US Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946-1967

Texas A&M University Press
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In the clash of ideologies represented by the Cold War, even the heavens were not immune to militarization. Satellites and space programs became critical elements among the national security objectives of both the United States and the Soviet Union.

According to US Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946–1967, three American presidents in succession shared a fundamental objective of preserving space as a weapons-free frontier for the benefit of all humanity. Between 1953 and 1967 Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Johnson all saw nonaggressive military satellite development, as well as the civilian space program, as means to favorably shape the international community’s opinion of the scientific, technological, and military capabilities of the United States. Sean N. Kalic’s reinterpretation of the development of US space policy, based on documents declassified in the past decade, demonstrates that a single vision for the appropriate uses of space characterized American strategies across parties and administrations during this period.

Significantly, Kalic’s findings contradict the popular opinion that the United States sought to weaponize space and calls into question the traditional interpretation of the space race as a simple action/reaction paradigm. Indeed, beyond serving as a symbol and ambassador of US technological capability, its satellite program provided the United States with advanced, nonaggressive military intelligence-gathering platforms that proved critical in assessing the strategic nuclear balance between the United States and the Soviet Union. It also aided the three administrations in countering the Soviet Union’s increasing international prestige after its series of space firsts, beginning with the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

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About the author

SEAN N. KALIC is an associate professor in the Department of Military History at the US Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He holds a PhD from Kansas State University.

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Additional Information

Publisher
Texas A&M University Press
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Published on
May 2, 2012
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9781603446976
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Aviation
History / Military / Nuclear Warfare
History / United States / 20th Century
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eric Schlosser
**The documentary Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner, finds its origins in Eric Schlosser's book and continues to explore the little-known history of the management and safety concerns of America's nuclear aresenal.**

The documentary will air on PBS's American Experience on January 10th. 

A myth-shattering exposé of America’s nuclear weapons

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved—and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.

Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policy makers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.
Bret Baier
The blockbuster #1 national bestseller

Bret Baier, the Chief Political Anchor for Fox News Channel and the Anchor and Executive Editor of Special Report with Bret Baier, illuminates the extraordinary yet underappreciated presidency of Dwight Eisenhower by taking readers into Ike’s last days in power.

“Magnificently rendered. … Destined to take its place as not only one of the masterworks on Eisenhower, but as one of the classics of presidential history. … Impeccably researched, the book is nothing short of extraordinary. What a triumph!”—JAY WINIK, New York Times bestselling author of April 1865 and 1944

In Three Days in January, Bret Baier masterfully casts the period between Eisenhower’s now-prophetic farewell address on the evening of January 17, 1961, and Kennedy’s inauguration on the afternoon of January 20 as the closing act of one of modern America’s greatest leaders—during which Eisenhower urgently sought to prepare both the country and the next president for the challenges ahead.

Those three days in January 1961, Baier shows, were the culmination of a lifetime of service that took Ike from rural Kansas to West Point, to the battlefields of World War II, and finally to the Oval Office. When he left the White House, Dwight Eisenhower had done more than perhaps any other modern American to set the nation, in his words, “on our charted course toward permanent peace and human betterment.”

On January 17, Eisenhower spoke to the nation in one of the most remarkable farewell speeches in U.S. history. Ike looked to the future, warning Americans against the dangers of elevating partisanship above national interest, excessive government budgets (particularly deficit spending), the expansion of the military-industrial complex, and the creeping political power of special interests. Seeking to ready a new generation for power, Eisenhower intensely advised the forty-three-year-old Kennedy before the inauguration.

Baier also reveals how Eisenhower’s two terms changed America forever for the better, and demonstrates how today Ike offers us the model of principled leadership that polls say is so missing in politics. Three Days in January forever makes clear that Eisenhower, an often forgotten giant of U.S. history, still offers vital lessons for our own time and stands as a lasting example of political leadership at its most effective and honorable.

 

Josh Dean
An incredible true tale of espionage and engineering set at the height of the Cold War—a mix between The Hunt for Red October and Argo—about how the CIA, the U.S. Navy, and America’s most eccentric mogul spent six years and nearly a billion dollars to steal the nuclear-armed Soviet submarine K-129 after it had sunk to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean; all while the Russians were watching.

In the early hours of February 25, 1968, a Russian submarine armed with three nuclear ballistic missiles set sail from its base in Siberia on a routine combat patrol to Hawaii. Then it vanished.

As the Soviet Navy searched in vain for the lost vessel, a small, highly classified American operation using sophisticated deep-sea spy equipment found it—wrecked on the sea floor at a depth of 16,800 feet, far beyond the capabilities of any salvage that existed. But the potential intelligence assets onboard the ship—the nuclear warheads, battle orders, and cryptological machines—justified going to extreme lengths to find a way to raise the submarine.

So began Project Azorian, a top-secret mission that took six years, cost an estimated $800 million, and would become the largest and most daring covert operation in CIA history.

After the U.S. Navy declared retrieving the sub “impossible,” the mission fell to the CIA's burgeoning Directorate of Science and Technology, the little-known division responsible for the legendary U-2 and SR-71 Blackbird spy planes. Working with Global Marine Systems, the country's foremost maker of exotic, deep-sea drilling vessels, the CIA commissioned the most expensive ship ever built and told the world that it belonged to the reclusive billionaire Howard Hughes, who would use the mammoth ship to mine rare minerals from the ocean floor. In reality, a complex network of spies, scientists, and politicians attempted a project even crazier than Hughes’s reputation: raising the sub directly under the watchful eyes of the Russians.

The Taking of K-129 is a riveting, almost unbelievable true-life tale of military history, engineering genius, and high-stakes spy-craft set during the height of the Cold War, when nuclear annihilation was a constant fear, and the opportunity to gain even the slightest advantage over your enemy was worth massive risk.
Sean N. Kalic
Combating a Modern Hydra: Al Qaeda and the Global War on Terrorism is number eight in the Combat Studies Institute s Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) Occasional Paper series. This work resulted from discussions at Fort Leavenworth about the nature of the enemy facing the United States and its allies since 11 September 2001. Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network had been present at some level in the national and international consciousness since the late 1990s. The events of 11 September 2001 and subsequent global operations taken against Al Qaeda have brought this group to the forefront of the GWOT. While successes have been achieved in the GWOT, the enemy has proven to be resilient and adaptive. This study by Mr. Sean Kalic, of the Department of Military History, US Army Command and General Staff College, examines modern transnational terrorism from the 1960s to the present day, with special emphasis on the adaptation Al Qaeda and other nonstate actors have taken in response to the actions of the United States and its allies. This work provides a cautionary warning about the likelihood Al Qaeda will continue to survive and execute missions in the current operating environment. Mr. Kalic synthesizes much of the pertinent literature and offers insights into the actions taken to ght terrorists. Most importantly, he advises a continual reevaluation of the threat, based on Al Qaeda's exibility, resiliency, and adaptability. Of cers and soldiers who have recently served in operations against the terrorist worldwide will certainly see utility here. As the US Army continues its efforts in combating terrorists, the thoughts found in this narrative are well worth considering.
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