Restrained Response: American Novels of the Cold War and Korea, 1945-1962

By Arne Axelsson | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 7 Brink and Abyss

World politics after Korea up to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 was mostly characterized by continued tension between the superpowers, and American national security interests made this relationship a matter of utmost importance to both civilians and the military. Stalin's death and Khrushchev's more jovial charisma at times gave hope of more lasting peaceful coexistence but, broadly speaking, the communist scare of the McCarthy years and the Korean War were followed by a disquieting escalation of the Cold War. The stakes of this risky game gradually increased. The development in weapons technology and the continuing arms race assumed ever more ominous proportions, as the consequences of total nuclear war went from seri ous to disastrous to unthinkable. As early as in 1955 there were stockpiled in the United States and the Soviet Union about 5,000 atomic bombs, conservatively estimated, ready for immediate use. The year before, Dulles had officially proclaimed a policy of massive retaliation to supersede the containment strategy of the Truman Doctrine of 1947. Later in 1954 the system of military pacts begun with the NATO alliance was augmented by the establishment of the South East Asia Treaty Organization; the Warsaw Treaty was to follow a year later. By that time, radar and computer technology had reached a level when it could serve as a basis for new gigantic military projects and in 1955 work began on the construction of the Distant Early Warning Line, completed only two years later. Other technological advances in various fields began to have an impact on the

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