Paul H. Nitze and American Cold War strategy 1949 - 1953

Ushay, Josh (2006) Paul H. Nitze and American Cold War strategy 1949 - 1953. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.

Abstract

This study is an intellectual history of Paul H. Nitze's contribution to the evolution of American Cold War strategy from 1949 to 1953. Nitze, a national security advisor and arms control negotiator to a succession of American presidents over fifty years, was almost unrivalled in his breadth and depth of experience in the Cold War national security establishment of the United States. As this study demonstrates, however, the most important and influential phase of his career was during his involvement with the Truman administration, as Deputy Director and then Director of the Department of State's Policy Planning Staff (PPS). It was in this position that Nitze contributed to a profound shift in American strategic thinking that redefined U.S. national security policy both at the time and for the decades to come. He was the principal author of National Security Council directive 68 (NSC 68), the most comprehensive and wide-ranging appraisal of American national security policy of the time. Developed in response to the Soviet Union's first atomic explosion, and approved after the North Korean invasion of South Korea, Nitze's NSC 68 recommended the United States move away from its prevailing strategy of massive nuclear retaliation and towards a forward defence of the' free world', made possible by a vast increase in conventional - or non-nuclear - military capabilities. This shift proved to be the forerunner of 'flexible response', the official defence posture of the Kennedy administration and the formal NATO strategic doctrine for much of the Cold War. Yet crucially, the phase of Nitze's career that produced this fundamental and enduring reorientation of American Cold War strategy has been largely unexplored by historical studies to date.

This thesis addresses this shortcoming. Not only is it the first in-depth study of Nitze's years with the Truman administration, but it also makes use of previously unavailable archival sources, including Nitze's own papers held at the Library of Congress in Washington DC. Given the dearth of literature on his career during this time, and the fact that the critical primary source material used in this study is absent in such literature, this thesis therefore offers a new, original and unprecedented contribution to contemporary understanding of Paul Nitze and the Cold War.

Impact and interest:

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ID Code: 16228
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Ainsworth, John & Hindsley, Wayne
Keywords: United States, diplomatic history, Cold War, Soviet Union, Paul Nitze
Department: QUT Carseldine
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Copyright Owner: Copyright Joshua Levi Ushay
Deposited On: 03 Dec 2008 03:59
Last Modified: 28 Oct 2011 19:45

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