Ace in the Hole: Why the United States Did Not Use Nuclear Weapons in the Cold War, 1945 to 1965

By Timothy J. Botti | Go to book overview
Save to active project

3
THE SOVIETS DRAW AN ACE

While the Soviet capability of launching an atomic attack this year or the coming two years is believed to be small, it is not to be ignored, because when all the hundreds of key targets in the United States are broken down by target systems, it is found that the destruction of a relatively few targets could cause a serious delay in our mobilization, or retaliation, and delay--the loss of time during an extreme emergency--is one factor that could jeopardize our position in this era of blitzkrieg and far-reaching military surprise moves.

-- Briefing for the President, January 31, 19501

The real unknown variable in a contest between the U.S. and the USSR was not Soviet ability to survive widespread air-atomic assault. It was the question of when Soviet scientists would produce their own atomic device and the Soviet military a capability of responding with atomic attacks to American bombing. In mid-1948, the CIA had predicted that the earliest the Soviets would build an atomic bomb would be mid-1950 but that the most probable date was mid-1953. SAC's EWP had been updated to anticipate this possibility as early as January 1949. Still, it came as a sudden shock when on September 3, 1949 an American reconnaissance bomber detected atmospheric debris that indicated the Soviets had detonated an atomic device in late August (the 29th). When President Truman finally announced the event on September 23, a shiver of fear passed through Americans and their NATO allies.2

Despite the fact that the Soviets had only 150 B-29 type TU-4 bombers with no forward bases or aerial refueling capability to reach the continental U.S., despite the fact that on September 30, 1949 the American atomic stockpile reached 200, the mood in the free world was one almost of despair. China was falling to the Communists. Mao Tse-tung announced the founding of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) on October 10, 1949, adding another 700 million people to the enemy camp. At Truman's request, the JCAE voted to expand greatly the American atomic program for rapid and huge increases in the stockpile of bombs and sided with those in the administration who wanted to

-17-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Ace in the Hole: Why the United States Did Not Use Nuclear Weapons in the Cold War, 1945 to 1965
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 316

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?