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Doomsday gap?

Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report
A trio of front page articles from 1962 addressing crisis in Cuba.
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OKLAHOMA CITY – Exactly 14 years to the day, before I was born, when U.S. Sen. John F. Kennedy first used the term “missile gap” – a phrase that was later parodied in Stanley Kubrick’s Cold War classic Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb and called a “Doomsday gap.”

In that film, which was scheduled to be previewed by film critics on Nov. 22, 1963 – but was held off because it was the same day Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas – the Russian ambassador explains that his government had heard – via The New York Times! – that it was reported the U.S. was also working on a “Doomsday machine.” An arms race of insanity.

We were afraid of a Doomsday gap,” the ambassador tells President Muffley (Peter Sellers).

After the assassination, Kubrick and Columbia Pictures opted to hold off screening the anti-war farce until a few weeks later, in early 1964.

But that “Doomsday gap” comment, in retrospect, comes off as a backhanded criticism of Kennedy’s presumed militarism.

It happened on August 14, 1958. The same year Kennedy was re-elected to a second term in the Senate, representing Massachusetts. But he was also planning a run for the presidency in 1960 and began pounding away at President Eisenhower and the Republicans about being “weak on defense.”

Why? The Soviet Union had launched Sputnik in 1957 and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev announced that the USSR had an ICBM with a range of 8,000 miles and that they were in “mass production.”

Kennedy said: “Our Nation could have afforded, and can afford now, the steps necessary to close the missile gap.

Naturally, this being the Cold War, there was concern about this and so certain interests wanted to ramp up production of America’s nuclear arsenal in those dark days of the Cold War, leading up to the October 1962 missile crisis – nearly two years after outgoing President Eisenhower warned Americans of the growing “military-industrial complex.”

Nevertheless, Kennedy wanted to appear strong on defense and so initially (and unwittingly) Kennedy used inflated numbers provided to him by U.S. Sen. Stuart Symington (D-Mo.). Symington was a former Secretary of the Air Force from 1947-50, who provided those inflated U.S. Air Force numbers.

Coincidentally, Symington was head of the U.S. Air Force when Project Sign was initiated in 1948 , a government study of the UFO phenomenon, and its follow-up, in 1949, Project Grudge. Sec. Symington likely knew A LOT about the UFO mystery he did not share with his Show-Me State constituents or the rest of the American people.

These would lead up to the launching of the notorious Project Blue Book (1952-69), which was later viewed as a government project designed to actually cover-up real reports of UFOs.

Curiously, Sen. Symington’s cousin, Fife Symington III, was governor of Arizona when the widely-reported “Phoenix Lights” UFO sighting occurred in March 1997.

At the time, due to public pressure and so many witnesses, Gov. Symington said he was going to investigate the mass UFO sighting over Arizona’s capital city, only to later hold a press conference and bring out his chief of staff in an alien costume – making the whole thing a big joke.

But 10 years later, Symington made a major admission, saying he actually saw the UFO himself, calling it a “great mystery.”

It was enormous and inexplicable. Who knows where it came from? A lot of people saw it, and I saw it too. It was dramatic. And it couldn't have been flares because it was too symmetrical. It had a geometric outline, a constant shape.


So, with the Cold War heating up during Kennedy’s term as president, it is said that he had a serious affair with actress and starlet Marilyn Monroe in the years leading up to her death (allegedly a suicide induced by an overdose of pills)

In a book I read and reviewed – Dr. Donald R. Burleson’s UFOs and the Murder of Marilyn Monroe, the author alleges the Kennedy brothers had Monroe killed because she allegedly “knew too much” and had evidence kept in a secret diary. Apparently, Monroe was upset that she was being increasingly left out in the cold by the Kennedys. She felt used and wanted revenge and allegedly planned to hold a press conference about “what she knew.”

Was this about Kennedy’s acknowledgement that the UFO “threat” was real? Classified investigations were taking place during the Kennedy administration as they were during the Eisenhower years, presumably with their knowledge. This was the era when most Americans "trusted" their government. Sure, secret projects were being conducted, many assumed, but with our best interest in mind, right?

As I noted in my review: “Apparently, Marilyn Monroe was aware of not only the crashed Roswell saucer, but of JFK’s plans to kill Cuba’s Fidel Castro.”

And then there was Kennedy's assassination a little over a year later. A lot of high weirdness surrounding that horrific event in our history.


Again, this was in late summer of 1962, just weeks before those 13 days in October, better known as the “Cuban Missile Crisis.” With tensions between the U.S. and USSR at their heightes, particularly over concerns regarding Soviet ballistic missile deployment in Cuba – 90 miles from American shores – the Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to attack and invade the island nation, controlled by Fidel Castro.

Direct aggression against Cuba would mean nuclear war,” said Ernesto “Che” Guevara , as reported in The Times of London in an article headlined: “Attack us at your peril, Cocky Cuba warns U.S.”

Che Guevara would be executed five years later in remote Bolivia under suspicious circumstances, as we’ve noted before.

Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed back in '62 and a nuclear exchange was avoided. But the nukes never really went away. Many still exist and more countries now have nukes, as North Korea has announced. And with the egomaniacal and crazed Kim Jong-un in power, it seems as though these two bad-haired narcissists are bringing the world ever closer to World War III.


