Foreign Affairs

Cold War International History Conference: Paper by David S. Patterson

Session V

U.S. Cold War Records on National Security Policy and Arms Control: Some Personal Reflections

David S. Patterson*
Office of the Historian
U.S. Department of State

*The views expressed in this paper do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of State

Copyright 1998 by David S. Patterson


What is national security policy? To the historian or political scientist specializing in military affairs or strategic doctrine, the answer may seem clear enough: national security policy comprises those formal decisions made at the highest level of the government on important issues designed to protect and enhance a nation's physical security from the serious interference, attack, or invasion by foreign powers so that its domestic life can continue to develop normally. Of course, scholars researching national security topics are also interested in the policy process leading to key decisions, the implementation of the policies, and their impact both domestically and internationally. And from their research and analysis they may also draw conclusions about whether the nation's defense policies in retrospect were realistic and wise or involved overreactions or other deficiencies that might have actually harmed the security of the nation.

In the context of the United States and the Cold War, national security policy involved the U.S. response to the specter of world Communism in general and the Soviet Union in particular. The predominant concern among U.S. policymakers was Soviet military capabilities and intentions worldwide, which directly affected U.S. decisions on its military programs and in turn on the defense budget. As the Cold War developed and intensified in the late 1940s and 1950s, the executive branch proposed and Congress authorized increased spending on military hardware and other defense-related programs. Moneys were appropriated in a number of defense areas -- the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, nuclear testing, offensive and defensive missile systems, naval rearmament, command and control decisions, intelligence capabilities, and covert action, for example.

I will not attempt here to detail the evolution of U.S. national security policies during the Cold War. To try to trace 45 years of such policies in any substantive way in a few minutes is not possible. In any event, we already have several historical studies, which describe the evolution of these U.S. policies during this era. Note 1 I propose instead to talk mostly about arms control policy and its relationship to national security policy. I do so in part because I know more about the former than the latter and in part because I think (and hope to demonstrate) that the two are so interrelated that one cannot be understood without understanding the other. Within these broad parameters I will limit my discussion to selected aspects of the Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson administrations, or a slice of 16 years of the Cold War in the 1950s and 1960s, about which I am most familiar. Moreover, because I believe the role of the president on arms control is particularly important, I will devote some attention to the three presidents' ideas about and approaches to arms control. Finally, in my discussion of disarmament issues in this era, I will indicate some of the more important U.S. archival records documenting them. Indeed, to some extent my presentation will be a personal odyssey of my deepening involvement with such records, and I hope my experience will be help to illuminate the potential rich rewards for scholarly research that can be found in them.

The Impact of the Nuclear Age and the Cold War

When I joined the Historian's Office twenty years ago, I was an illiterate on national security policy. Almost all my previous historical research had been in the pre-World War I generation when the United States emerged as a major world power, and there was little systematic discussion in that era by U.S. policymakers of the nation's security policies. Perhaps the major perennial foreign policy issue facing the United States before 1914 was naval preparedness -- in particular how many new battleships the Congress would authorize each year -- and only the European war which eventually brought about U.S. involvement resulted in wider public debate about the definition of the national interest and the possibilities of an important new U.S. role in the post-world order. In the Historian's Office, I was nonetheless asked to prepare for the Foreign Relations of the United States series the documentary record of the arms control and disarmament policies of the Eisenhower administration. Perhaps because of my previous scholarship in the area of "peace research," including disarmament questions, it was thought that I would have a natural interest in arms control and could make a special contribution in that area.

