War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Gene R. LaRocque, 1986
Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.
Gene La Rocque was a career naval officer who worked in the Strategic Plans Directorate of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff in the 1950s. He retired as a rear admiral. In the interview he recalls that during the Qemoy and Matsu crisis of 1958, the Navy discovered that its aircraft carriers had gradually converted to nuclear armaments, which meant that the U.S. could not have waged a significant conventional war if called upon. This was partly a function of the view that the Soviet Union was the United States only serious enemy. In addition, most in the military simply believed it was a good idea to acquire as many nuclear weapons as possible. He acknowledges that he and other planners, including John Eisenhower, the presidents son, agreed that nuclear arms were going to be a permanent feature and therefore should be built into U.S. war plans. He goes on to explain the relationships between the branches of the military, each of which vied for preeminence and believed it could win a war without the other branches. For its part, the Navys tactic was to make its nuclear submarines dual purpose, allowing them to handle the needs of both strategic bombing and naval warfare, so that the Strategic Air Command would not be able to take over its forces. Adm. La Rocque also explains President Eisenhowers relationship with the military. He notes the latters largely unconstrained access to weapons procurement during the 1950s, backed strongly by the likes of John Foster Dulles and occurring to some degree without the full awareness of President Eisenhower. He then compares that era to the militarys relationship with Secretary of Defense McNamara, who came in and said enough is enough.
- War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
- Bigger Bang for the Buck, A
- Program Number
Interview with Gene R. LaRocque, 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
For the destructive power they deliver, nuclear weapons are cheap and efficient. In the 1950’s the United States begins to rely on nuclear, rather than conventional, weapons for its defense.
As nuclear policy evolved during the Eisenhower Administration, three factors combined to produce a new American reliance on nuclear weapons: pressure to control the federal budget (the “bigger bang” argument); competition as each branch of the American military adapted nuclear weapons to its mission; and Soviet bluffs that fueled American fears about a “bomber gap” and later a “missile gap.” On October 4, 1957, Sputnik, the Soviet satellite that was the first to orbit Earth, shocked Americans and delighted the Soviets. A month later, the Soviets launched Sputnik 2 with a dog on board. Both the Soviets and the Americans knew that a booster capable of carrying a dog into space could also deliver a nuclear warhead across a continent in 30 minutes.
- Asset Type
- Media Type
- United States. Air Force
- Dulles, John Foster, 1888-1959
- United States. Navy
- Nuclear warfare
- Eisenhower, John S. D., 1922-
- Military weapons
- Nuclear weapons
- Burke, Arleigh A., 1901-1996
- Polaris (Missile)
- McNamara, Robert S., 1916-2009
- Soviet Union
- Gavin, James M. (James Maurice), 1907-1990
- United States. Army
- United States
- Eisenhower, Dwight D. (Dwight David), 1890-1969
- United States. Joint Chiefs of Staff
- Taylor, Maxwell D. (Maxwell Davenport), 1901-1987
- United States. Air Force. Strategic Air Command
- Washington, DC
- War and Conflict
- Global Affairs
- La Rocque, Gene R. (Gene Robert), 1918- (Interviewee)
- Publication Information
- WGBH Educational Foundation
- Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Gene R. LaRocque, 1986,” 03/11/1986, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023, http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_AAD20E23F2A944B48EEE1C7A08B98C43.
- MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Gene R. LaRocque, 1986.” 03/11/1986. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_AAD20E23F2A944B48EEE1C7A08B98C43>.
- APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Bigger Bang for the Buck, A; Interview with Gene R. LaRocque, 1986. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from http://openvault.wgbh.org/catalog/V_AAD20E23F2A944B48EEE1C7A08B98C43