Politics and Force Levels: The Strategic Missile Program of the Kennedy Administration

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Politics and Force Levels: The Strategic Missile Program of the Kennedy Administration

By Desmond Ball
University of California Press, 1981
352 pp. $27.50
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As the U.S. commences a new buildup of strategic forces, there may be some value in taking a close look at a previous one. Fears of a "missile gap" vis-à-vis the Soviet Union expressed before President Kennedy's election led him to undertake a major missile buildup. By the time actual decisions were taken the existence of the missile gap was disproved, but the 1,000 Minuteman ICBM program went ahead as planned. The author deftly examines the complex political process at play, including the role of Congress, the military, and the pressures on the President. How was the 1,000 figure arrived at? Viscerally and according to what bureaucratic politics required, the author argues, in this meticulous and credible study.