I did have the interest, but arms control policies of the 1950s were a long way from the politically innocent presidential administrations of a generation or two earlier. As I explored the documentary record of the Eisenhower years, one of the first things that struck me was how complicated the issues were to policymakers. One reason for this of course was that the scientific breakthroughs and technological innovation had led to the advent of nuclear weapons, which required new ways of thinking about their regulation and possible use. They had also produced long-range bomber aircraft and intercontinental missiles that made the United States vulnerable to overseas attack. Still another reason was that by the mid-1950s the United States had worldwide security interests, including regional alliances like NATO, and the Eisenhower administration treated its security as indivisible from that of its friends. From my previous research, I understood that disarmament had been an end in itself in the earlier epoch, but I soon came to realize that in the shrinking, much less secure post-World War II world arms control was intimately related to national security policy. In other words, the Eisenhower administration pursued arms control with the Soviet Union, but arms control was no longer an independent variable; rather it was bound up with, even dependent on, national security concerns.Note 2

To be sure, the subordination of arms control to national security policy was not immediately obvious in U.S. government records. For one thing, the prospect of research in millions of pages of documents just on these two broad subjects was daunting. (Unlike the private researcher who until recently had difficulty finding many declassified documents on these subjects, as a government historian I had the necessary security clearances and had access to the mostly still classified, even highly sensitive documents.)


In the nuclear age, there are many dimensions of arms control, including conventional forces and armaments levels, strategic and tactical weapons systems, nuclear warheads, delivery systems, nuclear testing, nonproliferation, outer space, communications links, and budgetary considerations, but the Eisenhower administration was the first in the postwar era to think systematically about these complex problems and to begin to develop negotiating positions about them. I wondered whether I would be able to locate and peruse documents from a representative sample of at least many of the more relevant collections, let alone read, copy, and take notes on the most significant ones. Then to digest and make sense of the key documentation, much of which revealed half-starts, confusion, and incremental changes in official policy, required additional reflection and careful analysis. Moreover, the Eisenhower administration usually considered arms control policy separately from its defense policies and in the mid-1950s had created a mini-arms control bureaucracy, first headed by the liberal Republican politician Harold Stassen and then by a Committee of Principals, which Eisenhower supplemented with the creation of a Disarmament Administration within the State Department. These organizational changes, which signaled the commitment of his administration to arms control, had longer term effects.Note 3

Nevertheless, from my research in the foreign policy records of the Eisenhower administration I soon perceived the close connection between national security policy and arms control. I learned, for example, that research on arms control also required perusal of a wide range of records on security affairs. The records of the several executive departments involved in formulating policies on national security affairs and arms control are at the National Archives (Archives II). In addition to housing the State Department's central (decimal) files, which document internal and interagency discussions and negotiations in international forums, Archives II has many relevant State Department lot (office) files. One huge file on atomic energy matters covering the 1940s to late 1950s and another on the mid-1950s are particularly useful. Note 4

From research in these collections, it soon became clear to me that U.S. initiatives on nuclear arms control first required the approval of the Departments of Defense and State and the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC), all of which had major responsibilities on U.S. nuclear armaments policies. Defense, including the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the AEC in particular were interested in the production of more and better nuclear weapons and would accept limitations on them only following substantial progress with the Soviets on outstanding political questions and under the most severe safeguards, including comprehensive inspection of Soviet nuclear facilities. In addition, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles preferred to rely on the nation's deterrent power, which he expressed as "massive retaliation," rather than arms control. Like his counterparts in Defense and the AEC, he recognized that public abhorrence for the incredible destructive power of nuclear weapons required the U.S. government to propose plans for armament limitation, but he wanted to proceed cautiously and perceived it as a public relations problem to counter Soviet initiatives and to mollify U.S. allies and world public opinion. Stassen's zeal for major progress on disarmament was apparent during his tenure (1955-1958), but the self-interested armaments agencies consistently forced him to water down his proposed initiatives.

