Back to Home Page

Local Links
Sun Valley Guide
Hemingway in Sun Valley
Real Estate

Opinion Column
For the week of January 31 through February 6, 2001

`Missile gap’ fear mongering deja vu

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 Civil Defense has been superseded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cope with natural disasters.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 programs.

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 warfare.

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 political forces.

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 mail.

This is as good as putting phone solicitors on hold.


Back to Front Page
Copyright © 2000 Express Publishing Inc. All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited.