The Gaither Report

President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dr. Von Braun and Others
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Dr. Von Braun and Others

The crises Eisenhower faced at the end of 1957 can be traced to both domestic and foreign policy issues. Without under emphasizing the widespread disenchantment with Eisenhower’s handling of race relations and the economy, the concern of most Americans in late 1957 lay elsewhere. For the first time, the Soviet Union had made a significant technological advancement ahead of the United States. On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union shocked the world with the launch of Sputnik. Coupled with the Kremlin’s earlier claim of a successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the launch of Sputnik II on November 3, and the embarrassing failure of the United States Vanguard rocket in December, the Soviet satellite represented a clear challenge to U.S. technological superiority. More importantly, it raised the possibility that the Soviet Union might be able to launch a surprise nuclear attack against the United States using this new missile technology. Eisenhower’s attempts to minimize the implications of the Soviet accomplishments only inflated fears as many Americans assumed he was trying to conceal U.S. military weaknesses.

1957 Gaither Report

Gaither Report

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