Of course, arms control policy can be more than an exercise in bureaucratic politics. Especially on important foreign policy matters, of which arms control is surely one, the President can ignore the government bureaucracy and coerce reluctant agencies to promote his own initiatives. While I tried to sort out the organizational dynamics and pressures involved in the development of the administration's national security and arms control policies, I also wanted to understand Eisenhower's thinking about national security affairs. After all, if the President ultimately decided or approved foreign policies with or without the consent of the interested agencies, his ideas were potentially important and could be crucial. What was the worldview of this former general, and how were his fundamental beliefs translated into his administration's approach to and policies on national defense and disarmament? And in this context, what did he think about nuclear weapons and their proliferation, and the possibilities of trying to control them?

Eisenhower was no philosopher, but even less was he the bumbling mediocrity as portrayed by some commentators at the time. He did consistently articulate several thoughts about the U.S. role in world affairs which when taken together reveal a fairly coherent mind set on basic foreign policy questions. To be sure, he expressed some thoughts about the Soviet menace and nuclear weapons publicly in speeches and press conferences, but many of his frankest beliefs on these matters were too sensitive, or the implications too horrific, to share frankly with the American public. The best documentation on President Eisenhower's most honest and candid thoughts about the nuclear age are at the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas. His private conferences with his national security advisers and other senior policymakers and the detailed memoranda of the discussions at formal meetings of the National Security Council, for instance, are crucial for understanding the full and frank discussions on disarmament at the highest level, including the President's frankly expressed views and the key decisions.Note 5 The records at the Eisenhower Library supplement his public remarks. They show, for instance, that President Eisenhower seemingly had somewhat contradictory views on defense matters. On the one hand, he had contempt for the Soviet communist system and was suspicious of its leaders. He was in short a Cold Warrior. Given these attitudes and his persistent worry about a possible Soviet surprise attack, he emphasized the development and readiness of a military force structure capable of surviving such an attack and still retaliating decisively. His national security policies vis-a-vis the Soviet Union demonstrated his reliance on nuclear weapons, the stockpile of which he was willing to expand until the last few years of his presidency, and he was prepared to use nuclear weapons in hot spots around the world if the communists did not act with restraint. He also encouraged close relations with U.S. allies, psychological warfare, and intelligence operations. Given these views, arms control might seem to be just another dimension of national security policy and often subordinated to it.

On the other hand, the arms race also disturbed Eisenhower. It was increasingly costly, he felt, and, if unchecked, might force the nation into debt. Because Eisenhower was a moderate Republican, it is easy to underestimate the depth of his staunch fiscal conservative views. He was deeply concerned, however, that an overburdened budget would undermine the nation's health and in the long run its security. Note 6 Moreover, he believed that the Soviet Union's development of the H-bomb in August 1953 greatly diminished America's physical security. Eliminating or at least limiting nuclear weapons might save a lot of money; reductions would also assure that there would not be sufficient Soviet nuclear weapons to destroy the U.S. industrial base. In the absence of weapons of mass destruction, Eisenhower was confident that the United States would prevail in any future war with the Soviet Union. Accordingly, he developed initiatives such as his "atoms for peace" and "open skies" proposals, which had positive implications for arms control. He promoted his disarmament initiatives in spite of the resistance of his advisers, and he often supported Stassen's efforts to develop U.S. positions on disarmament even though Stassen, humorless and impatient, antagonized the interested agency heads and ultimately U.S. allies with his bold positions.Note 7

Another important issue contributing to the Cold War was nuclear testing. In the first five years of the Eisenhower presidency, the United States conducted 162 nuclear weapons tests.Note 8 Nevertheless, Eisenhower understood that continued U.S. testing, the primary purpose of which was to "modernize" the nuclear weapons stockpile, fueled the arms race with the Soviet Union, and he wanted to explore the possibility of negotiating a partial or full test ban. He expressed his views often, but they did not seem to impress his national security bureaucracy. When, for example, he told the NSC that he was thinking of testing only "as long as the Soviets do," AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss responded that the United States should test "whenever an idea has been developed which is ready to test."Note 9 There was indeed an internal or bureaucratic momentum that created continuous pressures in the Eisenhower administration to build more and better nuclear weapons and new weapons systems.

