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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Education of Robert McNamara, The; Sahara A-Blast: France Tests Her First Atomic Bomb

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.

02/15/1960

Deep in the Sahara Desert, France explodes her first atomic bomb, despite objections from the Afro-Asian nations and the disapproval of both the United States and Russia. A fireball with the destructive power of the Hiroshima A-bomb signals the French claim to membership in the "nuclear club" of nations.


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Series
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Program
Education of Robert McNamara, The
Program Number

106

Title

Sahara A-Blast: France Tests Her First Atomic Bomb

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

Program Description

In the 1960’s Secretary of Defense Robert Mcnamara confronts the possibility of nuclear war and changes his views on questions of strategy and survival.

McNamara was Secretary of Defense for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson from 1961 to 1968. By the 1960’s the Soviets’ increased nuclear capabilities raised disturbing questions. What would the United States do if attacked? American strategy had been “massive retaliation.” But, as McNamara explains, it became increasingly apparent to the Soviets that the US was unlikely to respond. If the United States did launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, the remaining Soviet forces would destroy the US. McNamara’s Defense Department developed a new strategy. “Flexible response” was based on a “ladder of escalation” from conventional to nuclear options. But by 1967, McNamara, who tried to create rules for limited nuclear war, concluded, “The blunt fact is that neither... can attack the other without being destroyed in retaliation. And it is precisely this ... that provides us both with the strongest possible motives to avoid a nuclear war.”

Duration

00:01:09

Asset Type

Stock footage

Media Type

Video

Subjects
Nuclear weapons
France
Nuclear weapons -- Testing
Genres
Documentary
Topics
Global Affairs
Science
History
War and Conflict
Contributors
Herlihy, Ed (Narrator)
Rights Summary

In perpetuity ; Public Domain Rights Holder: NARA

Citation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Education of Robert McNamara, The; Sahara A-Blast: France Tests Her First Atomic Bomb,” 02/15/1960, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 11, 2016, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8BF4C0A2C7804EB8B29DBF5D1E46E1F4.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Education of Robert McNamara, The; Sahara A-Blast: France Tests Her First Atomic Bomb.” 02/15/1960. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 11, 2016. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8BF4C0A2C7804EB8B29DBF5D1E46E1F4>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Education of Robert McNamara, The; Sahara A-Blast: France Tests Her First Atomic Bomb. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_8BF4C0A2C7804EB8B29DBF5D1E46E1F4
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