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...

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