about ’67-’69? Mr. Warnke: Right. Mr. Ross: Johnson was President. 46 Mr. Warnke: That’s correct. Mr. Ross: What were you concerned about particularly in those two positions? Mr. Warnke: As General Counsel I was primarily concerned with whatever it was that Bob and Cy asked me to do. As I say I was a utility infielder. Len basically ran the legal part of it. Mr. Ross: You must have had a fair amount of dealings with the President’s staff and, at some extent with the President. Mr. Warnke: Not much with the President. Mr. Ross: Not much with the President. Who on the staff can you recall that you’d deal with on a day-to-day basis. Mr. Warnke: Harry McPherson. Mr. Ross: And you were getting involved, I suppose, to some significant extent, in arms control. Mr. Warnke: Yeah. Mr. Ross: What can you tell me about the flavor of your experience, putting it in a personal context and the people who were most important to you, obviously McNamara was very important to you. Mr. Warnke: Yeah. Mr. Ross: And Vance. Search your mind in that area if you will. Mr. Warnke: Well, Harry McPherson was very much involved. Mr. Ross: Let me stimulate you a little bit. In the interview that we referred to that’s going to be attached to this transcript, you talk about foreign policy being made in what 47 was known as the Tuesday lunch, when Johnson would have lunch with the Secretary of State and so forth, including the Secretary of Defense. Much of your job was getting McNamara ready for the Tuesday lunch. And then you said NATO was very important and, of course, there was the Vietnam War. Mr. Warnke: Overriding — Mr. Ross: Overriding concern. Were you very much involved in that? Mr. Warnke: Quite a bit, yes. Mr. Ross: What can you recall was the most salient thing? Mr. Warnke: Well, when I was asked by Bob McNamara to join the Department, I said I’d be delighted to do it, but he had to realize that I was strongly opposed to the Vietnam War. I thought it was a terrible, terrible mistake. He said that that doesn’t matter, would you take the job? I hadn’t realized that Bob felt very much the same way about it. But he felt a great sense of guilt. He thought, and to some extent he was right, that when Lyndon Johnson took over as President, he really didn’t know a thing about foreign policy. As a Senator, it had not been a field in which he had any real interest, and as a consequence, he depended very heavily on Bob, on Dean Rusk — Maxwell Taylor was also very important at that point, and that was basically the Tuesday lunch. Walt Rostow was also involved and he believed until the very end, in fact beyond the very end, that was a very noble cause and we were perfectly right to go on. Mr. Ross: I was asking you about the relationships that you had in your Assistant Secretary job which was a very key position at that point, and about the Vietnam War, and you were talking about McNamara’s sense of guilt, and if you could pick up on that. Mr. Warnke: Well, I think that he had basically been one of the ones that 48 persuaded Johnson that the war was a very good idea. Many people at that time had changed their mind. Dean Rusk never did. Went to his grave convinced that this was a worthy thing to do. But he was strongly marked by the loss of China. He was in the State Department at that time and worked for whoever was the Assistant Secretary of State. Mr. Ross: Oh, it was — I’m remembering what he looked like. Mr. Warnke: So can I. Mr. Ross: Let me pause just for a minute. We’re now going to be going into — I hope with some detail — very important things in the public sphere which you participated in. You’re a reflective man who had extraordinary public service. From a standpoint of a historian reading your oral history, the most useful thing they look for is off-the-record, personal kind of recollections that perhaps would never appear even if you wrote memoirs. People are sensitive about such matters. It may be that you can bare your bosom on individuals without concern because time has passed. Or it could be that there are things that you would say but that you would want to put a hold on. Say I’ll ask you about Paul Nitze. You have a public position on Nitze, you’d probably start out by saying he’s a very fine fellow. You may also have some private thoughts about him. I’m not suggesting there would be anything negative there — he’s a very fine man. You may feel a little ill at ease about putting those private thoughts on the record, but obviously to someone looking at this 25 years from now, that sensitivity would be very muted. So you can put this line of questioning under wraps, which means that it’s marked, and does not appear in the public transcripts, but it will be released and go into the file at a later time that you designate — 5 years, 10 years, or “after my death.” So keep that in mind as we go on. Were you involved in politics during this period? 49 Mr. Warnke: Involved in what way? (Start of Tape 3) Mr. Ross: You were concerned as the Secretary of State for the Department of Defense with the impact of something like the Vietnam War on your day-to-day activities with the Department, but in terms of the national politics in the nation, were you consulted? Did you have significant conversations? Did you take a stance, or — Mr. Warnke: Well, of course I dealt with McNamara and with Vance. Mr. Ross: And so, your role here was as a legal and political advisor — Mr. Warnke: Advisor, that’s right. I think I told you that when Bob asked me to become General Counsel, I said I would be delighted, but you had to realize that I was against the war. He said that didn’t matter, and I did take the job. So, I came in with everybody knowing that I was opposed to the war. And I was not alone. The Defense Department, by and large, was antiwar. Mr. Ross: This is getting into what’s going to be, I think, some of the most interesting areas. I’m going to want to pursue it to the extent that your patience will permit me. In other words, you had a Department with a civilian staff at the higher levels that had considerable doubts. