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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A At The Brink; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [1]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


For nearly half a century, Paul Nitze was one of the chief architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union. In the interview he discusses America’s nuclear posture under the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations. He describes his immediate reaction against John Foster Dulles’ massive retaliation strategy. He explains the Gaither Committee Report, his role in shaping its content, and Eisenhower’s reaction to it. He discusses the Berlin Crisis of 1961 and explains the options available to the United States at the time. He describes the transition from the Eisenhower to Kennedy administration, focusing on the nuclear strategy of Robert McNamara. He supported the counterforce doctrine and military build up, although he also goes into detail about budgetary concerns, noting that balance that needs to be struck between what nuclear forces are desirable and what the country can afford. He describes McNamara’s shift in policy from counterforce to mutual assured destruction (MAD). He concludes by noting that the nuclear posture of the United States suffered during the late ‘60s and early ‘70s because so many of the resources were being poured into the Vietnam War.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Bigger Bang for the Buck, A At The Brink
Program Number

103 105


Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [1]

Series Description

The first atomic explosion in the New Mexico desert on July 16, 1945, changed the world forever. This series chronicles these changes and the history of a new era. It traces the development of nuclear weapons, the evolution of nuclear strategy, and the politics of a world with the power to destroy itself.

In thirteen one-hour programs that combine historic footage and recent interviews with key American, Soviet, and European participants, the nuclear age unfolds: the origin and evolution of nuclear weapons; the people of the past who have shaped the events of the present; the ideas and issues that political leaders, scientists, and the public at large must confront, and the prospects for the future. Nuclear Age highlights the profound changes in contemporary thinking imposed by the advent of nuclear weapons. Series release date: 1/1989



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Nuclear warfare
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
Sprague, Robert C. (Robert Chapman), 1900-
Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Nuclear weapons
Wohlstetter, Albert J.
North Atlantic Treaty Organization
United States
Soviet Union
Warsaw Treaty Organization
Gaither Report (1957)
Nuclear survivability
Antimissile missiles
McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
McCloy, John J. (John Jay), 1895-1989
Mutual assured destruction
Massive retaliation (Nuclear strategy)
Kaufmann, William W.
Bowie, Robert R. (Robert Richardson), 1909-
Berlin (Germany) -- History-- Crisis, 1961
Kaysen, Carl
Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959
Counterforce (Nuclear strategy)
Berlin (Germany)
United States. Air Force
Washington, DC
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Nitze, Paul H. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A At The Brink; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [1],” 03/10/1986, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed May 28, 2020, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_26014BC781A142EBB17DF63F3D474CE3.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A At The Brink; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [1].” 03/10/1986. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. May 28, 2020. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_26014BC781A142EBB17DF63F3D474CE3>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A At The Brink; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [1]. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_26014BC781A142EBB17DF63F3D474CE3
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