National Affairs: The Safety Catch On the Deterrent


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...

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