As policymakers in his second administration grappled with the problem, the technical aspects interagency agreement on threshold levels below which testing could continue, and detection systems to monitor and verify compliance with any test ban, for example -- became important. Here the records at the Eisenhower Library of the Office of the Special Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, which Eisenhower created in response to Sputnik in late 1957, and the papers of John McCone, the AEC head from 1958-1961, are an invaluable supplement. Eisenhower and Secretary Dulles also believed that growing worldwide public pressures against testing required agreement to some kind of test ban if the United States was not to be isolated internationally. What is remarkable is that despite resistance inside his administration Eisenhower persevered and in 1959 used a Soviet announcement of a moratorium on nuclear testing to impose a voluntary U.S. moratorium. Incidentally, James Killian and especially George Kistiakowsky, the president's science advisers, were cautiously optimistic about the prospects for arms control accords and probably helped to sustain the President's search for agreements on nuclear weapons and missile testing and on outer space.

Eisenhower's support for disarmament was not unequivocal, however, and on other occasions he often deferred to the judgment of his much more cautious agency heads. The records show the interplay between Eisenhower's personal views and initiatives on the one hand and his unwillingness on the other to discipline or bypass the resisting bureaucracy on disarmament. To put it another way, his ideas and proposals were promising and usually far in advance of his senior advisers, but he did not follow through in a forceful and consistent manner.

Overall, Eisenhower's creative ideas and initiatives on arms control were promising, but he seemed to lack the will to follow through in a systematic manner. He was not more consistently forceful, I suggest, in part because of his preference for a cabinet style of governance in which he did not want to get too far ahead of his chosen agency heads and in part because temperamentally he was a compromiser and harmonizer. Moreover, his conventional anticommunist views and deference to U.S. allies, particularly Britain and France which were determined to develop their own nuclear deterrents, constrained him. Given the existing Cold War tensions, perhaps even more vigorous pursuit of arms control by Eisenhower would have made little difference, and the Soviet leadership for its own reasons may not have been seriously interested in curtailing the arms race.Note 10 In any event, the United States and the Soviet Union signed no arms control accords during his two terms, Note 11 and Eisenhower's farewell address to the nation, in which he summarized his concerns about an encroaching military-industrial complex in America, also expressed his "definite sense of disappointment" on disarmament. Note 12

Despite his concerns, President Eisenhower was important as an educator. He understood the potentially dangerous consequences of the spiraling arms race and made arms control a respectable alternative and enhanced its status in the foreign affairs bureaucracy. Moreover, while he understood the linkage between arms control and other outstanding political questions with the Soviet Union, he did not allow lack of progress on the latter as an excuse for abandoning the former. And perhaps just as important, his emphasis on confidence-building measures -- improving communications with the Soviet Union to reduce misunderstanding and possible miscalculation, for example -- in the longer term became part of the lexicon of arms control advocates in succeeding administrations.

Kennedy and Johnson

The Kennedy administration continued its predecessor's pursuit of arms control. While President Kennedy completely restructured Eisenhower's complex national security bureaucracy to suit his less formal management style, he continued the Committee of Principals, and he early expanded and formalized these bureaucratic mechanisms with the founding of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) as a separate bureaucracy devoted entirely to arms control issues. Although many hoped that ACDA would be the principal player on disarmament matters, it became in practice only one among many agencies in the formulation of arms control policy. In the Kennedy and subsequent administrations, its actual influence depended greatly on the closeness of the relationship between its director and the secretary of state and president. Its longer term influence was its technical and scientific expertise on verification.

Despite claims by the Defense Department and the Joint Chiefs of Staff that the testing moratorium was endangering the nation's security, the Kennedy administration continued the moratorium until the Soviets resumed nuclear tests in the late summer of 1961. Then President Kennedy felt that the United States had to conduct underground tests; and when the Soviet Union asserted that it could not accept on-site inspections of Soviet territory which were indispensable for compliance in the U.S. and British initiatives, in early 1962 he also approved the resumption of atmospheric testing.

