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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Robert Bowie, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Robert Bowie was the Chairman of the Policy Planning Staff, U.S. State Department, from 1953-1957. In the interview he discusses President Eisenhower’s Atoms for Peace proposal, presented to the United Nations in 1953. He explains that Eisenhower hoped the proposal would be an alternative to larger, unworkable plans, that it would serve as a starting point for further negotiations with the Soviets and that it would help overcome suspicions between the two sides. While not “primarily” a propaganda piece, the proposal did also aim at showing the U.S. in a positive light on the issue. Mr. Bowie also discusses the process of formulating the proposal, which took months because both the State and Defense Departments had concerns – the former because it wanted to focus on getting Germany into NATO, the latter because it did not want anything to interfere with the development of the New Look strategy. Atoms for Peace was not initially aimed at proliferation but by leading to the creation of the International Atomic Energy Agency, it has had a great impact over time, according to Mr. Bowie.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Carter's New World
Program Number



Interview with Robert Bowie, 1987

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

President Carter comes to office determined to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and to improve relations with the Soviet Union. His frustrations are as grand as his intentions.

Carter had hoped the United States and the Soviet Union would reduce their reliance on nuclear weapons. He stopped production of the B-1 bomber. He believed the SALT II negotiations would be a step toward eliminating nuclear weapons. But his intentions were frustrated by Soviet actions and by a lack of consensus among his own advisors, including Chief SALT II negotiator Paul Warnke and national security advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski (who was dubious about arms control). Carter balanced Soviet aggression in Africa by improving American relations with China. He withdrew SALT II treaty from Senate consideration but its terms continued to serve as general limits on strategic nuclear force levels for both the United States and the Soviet Union.



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Raw video

Media Type


Nuclear weapons
Strauss, Lewis
Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
United States
United Nations
Atoms for Peace (U.S.)
Nuclear arms control
Soviet Union
Jackson, C. D. (Charles Douglas), 1902-1964
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Bowie, Robert R. (Robert Richardson), 1909- (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Robert Bowie, 1987,” 11/12/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Robert Bowie, 1987.” 11/12/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Carter's New World; Interview with Robert Bowie, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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