John F. Kennedy and the missile gap /
Christopher A. Preble.
DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, c2004.
xi, 244 p. : 1 ill.
0875803326 (alk. paper)
More Details
DeKalb : Northern Illinois University Press, c2004.
0875803326 (alk. paper)
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2005-09-01:
In this succinct, compelling study, Cato Institute foreign policy studies director Preble argues that an analysis of the story of John F. Kennedy and the "missile gap" can serve as a metaphor for the Cold War military-industrial complex, demonstrating the pervasive relationship between politics, economics, and national security. Kennedy built his national political career on the missile gap issue, alleging that President Eisenhower and Vice President Nixon had allowed the US to fall behind the USSR in the deployment of ICBMs. Kennedy rejected Eisenhower's accurate assessment of national security policies because he believed that Eisenhower had shortchanged US military spending. He further predicted that an increase in military spending would boost the economy and attract defense workers to the Democratic Party. Upon taking office in 1961, Kennedy and his aides learned that the missile gap was a myth. Nonetheless, Kennedy increased military spending by 15 percent, because he wanted to expand conventional forces and create jobs. The president also did not wish to suffer a political embarrassment. Kennedy rejected Eisenhower's sound military and fiscal policies, accelerated the arms race, and helped create a "permanent war economy." ^BSumming Up: Recommended. University and college libraries, upper-division undergraduates and above. S. G. Rabe University of Texas at Dallas
Review Quotes
"Preble's contribution is significant.... [He] substantiates his thesis in great detail and draws upon excellent research."- The Journal of American History "A path-breaking study ... raises key issues with respect to both cold war historiography and present-day international politics."- The International History Review "An extremely thorough, well-documented effort."- American Historical Review
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Choice, September 2005
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Unpaid Annotation
"Americans' fears of an alleged Soviet strategic superiority, known as the ""missile gap,"" helped to propel John F. Kennedy to the presidency. Preble argues that the Kennedy administration perpetuated the missile gap myth to justify a massive military build-up that had profound implications for both the domestic economy and for American foreign relations."
Main Description
John F. Kennedy owed his victorious bid for the presidency-as well as his success in reversing former president Dwight D. Eisenhower's military and economic policies while in office-largely to his ability to exploit fears of an alleged Soviet strategic superiority, famously known as the "missile gap." Capitalizing on American alarms about national security, within months after his inauguration, he won Congressional authorization for two supplemental defense appropriations that collectively increased the defense budget by more than 15 percent. Yet, argues Christopher Preble, the missile gap was a myth. The Kennedy administration perpetuated that myth to justify a massive military buildup that had profound implications for both the domestic economy and for American foreign relations. Eisenhower had warned against excessive military spending, but the missile gap scare shook the confidence of millions of Americans. In the face of presumed Soviet dominance, Eisenhower's New Look programs no longer appeared adequate. By electing Kennedy, U.S. citizens signaled their willingness to bear any burden in exchange for peace of mind. Little did they realize that Kennedy's new military strategy, known as Flexible Response, marked a commitment to a war economy that persisted through the final days of the Cold War. The myth of the missile gap and the policies that followed had a profound impact on U.S. Soviet relations. But by inducing doubts about America's capacity for world leadership, it also weakened the resolve of the nation's allies. On the home front and in the international arena, the missile gap shaped the outcome of the Cold War.
Table of Contents
Eisenhower, the new look, and their criticsp. 19
A senator finds his voicep. 52
The presidential election of 1960 and the politics of national securityp. 102
The new frontier and the closing of the missile gapp. 147
Epilogue - the legacy of Cold War military spendingp. 182
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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