Interview with Paul Nitze, 1988. [Part 5 of 5]
Paul Nitze held senior government posts that spanned nearly a half-century and nine presidents, from Harry S. Truman to Ronald Reagan. In the interview Nitze conducted for War and Peace in the Nuclear Age: "Visions of War and Peace," he discusses the purpose of arms control and his conclusions: that the United States and the Soviet Union must both be willing to settle for deterrence, and that to lessen the risk of war, reductions must have a "stabilizing" impact. Throughout the Cold War, Nitze was key in shaping U.S. attitudes toward Soviet intentions and capabilities. He recalls the shock of touring Hiroshima and Nagasaki just after World War II, when he was serving with the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. He and his team conducted extensive interviews and data analysis to recommend a framework for post-war military organization. Nitze also served as secretary of the navy (1963 to 1967); deputy secretary of defense (1967 to 1969); principal negotiator for the U.S. Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (1969 to 1973); head of the U.S. negotiating team at the Arms Control Talks, in Geneva (1981 to 1984); and ambassador-at-large (1984 to 1989). In his interview, he reflects on his analyses of the necessary levels and the proper mix of military forces both conventional and nuclear. He also highlights the immense effort needed to sustain preparedness in order to maintain security into the future. Known for his aggressive style and keen analytical abilities, Nitze describes the principles he used to guide crisis contingency planning throughout his career, the effectiveness of deterrence in preserving peace and liberty, and his approach to arms-control diplomacy as a way to attain U.S. strategic goals.
Nuclear weapons, Nuclear arms control
Negotiate from Power
I'd just like to know, what is the relationship between military force and power and diplomacy in the world? Do you see that ending--the relationship between those two?
Many people I think have misread the results of our long negotiation for an INF treaty. They draw the lesson that this... we're getting rid of nuclear weapons. And that therefore, the main object is to get rid of nuclear weapons. Just get rid of them. Unilaterally if necessary, but get rid of them. And I think they draw entirely the wrong lesson from that. How was it that we got rid of the INF missiles? Particularly the Soviet INF missiles? We got rid of them because of the fact that we had a clear idea, and our allies had a clear idea, and we worked together in order to get rid of those Soviet missiles. The Soviets deployed those missiles beginning in 1977. And there wasn't any real reason for them to deploy them. They were there to threaten our European allies. And our European allies and we decided that in order to get rid of those, two things were necessary. One was that we, the United States, must deploy INF missiles in Germany and in other countries of Europe ourselves. And then concurrently, we should enter into negotiations with the Soviet Union to see whether one can get rid of those missiles, the Soviet SS-20 missiles. And we did that. We began that negotiation in 1981. And for a long time, the Soviets would say, said no to every single one of our main propositions in those negotiations. And in 1983, just before we were about to deploy those first missiles, then they walked out of the negotiations full of threats. Full of saying, you'll never get them down. This will be a political disaster for you. We deploy many more of these missiles. We're putting them in the middle of the Atlantic. We're putting them in Czechoslovakia. We're putting them in Eastern Germany. And then they've, turned out that all the propaganda advantages they thought they were going to get from these threats, foundered. Because the European countries stood together and they're backed by their own populus. So by virtue of our continuing to deploy these missiles, and coupled with the political support both in the United States, but primarily in Europe. The Soviets saw that they were getting nowhere by this. And finally they began to give on each one of the points we were negotiation with. And we finally got the successful negotiation, and got rid of those missiles. The point I'm trying to make is you get rid of the Soviet threat not by unilateral removal of our... You get it by having adequate power yourself. And then negotiating intelligently on the basis of that power. And that's what we've got to do in the future is to both have an adequate defense, and negotiate intelligently.
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