History has a funny – and frightening – way of repeating itself. Look at the tensions between right and left here in the United States. With the U.S. Civil War having ended 152 years ago, we seem to be fighting the same battles again, while addressing issues regarding race and equality that have not been adequately addressed for all these years, as things came to a head last week in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left a 32-year old protester, Heather Heyer, dead - and Nazi sympathizers practically gleeful.

And yet President Trump sends signals to American fascists, racists and Nazi sympathizers that while he may not support them, the anti-fascist groups are equally bad.

A meme making the rounds notes that that is similar to the Star Wars rebels fighting the Empire being compared and on a “level-playing field” with the planet-destroying Death Star.

As author and Dartmouth College lecturer Mark Bray, an expert on “Antifa,” told Democracy Now this week: "And, you know, President Trump’s comments that the alt—quote-unquote, "alt-left" and alt-right are equivalent moral forces is really historically misinformed and morally bankrupt. The anti-fascist movement has a global history that stretches back over—about a century. You can trace them to Italian opposition to Mussolini’s Blackshirts, German opposition to Hitler’s Brownshirts, anti-fascists from around the world who had traveled to Spain to fight in the Spanish Civil War. 

Over the past four years I have devoted a lot of time studying the history of the Spanish Civil War. While this was a conflict between fascists and anti-fascists in Spain, international help came from around the world, including the United States. People like longtime Dougherty, Okla. resident and congressional candidate Eugene V. "Debs" Poling, who left Oklahoma to fight the Gen. Franco's fascists in the late 1930's, only to be given a hard time - like so many other American anti-fascist volunteers - when we entered World War II, as being "premature anti-fascists." 

That, of course, is absurd. Ask yourself: Is there ever a bad time to oppose fascism? Here at Red Dirt Report we have been warning readers for a long time now that fascism would truly take root in this country if Trump was elected president, as we predicted in a December 2015 article "Trumpism and the fascist menace."

But many people, in those months before the election, did not want to believe that Trump truly held such odious views and was not willing to wholeheartedly condemn white nationalists, racists and fascists from the get-go. Here in Oklahoma, some of Trump's most vocal supporters were people like the disgraced State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R-OKC) and Islamophobic legislator State Rep. John Bennett, a Republican from Sallisaw.

Isn't there something to be said about "the company you keep"? 

In any event, Trump's ongoing "dog-whistle politics" helped elect him and now he seems to be doubling down as Democrats, and a few Republicans, call for Trump's censure over his repugnant "defense of white supremacists," as House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California said in a statement today.

And then there are those seriously questioning Donald Trump's mental health.

(Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

But back to that Democracy Now interview with Mark Bray and the anti-fascists opposing Trump and the growing fascist menace in America:

More recently, modern antifa can largely trace its roots to the anti-fascist movement in Britain in the ’70s, and the postwar period more generally, that was responding to a xenophobic backlash against predominantly Caribbean and South Asian migration, also to the German autonomous movement of the ’80s, which, really, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, had to respond to a really unprecedented neo-Nazi wave—unprecedented in the postwar period, of course.

We should also note, in regards to the Spanish Civil War template, that international volunteers from around the world have been coming to the northern Syria area of Rojava to help the leftist YPG (People's Protection Units) fight ISIS and other related butchers and madmen running amok in that corner of the world. One wonders if Trump is aware of the egalitarian and anti-fascist YPG and what they actually stand for, considering YPG spokespeople said this week that the U.S. intends to stay in that autonomous region "for decades to come."


Meanwhile, back in Washington (and at a few town halls, including here in Oklahoma) you see formerly spineless Republicans starting to back away from toxic Trump, who, despite his mass wealth, is a sort of “King Midas in Reverse" and causing the GOP to sink ever deeper into the shithole of their own making.

And when that is the case, where everything you touch turns to shit, it gets mega-scary when one thinks about the power a president has, particularly when it comes to the threat of thermonuclear war.

Today, in the New York Post, North Korea’s Deputy United Nations Ambassador Kim In Ryong said that if the Trump administration keeps up its “hostile policy and nuclear threat,” they will never put their nuclear weapons program “on the negotiating table.”

And with Trump's administration is full-scale crisis mode and more rats ("the best people!") flee that sinking ship, we can only wonder what horrors and doom lie just around the corner. 

I'll end with a "letter to the editor" we received from Oklahoma City resident Frank Silovsky. He has distinct memories of those 13 days in October 1962 when the world was at the precipice of a global thermonuclear war.

Never will I forget that October day in 1962 when I sat in my dorm room "frozen" by the image of President Kennedy announcing to the nation that he had ordered our navy to stop and search every Soviet vessel heading to Cuba for the possibility of finding and removing missile launchers and/or nuclear explosives. Armageddon seemed nigh! That had been my deepest sense of impending doom. Until now.

Khrushchev and Kennedy had both experienced the horror of war so their steady hands averted ultimate war.

We are presently experiencing a very different and even stronger possibility of nuclear war. To our horror, the competing nations this time are led by two absolutely uninformed, bombastic, immature heads of state with no concept of war playing "chicken" with nuclear weapons! 

North Koreans are helpless under their mad dictator. However, we have our illustrious Constitution providing ways to prevent "mad leadership" from dooming us. The 25th Amendment could eliminate our half of the madness. Is there time? Is there the courage? "We the people" can determine our fate.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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