Posted by: captainfalcon | May 8, 2012


One more post and then back to work-work-work. Last night, I spiraled from the pages about Pittsburgh’s funiculars deep into Cold War paranoia (Curtis LeMay, Herman Kuhn, Joe McCarthy, Project Blue Book, missile gap, the New Look, second strike) and eventually found myself at Stuart Symington’s page. An interesting dude: hawkish, anti-segregationist (so much so that during the 1960 presidential campaign he was the only Democratic contender to refuse to speak to segregated audiences), anti-McCarthyite Democrat who resigned his senatorial seat in order to preserve seniority for his Republican successor (don’t make ’em like that anymore).

Sanctimonious Stu, as McCarthy called him, was responsible for passing a law forbidding the expenditure of tax dollars to study how the United States might surrender to a foreign power. The impetus was a “defeatist” RAND study he thought was investigating the possibility of United States surrender to the Soviets. In fact, Symington misread and the RAND study actually surveyed past examples where the United States demanded unconditional surrender of other powers.

It would have been quite diverting to be an amateur blogger with upper-middlebrow political interests in the ’50s. (Mis)applications of Game Theory, such as Kuhn’s On Thermonuclear War, would have made for heady posts. (Kuhn, by the way, was one of the inspirations for Dr. Strangelove — the Doomsday Machine was a rhetorical device he deployed in OTW.)

Somebody should write a rollicking history of the early Cold War defense intellectuals — they seem like loons.


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