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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Douglas Waller, 1987

Part of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age.


Douglas Waller served as a legislative assistant on Representative Edward Markey's staff in the 1980s. In the interview he discusses the arms control debate in Congress during the Reagan Administration, especially the nuclear freeze issue. He depicts Congress at the beginning of the Reagan presidency, when Democrats like his boss were in the minority and hesitant to resist the new conservative momentum. He describes the small group of liberal legislators, including Markey, Senator Edward Kennedy, and Senator Mark Hatfield, who became involved with the Nuclear Freeze Movement and brought it into the national political arena. He describes Kennedy's major push to keep the freeze movement in the public eye, and the eventual passing of the joint resolution in 1983. He notes that the movement benefited from the Reagan Administration's initial criticisms of it; however, once Reagan began advocating for certain arms control measures, most of Middle America seemed satisfied, and the movement lost much of its momentum.

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War and Peace in the Nuclear Age
Missile Experimental
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Interview with Douglas Waller, 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

Does the United States really plan to use nuclear weapons? Or is their only purpose to deter others from using them? These questions fuel debate over the Mobile Missile known as the MX.

The MX was designed in 1975 to counter the threat of large accurate missiles being bult in the Soviet Union. General Russell Dougherty of the Strategic Air Command recalls, “We had to have some more warheads ... with more accuracy. That was the rational for ... the MX.” It faced ten years of difficult questions in Congress, withing the military and from civilians. Was the missile meant to deter a Soviet attack or to survive one? One question led to another. There was one practical question: where to put the 200,000 pound 100 foot long missiles? In 1983 Congress approved production of 100 MX Peacekeeper missiles and based the first 50 in existing Minuteman silos.



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Raw video

Media Type


Democratic Party (U.S.)
Weinberger, Caspar W.
Political campaigns
Nuclear arms control
Nuclear weapons
Antinuclear movement
United States
Carter, Jimmy, 1924-
Harriman, W. Averell (William Averell), 1891-1986
Strategic Defense Initiative
Markey, Edward J.
Bingham, Jonathan B.
Kennedy, Edward M. (Edward Moore), 1932-2009
Nuclear nonproliferation
United States. Congress
Strategic Arms Limitation Talks II
MX (Weapons system)
United States. Congress. Senate
Hiroshima-shi (Japan) -- History -- Bombardment, 1945 -- Personal narratives
Haig, Alexander Meigs, 1924-2010
Hatfield, Mark O., 1922-2011
Baker, Howard H. (Howard Henry), 1925-
United States. Congress. House
Reagan, Ronald
O’Neill, Tip
Soviet Union
Mondale, Walter F., 1928-
Republican Party (U.S. : 1854-)
East, John P.
Ball, George
Helms, Jesse
Political parties
Mass media
Global Affairs
War and Conflict
Waller, Douglas C. (Interviewee)
Publication Information
WGBH Educational Foundation
Chicago: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Douglas Waller, 1987,” 11/24/1987, GBH Archives, accessed December 11, 2023,
MLA: “War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Douglas Waller, 1987.” 11/24/1987. GBH Archives. Web. December 11, 2023. <>.
APA: War and Peace in the Nuclear Age; Missile Experimental; Interview with Douglas Waller, 1987. Boston, MA: GBH Archives. Retrieved from
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