United States, Kennedy Administration, Europe discussed on Talking Politics

Talking Politics


You can accept defeat on the ground in what we would now call conventional warfare because the Soviets simply have more divisions in Europe than NATO does in the nineteen fifties. Or you can possibly end civilization as we know it by using nuclear weapons. Those are two pretty unpalatable choices. And this leads to the Kennedy administration which takes over a nineteen sixty moving away from massive retaliation and getting towards something called roughly flexible response, which is to say that the United States needs to be able to deter and respond to. So. Viet military threats every single level of the esscalation spectrum because it's simply not credible to say that the United States is going to risk World War three for every Soviet military provocation view. This could lead to the end of human civilization because you kind of undo these effects. Once you've used these weapons from in the radiation will loss for a long longtime. When does that kind of gain popular consciousness when two people start to think that that's got to be tabu against each of these weapons because it is unthinkable to use them? Well, I mean, you see already in nineteen fifties, SCI fi, horror kind of stuff. All this new penetration of Thomas culture, if you will, right and mutations from radioactive experiments. So this is getting popularized pretty quickly and you have pretty high profile. Think pieces published by people in the Truman administration after World War Two justifying the use of Tomic weapon. So there is debate. Going on about both the morality of these weapons as well as simply kind of more lo- culture, popular stuff in which people are afraid of them. And you also have to remember because the size of the United States and because the nuclear radiological effects of nuclear weapons are not well understood in the nineteen fifties. You're testing these things above ground in places like Nevada. So you have ranchers, you have kind of firsthand experience with this. We're not exactly talking cows with fins and gills, but high levels of cancer and another things like this and people are aware right above ground testing is going on. So the question about the end of civilization, right? What do these weapons mean for humanity that's captured pretty early, maybe not in popular culture, but at least in academic culture by a guy named John hers who's kind of classic realist thinker and says, maybe the nation state doesn't have a purpose anymore. Especially the state aspect of that because of the fundamental purpose of the state is to protect its inhabitants from physical via. Destruction with the advent of long range bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads. The state can't do that anymore. And then you move on to kind of people like herald last well who are writing books on the garrison state. So even if the state perseveres, it will have control over every single aspect of your life, economic civil private because the threat of nuclear annihilation will be so great that the government will be able to use as justification to tell people where they can live and what they can produce in what kind of job they need to have, and everybody will be serving in the military, right? Which is kind of for a country like America founded on anti-state. ISM is the ultimate nightmare. So this stuff is penetrating. I mean, even afraid it's not the end of humanity, right? It's going to be very different possible civilization politically speaking. So that didn't happen? No. What did happen was the Cuban missile crisis, which still is I think probably the closest we've ever come to nuclear war were that night mess. Omonia comes to pause. What did that change? So. The nuclear crisis over Cuba changes a couple of things. I think first off increases the appreciation between Moscow and Washington of the importance of transparency, and there's a lot of stuff even though we think of the Cuban missile crisis as situation that was handled well, ultimately, maybe perhaps was the United States victory. There's a lot of stuff that the decision makers on the day of right or the two weeks of the crisis basically don't know that is really important to note like how many missiles are on the ground and Cuban are the armed with nuclear warheads or not. Right. And how many Russian submarines are in the area and do those have nuclear torpedoes turns out they did right. So there's a lot of stuff that could have gone wrong..

Coming up next