War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Robert C. Richardson, 1986
Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.
Robert C. Richardson, III was a U.S. Air Force General whose areas of expertise from the 1950s to 1970s included tactical nuclear combat, long-range planning, and NATO issues. The interview covers each of those broad areas. One of the central questions is the impact of nuclear weapons on warfare. In addition, he discusses the idea behind the Lisbon Force Goals of 1952 and the underlying choice NATO members faced between expanding conventional forces and relying on nuclear weapons, which were largely untested at that point. He also explains the rapid growth in tactical warhead numbers in Europe over the next several years. Among other Europe-related topics, he covers the Multilateral Force, France's decision to leave NATO, and the failure of the European Defense Community. He makes the intriguing remark that the best planning for nuclear war was done before its impact was understood by the military bureaucracies. He also laments the difficulties of coordination among the services and explains the complexities of dealing with the impact of nuclear weapons on force posture.
- War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
- Europe Goes Nuclear
- Program Number
Interview with Robert C. Richardson, 1986
- 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
France and England rush to acquire their own nuclear weapons, NATO worries about the threat from the East, and Europe becomes the most nuclear-saturated place on Earth.
British and American scientists worked side by side to build the first nuclear bombs. “There was a strong desire on the British side for that collaboration to continue into peacetime. There was no such desire on the part of the United States,” recalls British diplomat Roger Makins, Lord Sherfield. Britain decided to proceed on its own and in 1952 joined the US and the Soviets in what pundits would call “the nuclear club.” General Charles De Gaulle, president of France, wanted to join the club, too, and not rely on the US for nuclear protection. Prestige was also an issue. In 1960, France exploded its first atomic weapon. Since World War II the Soviet Union had had a superiority in conventional forces in Europe. NATO countered by deploying thousands of nuclear weapons. “They were accepted as being perfectly reasonable weapons to use in a tactical battle in continental Europe,” said Sir Richard Powell of the British Defense Ministry.
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- Gaulle, Charles de, 1890-1970
- United States. Dept. of Defense
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization
- Flexible response (Nuclear strategy)
- Multilateral force (Nuclear strategy)
- McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
- United States. Navy
- United States. Army
- Nuclear weapons
- Warsaw Treaty Organization
- United States. Air Force
- Soviet Union
- United States
- Deterrence (Strategy)
- Strategic Defense Initiative
- Warfare, Conventional
- Norstad, Lauris, 1907-1988
- Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
- Tactical nuclear weapons
- Nuclear warfare
- Polaris (Missile)
- German rearmament
- Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986
- World War II
- United States. Air Force. Strategic Air Command
- Global Affairs
- War and Conflict
- Richardson, Robert (Robert Charlwood), 1918- (Interviewee)
- Publication Information
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Robert C. Richardson, 1986,” 12/11/1986, GBH Archives, accessed June 29, 2022, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4263A6DEAEC84E01A528C0238EC628B7.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Robert C. Richardson, 1986.” 12/11/1986. GBH Archives. Web. June 29, 2022. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4263A6DEAEC84E01A528C0238EC628B7>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Europe Goes Nuclear; Interview with Robert C. Richardson, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_4263A6DEAEC84E01A528C0238EC628B7