The making of American power (2): the Cold War

This week, I attended week 2 of an eight-week evening class at London”s City Literary Institute. The title is “The making of American power: US foreign policy from the Cold War to Trump” and our lecturer is Jack Gain.

Week 2 of the course addressed Cold War power politics with the Soviet Union.

We talked a lot about the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. I was 14 years old at the time and really scared. At the time, it looked as if John Kennedy had faced down Nikita Khrushchev decisively, but it was only years later that it was revealed that the Soviet leader agreed to remove his missiles from Cuba in return for the Americans agreeing to remove (outdated) Jupiter missiles from Turkey at a later date.

The Cuban missile crisis showed that the weapons themselves are the problem. Britain is now in pole position to lead a “nuclear disarmament race”. In a 2009 letter to the Times, Field Marshal Lord Bramall and Generals Lord Ramsbotham and Sir Hugh Beach denounced Trident as “completely useless”.

Ditching the system may be a no-brainer for the generals, but not for politicians afraid of a public opinion that equates nuclear weapons with vague notions of “being strong”. And yet getting rid of Trident would gift the Treasury a windfall of more than £25bn – enough to finance a million affordable homes.


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