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UCI Libraries - The Quest for Peace Interviews: Paul C. Warnke Biography

 

Paul C. Warnke

Paul C. Warnke is a partner in the law firm of Clifford and Warnke. Previously, he was director of the United States Arms Control and Disarmament Agency and chief United States negotiator of the Strategic Arms Limitation talks (SALT II). He has also been assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs and general counsel for the Department of Defense. During World War II, Mr. Warnke was an officer in the United States Coast Guard. He served in the Atlantic Theatre in anti-submarine warfare and participated in landings in the Philippines and in Borneo.

Mr. Warnke is a member of the boards of directors of Georgetown University, Columbia University School of Law, Antioch School of Law, Common Cause, the American Society of International Law, the Arms Control Association, the Fund for Peace, and the United States Committee for the United Nations Fund for Women. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission.

In a press conference at the end of his service as chief United States negotiator of SALT II, Mr. Warnke stated: "The one conclusion I've come to is that arms control just doesn't come naturally. It's a very unnatural act, and the history of SALT is a history of lost opportunities, a failure to order our priorities to deal with the gravest threat that humankind has ever faced...." According to Mr. Warnke, an essential premise of SALT is that our strategic nuclear weapons can serve only one sane purpose: "To prevent another country from using such weapons against us or our friends." Mr. Warnke believes arms control is the only way to arrest the "development of Soviet nuclear weapons of a kind and quality that could challenge the survivability of our deterrent forces."

In Mr. Warnke's analysis, a major problem with the negotiations between the United States and the Soviet Union on the limitation and reduction of nuclear arms is the overwhelming tendency to "link" these negotiations to the fluctuating relationship between the superpowers. It is in the overriding mutual interest of these two parties to reach an agreement that would, on the one hand, reduce the dangers of the outbreak of a nuclear war and, on the other hand, limit the consequences of such a war if the prevention system should break down.

The current policy of the United States involves the combination of two irreconcilable concepts -- assured destruction and winnable nuclear warfighting. A dichotomy can be seen in the assertion that there can be no winners in a nuclear war and the circumstances where the strategic forces of the United States are, in Mr. Warnke's words, "designed to prevail and end nuclear conflict on terms favorable to us and our allies."