Sobered by the Cuban missile crisis, which was the closest the world has come to nuclear war, Kennedy and Soviet Chairman Khrushchev began to explore more directly a testing agreement. Talks on establishing a direct communications link between the two governments led to the signing of the "hot line" agreement in June 1963, which was designed to improve direct contacts to minimize miscalculation and misunderstanding.Note 13 The following month Kennedy appointed Averell Harriman as a special emissary to Moscow with instructions to try to negotiate an accord banning testing in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater, and Harriman and his British and Soviet counterparts quickly agreed to the Limited Test Ban Treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater.

A common view even among some serious historians of Lyndon Johnson's presidency is that his administration became so consumed by the U.S. military escalation in Vietnam and mounting failure of the effort there that not much else of substance happened in American foreign policy. That perspective is seriously misleading, however, for Johnson took a direct personal interest in a number of other foreign policy issues -- U.S. relations with its European allies, the crisis in the Dominican Republic, the Six Day War, and the famine in India, for example. And on the arms control front, he did not miss a beat. In addition to the limited test ban, he inherited from his predecessor ongoing U.S.-Soviet negotiations for a treaty prohibiting the emplacement of "weapons of mass destruction" in orbit and initial discussions between Secretary of State Dean Rusk and Soviet Ambassador Anatoly Dobrynin on the "non-diffusion" of nuclear weapons. He expanded on both initiatives, and the result was the signing of multilateral treaties on outer space in 1967 and on nuclear nonproliferation in 1968.

Along with the documentation of the agencies' records at the National Archives, the President's Office Files and National Security Files at the Kennedy Library in Boston and the National Security File at the Johnson Library in Austin, Texas, are central for understanding Kennedy's and Johnson's arms control policies. Moreover, the oral reminiscences there of the president's senior advisers on disarmament provide additional context for understanding specific aspects of arms control process and negotiations.

Other collections are also worth consulting. The ACDA records at the National Archives are a new source for understanding the two administrations' arms control policies; indeed, because many Eisenhower records were apparently transferred for background reference to ACDA during the Kennedy administration, the early ACDA files also provide information on the disarmament activities of the second Eisenhower administration. Another important source is the voluminous journal of Glenn Seaborg, the AEC chairman from 1961-1971. Seaborg hoped that his journal would provide "for historians and other scholars a record that might not be available elsewhere of what occurred at high levels of government regarding the AEC's important area of activity."Note 14 His detailed daily entries do give a remarkably candid view into the workings of the AEC, but also often provide the only record of NSC and other senior interagency meetings during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.Note 15

The new sources add to our understanding of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations' positions on arms control, but the two presidents' views are somewhat elusive. Compared with Eisenhower, their management style was more informal, and accordingly the processes by which they made decisions were not so predictable. Moreover, the documentation on their involvement in major foreign policy questions is more scattered. The Kennedy Library's upcoming release of the tape recordings of the president's telephone conversations and meetings on the test ban and other disarmament questions may improve our understanding of what Kennedy was thinking and deciding in this area. Just as the publication of transcripts of the tapes on the missile crisis a year ago highlighted Kennedy's intelligence and restraint under pressure, Note 16 perhaps the tapes on disarmament and the test ban will show similar qualities on national security policy and arms control. In any event, we anticipate that they will help to clarify important aspects of the president's foreign policy record.

