`Missile gap’ fear mongering deja vu
By PAT MURPHY
Express Staff Writer
Just north of Shoshone on Highway 75, a sign points to
"civil defense shelter" in Mammoth Caves, a remnant of Cold War
fears of nuclear powers swapping missiles.
There’s where people would’ve retreated had missiles
struck Idaho, assuming they had time to find the caves and hide.
They’re now a tourist attraction, stripped of
communications equipment and food staples stashed for survivors of a
nuclear explosion. Civil Defense has been superseded by the Federal
Emergency Management Agency to cope with natural disasters.
But wait: might we yet become cave dwellers?
President Bush is talking darkly of new missile threats
and the need for a "Star Wars" anti-missile defense shield.
The Chinese and Russians, predictably, react by seeing a
new U.S. arms buildup that they’d greet with their own missile buildup
So the paranoia and arms race cycle could begin anew –
nuclear nations doing each other one better as new systems are built.
As a newspaperman in Miami, Fla., during the Bay of Pigs
and the missile crisis when Russia was building launch sites in Cuba, I
saw the consequences on people of nations playing the missile card.
Most people were concerned but calm. Some, however, were
hysterical – building backyard concrete nuclear fallout shelters. A few
even fled Florida with their families. Children were filled with
foreboding as they rehearsed how to hide from a nuclear blast.
Civil defense shelters in buildings were stocked and ready
for the worst.
In the end, nuclear powers realized the insanity of atomic
But is hysteria being revived, fueled by reckless
presidential talk? Are aging old warriors brought out of retirement by
President Bush eager to relive the glory days of the Cold War by rattling
the nuclear saber and cranking up the missile assembly lines again for
defense industries in need of contracts?
For purely political purposes, President John Kennedy
falsely claimed in his 1960 campaign against Richard Nixon there was a
"missile gap," thereby setting off an arms race that lasted for
more than a generation.
Is President Bush engaging in the same "missile
gap" fear mongering?
Republicans who worry that Hillary Clinton might try for
the presidency can breathe easier.
She and her ex-president husband are washed up as
If shameless behavior in the White House didn’t do it,
they destroyed what little goodwill remained in their last few days as
president and First Lady.
Clinton’s outrageous pardon of a fugitive swindler with
Democratic ties; Hillary Clinton’s 11th hour grabby
solicitation of expensive home furnishings, and vandalism of White House
offices by adolescent Clinton staffers made the Clintons’ look every bit
as tacky as political enemies tried to caricature them.
Fighting back at junk mail offering cut-rate credit cards
and other financial deals, a devilish-minded friend has launched a
campaign ¾ return the self-addressed, postage-paid envelope to the
soliciting businesses but filled with other junk mail solicitations.
This way, solicitors pay twice for postage going and
coming, and get a clear message of disgust from people who resent junk
This is as good as putting phone solicitors on hold.