WGBH Openvault

War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [2]

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Ray Cline was appointed the CIA's deputy director for intelligence in 1962. Cline's interview conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age: "At the Brink" explores how the ebullient mood of the new White House administration following the election of John F. Kennedy was quickly embittered by the Bay of Pigs defeat, the preoccupation with Cuba, and debate over how to organize anti-Castro opposition. He describes then–U.S. attorney general Robert Kennedy's concern for his brother's "redemption" and place in history following the Bay of Pigs, the failed U.S.-government-funded attempt to overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cline also discusses CIA director John McCone's unheeded warnings of offensive missiles in Cuba. McCone, who had become a close personal friend of Robert Kennedy, was known as a hawkish Republican, and Cline discusses how most seasoned officials all but ignored the now-famous "McCone Honeymoon Cables" on the grounds that the Soviet Union had never before placed offensive surface-to-surface weapons outside its national borders. Cline provides a CIA insider's perspective, offering insight on everything from the extensive covert operations against Fidel Castro, to the initial photographic evidence revealing Soviet missiles in Cuba, to the various response options weighed. Finally, Cline expands on his personal judgment that the resolution of the missile crisis was an "unexploited victory."

License Clip
Got it
War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Bigger Bang for the Buck, A
Program Number



Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [2]

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

For the destructive power they deliver, nuclear weapons are cheap and efficient. In the 1950’s the United States begins to rely on nuclear, rather than conventional, weapons for its defense.

As nuclear policy evolved during the Eisenhower Administration, three factors combined to produce a new American reliance on nuclear weapons: pressure to control the federal budget (the “bigger bang” argument); competition as each branch of the American military adapted nuclear weapons to its mission; and Soviet bluffs that fueled American fears about a “bomber gap” and later a “missile gap.” On October 4, 1957, Sputnik, the Soviet satellite that was the first to orbit Earth, shocked Americans and delighted the Soviets. A month later, the Soviets launched Sputnik 2 with a dog on board. Both the Soviets and the Americans knew that a booster capable of carrying a dog into space could also deliver a nuclear warhead across a continent in 30 minutes.



Asset Type

Raw video

Media Type


Cuban Missile Crisis, 1962
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
United States. Federal Bureau of Investigation
Bundy, McGeorge
Kennedy, John F. (John Fitzgerald), 1917-1963
United States
Castro, Fidel, 1926-
Moyers, Bill D.
World War II
Cuba -- History -- Invasion, 1961
McCone, John A. (John Alex), 1902-1991
United States. Central Intelligence Agency
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear arms control
McCone, John A. (John Alex), 1902-1991
Soviet Union
Nuclear weapons
Kennedy, Robert F., 1925-1968
Washington, DC
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Cline, Ray S. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [2],” 02/20/1986, WGBH Media Library & Archives, accessed December 11, 2018, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_AC083360A7F24B82873F6C1861204C0C.
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [2].” 02/20/1986. WGBH Media Library & Archives. Web. December 11, 2018. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_AC083360A7F24B82873F6C1861204C0C>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Ray Cline, 1986 [2]. Boston, MA: WGBH Media Library & Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_AC083360A7F24B82873F6C1861204C0C
If you have more information about this item, we want to know! Please contact us, including the URL.