Then there are President Johnson's telephone conversations, which the Lyndon Johnson Library has begun to make publicly available. The audiotapes will prove to be important for historical research. First, because Johnson did not regularly express himself in writing and used the telephone as his preferred instrument of communication, his conversations help to reveal or clarify his views on major policy questions and his strategy and tactics in pursuit of his goals. Second, they assume added importance because of the large number of them -- about 9,400 conversations totaling 643 hours. Probably more than one-half of these tapes cover foreign policy subjects, and several deal with arms control matters.Note 17

It is easy in fact to get caught up in Johnson's phone conversations and overemphasize their significance. Though the tapes are intrinsically interesting and offer fascinating insights into Johnson's complex personality, they are a supplement rather than a substitute for the rich abundance of manuscript materials, which provide the larger context of the issues and the dense, incremental record of policy options and decisions.Note 18

The unfolding debate within the Johnson administration over the development and deployment of an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) system reveals the complex interplay between national security policy and arms control. When intelligence reports indicated that the Soviet Union was deploying a not very effective ABM system around Moscow and perhaps another, named Tallinn in a barrier line in northeastern Soviet Union, there was general agreement within the administration that an ABM system in the United States could not fully defend the nation from an all-out Soviet nuclear attack. The Joint Chiefs of Staff vigorously promoted an ABM system, however. They argued that because its deployment would save some lives and provide some protection to the U.S. retaliatory capability, the substantial additional expense was justified. Secretary Rusk and many members of Congress likewise favored an ABM system. On the other side, the key personality was Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara who was very skeptical about the efficacy and expense of an ABM system. He countered that the Soviet Union would only increase its offensive capability enough to overwhelm a U.S. defensive system with the result that the United States would have spent billions of dollars with no increase in security. He emphasized instead that the United States should continue to depend on the deterrence provided by its offensive capability to inflict assured destruction of the Soviet Union.

ABM proponents advanced other arguments, including the protection of the nation's land-based missiles, to try to assure critics that an anti-ballistic missile system would increase survivability of the U.S. assured destruction capability and protect against an attack by China which was developing an ICBM system. McNamara, however, questioned whether the damage limiting mission (counterforce) had to be assured as well and argued that the damage limiting mission had to be part of a balanced program including fallout protection (shelters) and ABM capabilities.

As an alternative to full deployment, McNamara pushed for direct negotiations with the Soviets on limiting ABMs. In a phone conversation with Johnson in December 1966, he asked whether the State Department could tell Ambassador Dobrynin that the president endorsed such talks, and Johnson replied, "Yes...Let's go ahead. That sounds good," and he added that he could not think of anything that "would be more desirable" than "an agreement that would hold in that field."Note 19 This was not just a snap judgment on Johnson's part, however, as the arms control option had been under serious study for many years by analysts in ACDA, the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, arms control experts in the National Security Council, and McNamara's civilian assistants at the Pentagon. The Johnson administration had included a freeze on strategic defensive nuclear delivery vehicles in a 1964 initiative, and Dobrynin had expressed the Soviet interest in both offensive and defensive missile talks. Note20 In any case, while President Johnson soon allowed McNamara to announce the decision to deploy a "thin" ABM system to protect against China, Note 21 he simultaneously pushed for ABM negotiations with the Soviets, which would be highlighted at a summit meeting in the Soviet Union. Only the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact forces in August 1968 forced a postponement of the summit announcement that had been scheduled for the next day, and Johnson continued to hope that a summit might take place to advance the missile talks and, one also suspects, to try to add a little luster and sense of accomplishment to a failed administration in its last days.

What are implications for the researcher interested in the ABM issue? It is that the ABM story is too complex to be pieced together from a few sources but requires research in several repositories. Intelligence analyses of the Soviet Union's defensive missile system and its attitude toward talks on their limitation and the verification requirements of any ABM agreement, for example, provide essential background for understanding the uses to which Johnson administration policymakers put this information.Note 22 Moreover, the manuscript records at the Johnson Library are important especially for commentary by the NSC staff, the options and recommendations that went forward to the president, and preparations for the abortive summit. The audiotapes of the president's several telephone conversations with McNamara and others reveal Johnson's thinking on the ABM issue, which was decisive, but also the participants' candid concerns about the domestic political fallout from the ABM issue, which were not often mentioned in the paper documents. State Department and ACDA files additionally document the preparation of arms control initiatives on the ABM. Finally, the Defense Department records best document the opinions of McNamara, his assistants, and State Department officials on the decisions and timing of the announcement of the ABM "thin" system.


