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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Marshall Shulman, 1986

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Marshall Shulman was the founding director of the W. Averell Harriman Institute for Advance Study of the Soviet Union at Columbia University, and served as special adviser on Soviet Affairs to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance during the Carter Administration. He begins by discussing the ill-fated Vance mission to Moscow in early 1977, then moves to an assessment of different levels of concern in the United States about Soviet missile developments, and of what the Soviets were actually up to. He follows with a broad discussion about security concerns in the late 1970s, which leads to a discussion of how the MX came about. The interview turns to Soviet activities in the Horn of Africa and to the question of whether Moscow actually had a grand strategy (which he doubts). He walks through how different views on the subject translated into different proposed counter-strategies, and how these various notions were expressed by Zbigniew Brzezinski and the National Security Council staff, versus the State Department. He discusses the latter's attitudes toward linkage, then goes on to explain specific policy issues such as the Cuba brigade and playing the China card. He makes the argument that fears about major Soviet geopolitical gains at the time were, in retrospect, greatly exaggerated.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Haves and Have-Nots
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Interview with Marshall Shulman, 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

A case study of the dynamics of nuclear proliferation: China triggers India and India triggers Pakistan in the competition to have their own nuclear weapons.

In 1953 President Eisenhower announced the Atoms for Peace program. This marked a total reversal of American foreign policy. Americans would give material to allow countries to build reactors. “So overnight we passed from nuclear middle age to nuclear renaissance,” recalls French atomic scientist Bertrand Goldschmidt. The Soviet Union started its own program and helped China learn to build a bomb. The first Chinese nuclear blast was in 1964. Indian defense expert K. Subrahmanyam recalls that a nuclear China prompted India to set off a “peaceful” nuclear explosion in 1974. “There is no such thing as a peaceful nuclear explosion,” responds General A. I. Akram of the Armed Forces of Pakistan. “’74 was a watershed. It brought the shadow of the bomb to South Asia, and that shadow is still there.”



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Raw video

Media Type


Strategic Arms Limitation Talks
Mengistu Haile-Mariam, 1937-
Jackson, Henry M. (Henry Martin), 1912-1983
Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeevich, 1894-1971
Dobrynin, Anatoly, 1919-2010
Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 1928-
Soviet Union
Perle, Richard Norman, 1941-
Horn of Africa
Soviet Union. Treaties, etc. United States, 1972 May 26 (ABM)
Nuclear weapons
United States
United States. Dept. of State
Developing countries
Kissinger, Henry, 1923-
Committee on the Present Danger (U.S.)
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
Vance, Cyrus R. (Cyrus Roberts), 1917-2002
Antimissile missiles
Nuclear arms control
Nixon, Richard M. (Richard Milhous), 1913-1994
Gromyko, Andrei Andreevich, 1909-1989
War and Conflict
Global Affairs
Shulman, Marshall Darrow (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Marshall Shulman, 1986,” 11/11/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Marshall Shulman, 1986.” 11/11/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Haves and Have-Nots; Interview with Marshall Shulman, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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