Nuclear America: Military and Civilian Nuclear Power in the United States, 1940-1980

By Gerard H. Clarfield; William M. Wiecek | Go to book overview

9
"Mutually Assured Destruction"

STRATEGIC DOCTRINE IN THE KENNEDY ADMINISTRATION

DURING HIS LAST YEAR IN OFFICE, Dwight Eisenhower seemed to be plagued, like Job, with unrelenting troubles. Sputnik had greatly enhanced Soviet prestige, and Premier Nikita Khrushchev took advantage of this to expand his nation's influence, especially in the Middle East, an area of great sensitivity to the West. America's role as the leader of the NATO alliance, shaken by the 1956 Suez crisis, was being directly challenged by President Charles de Gaulle, who had already begun to make France the leader of a European coalition aligned with neither of the superpowers. Latin American hostility toward the United States, once again on the rise after the CIA-engineered coup that overthrew the Guatemalan government in 1954, flared as a result of administration moves to destabilize Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba. In far-off Southeast Asia, ominous guerrilla warfare troubled Laos and Vietnam. In Africa, the Congo was aflame. Anti-American rioting in Japan and the humiliation caused by the U-2 affair added to Ike's already overflowing cup of woes.

At home, the administration was under attack not only because of foreign policy problems but also for the president's conservative attitude toward defense spending. If the rest of the world seemed to be turning against the United States, some thought it was because we were growing perceptibly weaker. The young Massachusetts senator, John Kennedy, charged that the administration had traded national security for false economy while per

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