Despite changing administrations, the waxing and waning of Cold War tensions, and the introduction of new issues, the main principles underlying U.S. arms control policies during the 1950s and 1960s were fairly consistent. One was the subordination of arms control to U.S. national security interests; the fundamental test was the perception that an arms control agreement should enhance America's security. A second was that because of suspicions of Soviet intentions, such accords had to include strict verification procedures to ensure compliance or be verifiable by national technical means. A related principle was more openness. Because of the uncertainty in dealing with closed communist governments, U.S. administrations pushed for more candor in communication and in exchanging information on military budgets and the nature, size, and deployment of military installations and forces; such ongoing dialogue might help to reduce the fear of miscalculation and possible war. Finally, U.S. security interests were seen as indivisible from its allies, and arms control treaties could not compromise allied security.

The basic continuity of arms control policies and the apparent sameness of agencies' self-interested positions during these three administrations, however, should not diminish the importance of the principal actors. People still matter. The views of the presidents, how they organize their administrations and communicate with and receive information from their principal advisers affect the outcome. McNamara's central role on the ABM question is a prime example.

End Notes

  1. Two early examples are John Lewis Gaddis, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of Postwar National Security Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982) and David Rosenberg, "The Origins of Overkill: Nuclear Weapons and American Strategy, 1945-1960," International Security, Vol. 7 (Spring 1983), pp. 3-71.[Back]

  2. In trying better to understand the transformation, I traced the changing conception of national security by U.S. political leaders over the course of American history in an article, "A Historical View of American Security," Peace and Change, VII, No. 4 (Fall 1981), pp. 7-13.[Back]

  3. In talking about limitation of armaments, Eisenhower almost always used the word "disarmament," but his policy proposals were closer to "arms control." Although I have used both terms interchangeably in this paper, "arms control" increasingly expressed what policymakers thought was possible in the field. The use of both terms in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency when it was created in 1961 may suggest the lingering tension between the idealistic hopes and more modest expectations of proponents of arms limitation.[Back]

  4. Atomic Energy Files: Lot 67 D 588 and Disarmament Files: Lot 58 D 133. Another is the Memoranda of Conversation of the Secretaries of State: Lot 64 D 199.[Back]

  5. In the Whitman File at the Eisenhower Library, see especially the folders on NSC Records, Dulles Papers, and Eisenhower Diaries.[Back]

  6. Expanding the nuclear weapons stockpile, for example, might provide "more bang for the buck," but the weapons were still very expensive. For a recent critical appraisal of the high cost of the U.S. nuclear weapons program, see Stephen I. Schwartz, ed., Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons since 1940 (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998).[Back]

  7. Many of the conclusions on Eisenhower's views on disarmament in this essay are derived from three of my articles: "President Eisenhower and Arms Control," Peace and Change, Vol. 11, Nos. 3-4, (1986), pp. 3-24; "The Legacy of President Eisenhower's Arms Control Policies," The Military-Industrial Complex: Eisenhower's Warning Three Decades Later, eds. G.B. Walker, et al.(Peter Lang, 1992), pp. 217-236; and "Pacifism and Arms Limitation," Encyclopedia of the United States in the Twentieth Century, ed. Stanley I. Kutler (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1996), Vol. II, pp. 541-567. The last essay covers U.S. arms control policies over the past century.[Back]

  8. U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Nuclear Tests, July 1945-September 1992, DOE/NV-209 (Rev. 14), December 1994, pp. viii, 2-11.[Back]

  9. Quoted in Patterson, "President Eisenhower and Arms Control," p. 14.[Back]

  10. It is to be hoped that scholars will scrutinize the recent opening of the records of the Soviet Union, even though partial, for clues about Soviet motives and intentions in this area.[Back]

