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

Great Chain of Being

One of the points that Lovejoy makes in the book of that title I mentioned last week is the importance, in the Neo-Platonist conceptions and in the later development of the "chain of being" metaphor, of what he calls the principle of plenitude. This is the underlying notion that everything that can exist must exist, that creation would not be possible at all were it to leave gaps.

The value of this idea for a certain type of theodicy is clear enough.

This caused theological difficulties when these ideas were absorbed into Christianity.  I'll quote a bit of what Lovejoy has to say about those difficulties:

"For that conception, when taken over into Christianity, had to be accommodated to very different principles, drawn from other sources, which forbade its literal interpretation; to carry it through to what seemed to be its necessary implications was to be sure of falling into one theological pitfall or another."

The big pitfalls were: determinism on the on…

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…