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Nitze, Paul H.

Nitze, Paul H. (1907–2004).U.S. government official, author, educator. Early in 1950, as director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, Paul H. Nitze oversaw the drafting of a report, NSC 68, to President Harry S. Truman urging a general strengthening of U.S. armed forces to counter the threat of Soviet aggression. The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 convinced many policymakers, including Truman, that the report had merit. It thus became for all practical purposes the basic blueprint for the ensuing Cold War military buildup.

Nitze's role in NSC 68 was only one of the many crucial decisions in which he participated during a public career spanning fifty years. Despite the Great Depression, Nitze prospered as a Wall Street bond trader in the 1930s, but came to Washington in 1940 at the request of his business partner, James V. Forrestal, to work part‐time on the mobilization effort. In World War II Nitze served with the Board of Economic Warfare and as a director of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey. After the war, he joined the State Department and helped draft the 1948 Marshall Plan legislation to rebuild war‐torn Europe. Nitze left government in 1953, but returned with the Kennedy administration as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs to become a key figure in U.S. policy during the Berlin Wall Crisis (1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). Though regarded as a “hawk” on most defense matters, he was a “dove” on Vietnam and regretted U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War during the 1960s because it drained American resources and diverted attention from the growing problem of Soviet strategic nuclear power.

In the 1970s and 1980s Nitze turned his attention to nuclear arms control and disarmament, first as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) between Washington and Moscow. Though instrumental in negotiating the 1972 Anti‐Ballistic Missile Treaty, he lobbied against Senate ratification of the 1979 SALT II Treaty limiting offensive strategic launchers because he felt it made too many concessions to the Russians. Under President Ronald Reagan, however, he helped negotiate the 1987 ban on U.S. and Soviet intermediate range nuclear missiles and participated in laying the groundwork for the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.

When not serving in government, Nitze was a highly successful businessman and a prolific writer on arms control, foreign policy, and strategic theory. He encouraged closer ties between government and academia and was one of the founders in 1944 of what became the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, which now bears his name.
[See also Berlin Crises; Cold War: External Course; Cold War: Domestic Course; National Council Memoranda; National Security in the Nuclear Age; SALT Treaties.]

Bibliography

Steven L. Rearden , The Evolution of American Strategic Doctrine: Paul H. Nitze and the Soviet Challenge, 1984.
Strobe Talbott , The Master of the Game: Paul Nitze and the Nuclear Peace, 1988.
Paul H. Nitze , From Hiroshima to Glasnost: At the Center of Decision—A Memoir, 1989.
David Callahan , Dangerous Capabilities: Paul Nitze and the Cold War, 1990.

Steven L. Rearden

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Nitze, Paul Henry

Paul Henry Nitze (nĬt´sə), 1907–2004, American public official, b. Amherst, Mass., grad. Harvard, 1927. After working in investment banking, he entered government service in 1940 and served in a variety of posts, including that of vice chairman of the U.S. Strategic Bombing Survey (1944–46). As head of policy planning for the State Dept. (1950–53), he was the principal author of a highly influential secret National Security Council document (NSC-68), which provided the strategic outline for increased U.S. expenditures to counter the perceived threat of Soviet armament. He also served as Secretary of the Navy (1963–67) and Deputy Secretary of Defense (1967–69), as a member of the U.S. delegation to the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT; 1969–73), and Assistant Secretary of Defense for international affairs (1973–76). Later, fearing Soviet rearmament, he opposed the ratification of SALT II (1979). He was President Reagan's chief negotiator of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty (1981–84). In 1984 he was named special adviser to the President and Secretary of State on Arms Control. For over forty years, Nitze was one of the chief architects of U.S. policy toward the Soviet Union.

See studies by S. Talbott (1988) and N. Thompson (2009).

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