  11. One possible exception was the Antarctic treaty (1959) which banned all military measures from that continent, but that was hardly a real breakthrough.[Back]

  12. Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1960-61 (Washington, D.C., 1961), p. 1039.[Back]

  13. This agreement was amended in 1971 and 1984 to add satellite and advanced facsimile transmission capabilities. U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Arms Control and Disarmament Agreements: Texts and Histories of the Negotiations (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, 1990 edition), pp. 31-36, 122-128, and 314-318.[Back]

  14. Glenn T. Seaborg, "Secrecy Run Amok," Science, Vol. 264 (June 3, 1994), pp. 1410-1411.[Back]

  15. Copies of Journal of Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, U.S. Atomic Energy Commission, 1961-1971 (26 vols.), which has been almost fully declassified, are available at several research libraries. Seaborg has also written "insider" books on arms control, Kennedy, Khrushchev and the Test Ban (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), and (with Benjamin S. Loeb) Stemming the Tide: Arms Control in the Johnson Years (Lexington, Mass.: D.C. Heath, 1987), based in part on his journals. For the Nixon administration, see his book, The Atomic Energy Commission Under Nixon: Adjusting to Troubled Times (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1993).[Back]

  16. Ernest R. May and Philip D. Zelikow, eds., The Kennedy Tapes: Inside the White House During the Cuban Missile Crisis (Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1997).[Back]

  17. So far the Johnson Library has released the tapes covering the period from November 22, 1963 to the end of 1964. A selection covering the first nine months of this period is Michael Beschloss, ed., Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964 (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997). Regarding arms control policy, the audiotapes became available to the Historian's Office too late to include full transcripts in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Vol. XI, Arms Control and Disarmament (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1995), but the compilers were able to add selected extracts and references from them in editorial notes and footnotes before publication. Transcripts of the tapes, including portions showing the interrelationships between national security policy and arms control, will be used more systematically in Vol. X, National Security Policy (in process).[Back]

  18. The tape recordings also raise a number of questions relating to their discovery, the presidents' motivations, the activation of the recording systems, and the audio quality. Stephanie Fawcett, Senior Archivist at the Kennedy Library and Regina Greenwell, Senior Archivist as the Johnson Library, who have been preparing the Kennedy and Johnson tapes respectively for eventual release, discussed these questions and others in papers given at the annual meeting of the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations at Georgetown University in June 1997.[Back]

  19. Transcript of telephone conversation, December 7, 1966, quoted in Foreign Relations, 1964-1968, Vol. XI, p. 406n.[Back]

  20. Ibid., pp. 76-77, 314-316, 431-432, passim. In July 1968 ACDA Director William Foster said that "studies on methods of controlling the strategic arms race had been going on for seven years," (ibid., p. 636), and Spurgeon Keeny of the NSC staff earlier claimed that he had "followed this question [of ABM deployment] for the past six or eight years." (Memorandum from Keeny to Walt Rostow, October 11, 1966, Johnson Library , National Security File, Name File, Spurgeon Keeny Memos, Box 5) Keeny had been a staff member in the White House Office of Science and Technology during the Eisenhower administration. For some early discussions, see Foreign Relations, 1958-1960, Vol. III, National Security Policy; Arms Control and Disarmament (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1996), pp. 212, 490-491, 516-518, 526, 527, 568, 582, and 604.[Back]

  21. For the text of his speech announcing this decision on September 18, 1967, see American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1967 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1969), pp. 16-25.[Back]

  22. In late 1994, the Central Intelligence Agency released hundreds of classified National Intelligence Estimates (NIEs) covering the Soviet Union during the Cold War. While many focus on Soviet strategic and military capabilities and attitudes toward arms control, they should be supplemented, where possible, by other NIEs not released under this program and other intelligence reporting. [Back]