National Affairs: The Safety Catch On the Deterrent

FAIL SAFE

THE date was Aug. 26, 1957. The announcement from the Kremlin was heavy with meaning to the free world's defenses. The Soviet Union had test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile, and as days went by, Russia's Khrushchev pushed a new form of missile diplomacy, pouring it into every cocked ear at every diplomatic coop that Europe might become "a veritable cemetery," and that the U.S. was "just as vulnerable."

Poised around the U.S.S.R.'s 37,500-mile perimeter, the U.S. Air Force's Strategic Air Command, a 2,000-bomber force capable in a single sortie of hitting the U.S.S.R. with 2,000 times the total explosive power...

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!