Atomic fears and the arms race
- The US government's decision to develop a hydrogen bomb, first tested in 1952, committed the United States to an ever-escalating arms race with the Soviet Union. The arms race led many Americans to fear that nuclear war could happen at any time, and the US government urged citizens to prepare to survive an atomic bomb.
- In 1950, the US National Security Council released NSC-68, a secret policy paper that called for quadrupling defense spending in order to meet the perceived Soviet threat. NSC-68 would define US defense strategy throughout the Cold War.
- President Eisenhower attempted to cut defense spending by investing in a system of "massive retaliation," hoping that the prospect of "mutually-assured destruction" from a large nuclear arsenal would deter potential aggressors.