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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [2]

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. From 1950 to 1953, Nitze served as director of the State Department's Policy Planning staff, and from 1961 to 1963 he was assistant defense secretary. As his interview reveals, Nitze held key positions during the period after World War II when the United States emerged as a superpower and Cold War strategic policies were being debated and defined. His classified 1950 report, National Security Memorandum 68, remains a seminal document: it was initially designed to persuade President Harry S. Truman that an increasingly menacing world required major increases in spending on defense and foreign military assistance. He describes the American involvement in the Korean War and Berlin Blockade.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Weapon of Choice, The
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Interview with Paul Nitze, 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

The United States and the Soviet Union, former allies, become adversaries in a “Cold War,” and nuclear weapons become the weapon of choice for both sides.

From 1947 to 1953 the threat to use nuclear weapons became the principal currency of conflict. During the Korean War, Texas Congressman J. Frank Wilson said, “We are dealing with mad dogs ... we must treat them accordingly. I urge the atomic bomb be used if it can be used efficiently.” Against this background, President Harry Truman made crucial decisions that affected the history of the Nuclear Age. The United states deployed the B-36, a huge intercontinental bomber. It started mass production of atomic bombs. In 1952, the US exploded the first hydrogen bomb, a quantum leap in destructive force. Less than a year later, the Soviet Union exploded its own hydrogen bomb.



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Raw video

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Nagasaki-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Johnson, Louis Arthur, 1891-1966
Lilienthal, David Eli, 1899-1981
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945
Nuclear weapons
Korean War, 1950-1953
World War II
Truman, Harry S., 1884-1972
U.S. Atomic Energy Commission
Hydrogen bomb
United States
United States. Dept. of Defense
Teller, Edward, 1908-2003
United States. Dept. of State
MacArthur, Douglas, 1880-1964
Attlee, C. R. (Clement Richard), 1883-1967
Clay, Lucius D. (Lucius DuBignon), 1897-1978
Soviet Union
Washington, DC
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Nitze, Paul H. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [2],” 03/10/1986, GBH Archives, accessed January 17, 2022,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [2].” 03/10/1986. GBH Archives. Web. January 17, 2022. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Weapon of Choice, The; Interview with Paul Nitze, 1986 [2]. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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