Defense: The Missile Gap Flap

Just as sure as Washington's cherry trees produce cherry blossoms, the Kennedy Administration was bound to be embarrassed by a first flap. The wonder was that the flap came so soon and exploded out of such a well-marked booby trap. The misfortune was that it involved a basic problem of national defense: the world view of the relative missile strength of the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

The trouble began when well-intentioned Defense Secretary Robert McNamara called Pentagon correspondents to his office for a background briefing. McNamara had done some of his homework...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!