Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

James H. Isbell

Committee Member

Nicole L. Pacino

Committee Member

Andrew J. Dunar


Paul C. (Paul Culliton) Warnke--1920-2001., Sam Nunn., Henry M. (Henry Martin) Jackson--1912-1983., Strategic Arms Limitation Talks., Deterrence (Strategy), Nuclear arms control., Arms control.


In January, 1977, President Jimmy Carter's nomination of the "assured destruction" advocate Paul C. Warnke to the dual posts of chief negotiator for the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT II) and director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) led to a national controversy. The Senate confirmed Warnke by only a slim voting margin of 58-40 for negotiator and 70-29 for director. Commentators have attributed the nomination's controversial status and results of the vote against him solely to his reputation as an arms controller and for the purpose of controlling SALT II Treaty negotiations. Warnke's private papers, chronological attention to the media response, and in-depth analysis of the confirmation hearings reveal instead that Senators Henry Jackson (D-WA) and Sam Nunn (D-GA) deliberately constructed the controversy not only to control SALT II, but to foment a reformation in U.S. declaratory strategic doctrine to prevent a drift toward a mutual assured destruction strategy. Strategically orchestrated by the use of hearings and headlines, politically constructed through the deliberate creation of a controversy, and tactically calculated to gain the symbolic one-third vote against Warnke's confirmation, the anti-Warnke effort was above all motivated to reverse the public reification of assured destruction before the ratification of SALT II and into the 1980s.



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