Skip to main content

Three events from the Cold War

Dr. Strangelove poster.jpg

I recently received an expository challenge: identify three key events from the "cold war" and describe each in 3-4 sentences. A test of terseness, I suppose. Okay, gauntlet picked up.

1. Korean War.

North Korea, a nation aligned with the Soviet Union and the newly declared People's Republic of China, invaded South Korea in June 1950. U.S. infantry units began arriving in the south on July 1. The North Korean army had been effectively destroyed by the middle of that October, but matters escalated with the entry of Chinese troops into the peninsula late that month, and their defeat of US troops at Unsan on November 1. Eventually, a military stalemate developed in the middle of the peninsula, which is where the default line of ceasefire was drawn in 1953, at war's end.

2. "Missile gap" charges.

In the 1960 Presidential campaign in the United States, Senator Kennedy charged that the outgoing Eisenhower administration had allowed the Soviets to acquire a strategic nuclear advantage he called the "missile gap." This was a natural impression created by some real Soviet accomplishments, including the launch of the first artificial earth satellite, Sputnik, in October 1957. But historians agree the only actual missile gap was very much to the advantage of the United States.

3.  Cuban missile crisis.

On October 14, 1962 an American spy plane flying over Cuba photographed Soviet missiles there. In the days to come, the Joint Chiefs of Staff strongly urged President Kennedy to respond with an air strike, an act that -- it seems certain -- would have initiated a nuclear exchange between the superpowers. Kennedy opted instead for a blockade of Cuba and a demand that the missiles be removed. Despite jitters the crisis was in time resolved peaceably.


Popular posts from this blog

A Story About Coleridge

This is a quote from a memoir by Dorothy Wordsworth, reflecting on a trip she took with two famous poets, her brother, William Wordsworth, and their similarly gifted companion, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

We sat upon a bench, placed for the sake of one of these views, whence we looked down upon the waterfall, and over the open country ... A lady and gentleman, more expeditious tourists than ourselves, came to the spot; they left us at the seat, and we found them again at another station above the Falls. Coleridge, who is always good-natured enough to enter into conversation with anybody whom he meets in his way, began to talk with the gentleman, who observed that it was a majestic waterfall. Coleridge was delighted with the accuracy of the epithet, particularly as he had been settling in his own mind the precise meaning of the words grand, majestic, sublime, etc., and had discussed the subject with William at some length the day before. “Yes, sir,” says Coleridge, “it is a majestic wate…

Cancer Breakthrough

Hopeful news in recent days about an old and dear desideratum: a cure for cancer. Or at least for a cancer, and a nasty one at that.

The news comes about because investors in GlaxoSmithKline are greedy for profits, and has already inspired a bit of deregulation to boot. 

The FDA has paved the road for a speedy review of a new BCMA drug for multiple myeloma, essentially cancer of the bone marrow. This means that the US govt has removed some of the hurdles that would otherwise (by decision of the same govt) face a company trying to proceed with these trials expeditiously. 

This has been done because the Phase I clinical trial results have been very promising. The report I've seen indicates that details of these results will be shared with the world on Dec. 11 at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology. 

The European Medicines Agency has also given priority treatment to the drug in question. 

GSK's website identifies the drug at issue as "GSK2857916," althou…

Hume's Cutlery

David Hume is renowned for two pieces of cutlery, the guillotine and the fork.

Hume's guillotine is the sharp cut he makes between "is" statements and "ought" statements, to make the point that the former never ground the latter.

His "fork" is the division between what later came to be called "analytic" and "synthetic" statements, with the ominous observation that any books containing statements that cannot be assigned to one or the other prong should be burnt.

Actually, I should acknowledge that there is some dispute as to how well or poorly the dichotomy Hume outlines really maps onto the analytic/synthetic dichotomy. Some writers maintain that Hume meant something quite different and has been hijacked. Personally, I've never seen the alleged difference however hard they've worked to point it out to me.

The guillotine makes for a more dramatic graphic than a mere fork, hence the bit of clip art above.

I'm curious whe…