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: Not all of them, but many of them. Were you constrained, or you and they constrained as to talking about these things? Mr. Warnke: No, we talked quite freely with McNamara. Mr. Ross: So, you were saying to them on this a background basis, we think — 50 Mr. Warnke: We’re too much involved; could we get less involved — Mr. Ross: What we’re trying to accomplish perhaps is not practically the thing available to us. Mr. Warnke: I think of the time when I first went to Vietnam. I was still General Counsel, but had been named to succeed John McNaughton. So, basically I had nothing I had to do in Vietnam. So, the guy who was then in charge of Vietnam for the White House, Bill somebody or other, said, “Why don’t we get a helicopter, and take a tour?” So, we got a helicopter and took a tour. I think I may have told you this before. Mr. Ross: That’s all right. Mr. Warnke: I went down to the IV corps, which was at the Delta. I think I mentioned that the first place we stopped was a little village. I got out and looked in one of the houses, and there were two pictures on the wall. One was Jack Kennedy. The other was Ho Chi Minh. So, when I came back McNamara asked me to write up my impressions, and I wrote up my impressions, and said basically that we’re waging a successful occupation of Vietnam. Mr. Ross: That’s a good way of describing it. Mr. Warnke: But, as far as making a real difference, I said there isn’t any South Vietnam, which there was not. There was Saigon and there were the people that were in it, heading up Saigon. Let’s see, who was the chief guy then, at that point? Mr. Ross: I’d like to help you there, and I remember two names but I can’t come up with them. Was it your feeling that the leadership which was cooperating with the U.S. in the war activities did not have sufficient support from its people to make this whole operation feasible? 51 Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: Or, how would you describe it? Mr. Warnke: I would say that they ran Saigon, and that was it. Mr. Ross: That was it, and they ran Saigon because we had over 100,000 troops in the country. What was the feeling in the uniform military? Mr. Warnke: They were doing what they had been told to do. And they convinced themselves that it was right. Mr. Ross: Was there a significant figure in the military that you were involved with? It probably would have been a general, because of the nature of it. It probably could be an air general or land general. Mr. Warnke: It was the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. Mr. Ross: Was basically opposed to the war and took that position — Mr. Warnke: He was doing what he was told to do. Mr. Ross: Didn’t question it. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. What was his name? Earle Wheeler? Mr. Ross: Did you ever have any private conversations with the military that — Mr. Warnke: Well, I met every Thursday morning with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs with the idea of trying to come up with a common position because then we had the “nongroup” that met on Thursday evenings. It was convened by Nick Katzenbach, and it consisted of Bill Bundy, McGeorge Bundy, the General, Walt Rostow, the head of the CIA and me. Mr. Ross: That’s a pretty substantial group, and what kind of policies or 52 agreements were coming out of that group? Mr. Warnke: Well, we talked about everything, and the problem was that there was just a deep division. For Walt Rostow was convinced that we were perfectly correct. And, the principal advisor to Dean Rusk — Dean was not part of the Thursday group — his deputy was Nick Katzenbach, and it was Nick’s idea. Mr. Ross: What was Nick Katzenbach’s position on the war? Mr. Warnke: Very much the same as mine. Mr. Ross: As yours. Mr. Warnke: Yes, he just thought it was a terrible mistake. We never should have gotten into it. Mr. Ross: Did you have a grasp at that point of the President’s position and any direct knowledge or indirect, for that matter, coming through, since the President’s views on this were obviously of great importance? Mr. Warnke: Well, what I gathered from Bob McNamara was that the President had deep reservations about the war until he got into it, and then he was committed. Mr. Ross: Once he was committed, the door was closed. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. We had to win. Mr. Ross: To win. Mr. Warnke: Yes. Mr. Ross: It couldn’t be the first war that the United States never won. Mr. Warnke: Which is what you said. He wasn’t going to be the first American President to lose a war. 53 Mr. Ross: Did you read McNamara’s book, the last one he published? Mr. Warnke: Yes. Mr. Ross: Does that jog anything? Mr. Warnke: Not really, but for the real sense of guilt about the war. Mr. Ross: Clearly. Mr. Warnke: He was one of the ones who shaped Johnson’s thinking, which was true. Johnson thought very highly of him. Mr. Ross: He had a close personal relationship in some ways with Johnson. Mr. Warnke: He did. He did. Mr. Ross: As much as anybody did. Mr. Warnke: It’s sort of interesting. Have you heard Michael Beschloss’s recording? Mr. Ross: Some of it. Mr. Warnke: It’s very interesting. The ones between Johnson and McNamara are very good. I’m proud of McNamara anyway, but when you listen to them, you’re even prouder because a lot of the others were really ass kissers, he was not. Mr. Ross: He was not. Mr. Warnke: Even McGeorge Bundy was sort of subservient. Bob felt a deep sense of responsibility for having Johnson get into it. Mr. Ross: Let me press on this a little bit because of the public significance. Did McNamara to your knowledge ever make specific recommendations to Johnson on how you could get out of the war? 54 Mr. Warnke: I don’t know. Mr. Ross: Don’t know that. Mr. Warnke: McNamara never said anything about his conversations with the President. He had a strong sense that this was inappropriate. Although we prepared him for the Tuesday lunch, he would never give me a report as to what happened. Mr. Ross: That’s interesting because another man might be discussing those things with you in detail. Mr. Warnke: That’s right. Mr. Ross: So, you never saw a memorandum from McNamara to the President saying, “Mr. President, I appreciate the political problems, but here’s how you can get around them and get yourself extricated.” Mr. Warnke: He asked me to help write a memorandum to Johnson toward the end of — when was it that he left — I guess at the end of ’67? In November of 1967 he asked me to help him write a memorandum to Johnson, and we wrote a memorandum to Johnson, which basically said the war is a mistake. And the question is how do we get out of it. And Johnson read the memorandum and promptly named him the head of the World Bank. Mr. Ross: Strong personality, that President. Mr. Warnke: Very strong. (End of Interview #2)