The Missile Next Door

The Missile Next Door Between And The United States Air Force Buried , Minuteman Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles In Pastures Across The Great Plains The Missile Next Door Tells The Story Of How Rural Americans Of All Political Stripes Were Drafted To Fight The Cold War By Living With Nuclear Missiles In Their Backyards And What That Story Tells Us About Enduring Political Divides And The Persistence Of Defense SpendingBy Scattering The Missiles In Out Of The Way Places, The Defense Department Kept The Chilling Calculus Of Cold War Nuclear Strategy Out Of View This Subterfuge Was Necessary, Gretchen Heefner Argues, In Order For Americans To Accept A Costly Nuclear Buildup And The Resulting Threat Of Armageddon As For The Ranchers, Farmers, And Other Civilians In The Plains States Who Were First Seduced By The Economics Of War And Then Forced To Live In The Soviet Crosshairs, Their Sense Of Citizenship Was Forever Changed Some Were Stirred To Dissent Others Consented But Found Their Proud Plains Individualism Giving Way To A Growing Dependence On The Military Industrial Complex Even Today, Some Communities Express Reluctance To Let The Minutemen Go, Though The Air Force No Longer Wants Them Buried In The HeartlandComplicating A Red State Blue State Reading Of American Politics, Heefner S Account Helps To Explain The Deep Distrust Of Government Found In Many Western Regions, And Also An Addiction To Defense Spending Which, For Many Local Economies, Seems Inescapable

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  • Hardcover
  • 294 pages
  • The Missile Next Door
  • Gretchen Heefner
  • English
  • 12 March 2019
  • 9780674059115

10 thoughts on “The Missile Next Door

  1. says:

    I recently read Command and Control Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosser, in which he detailed US nuclear policy from 1945 to present, as well as discussed the safety of these weapons from accidents in the context of the Damascus, AR accident I was very engaged by his writing and wanted to learn While reviewing titles at my library, I noticed this book, The Missile Next Door, and decided to give it a shot In the end, I wish I had just stuck with Schlosser s book I m not sure how much to trust the claims of The Missile Next Door, which appears to be largely the content of Heefner s PhD thesis Inaccuracies abound such as 1 a claim the War Department was temporary until post WWII while the War Department existed continuously since the days of the Articles of Confederation and from 1886 to 1947 the Secretary of War was third in the presidential line of succession a far cry from a temporary department.2 discussing the relative frequency of Broken Arrow events in the US nuclear arsenal during the Cold War The issue is not that the frequency was not relatively high but rather the fact that broken arrow events are accidental events involving nuclear weapons that DOES NOT create the risk of nuclear war For instance, the crash of a plane carrying a nuclear weapon or the accidental explosion of a missile as happened in Damascus, AR are broken arrow events The scrambling of bombers would not occur due to a broken arrow, which is opposite the claim made in the book 3 Heefner treats development in missiles as to be almost interchangeable For instance, there seems to be no reason for the development of the Minuteman missile given the existence of the Titan Atlas missiles and, once given the Minuteman I, there is no reason for II or III However, the Atlas missile couldn t be stored ready to lunch and had a circular error probable the radius of a circle about the target within which 50% of missiles will land of 0.9 miles On the other hand, the first Minuteman missiles were accurate to 0.7 miles The Minuteman II was accurate to 0.3 miles and the III is accurate to 0.12 miles 200 meters This is important as the early missiles and Minuteman I were basically only useful for targeting cities and other large population centers where a miss by 1 mile is still close enough A counter force or no cities strategy that attempted to narrowly target nuclear weapon sites or the military of an enemy would require much higher accuracy missing a hardened silo by 1 mile would not disable that silo Other examples exist in the book but these are three that stood out to me when I was reading it If Heefner does not accurately report the history of the War Department, to what extent do I trust her claims of rancher attitudes and trust her not to be sampling an extreme fringe movement If she doesn t understand what a broken arrow event is, despite defining it in the book, how accurate is her coverage of the safety trade offs of nuclear weapons Does she not see why some see saw a moral value in a counter force no cities approach to targeting Does she not see why older weapons like Atlas Titan or even the Titan II were not the preferred weapons for this type of approach Additionally, Heefner seems to position the ranchers in this story as noble heroes fighting the national security state and nuclear war They were social justice activists and fighting for what is clearly Heefner s vision of what is right no nuclear weapons However, nearly every action taken by the ranchers from the 60s to 90s in opposition to the Air Force or to the missiles can be viewed as rent seeking, an activity designed to increase their share of existing resources land and wealth without creating any new value They were acting as self interested economic actors concern about the the Air Force and Army Core of Engineers possibly damaging the aquifer, for instance, was not because of some desire to be stewards of the land the rate of decline in the Ogallala aquifer, for instance, suggests little concern for those issues but because they wanted to use the water and the land for their purposes In total, I don t trust Heefner s authority on these issues She has a strong personal opposition to nuclear weapons This biases her view of the ranchers and casts their anti nuclear weapon efforts which likely were entirely self interested as noble opposition to nuclear war and militarism I don t trust her not to distort actual community sentiment to these weapons and the related processes She seems to have a weak command of US military history and US nuclear policy and the interaction between that policy and weapon technology, which combined with her personal anti military views, suggest a biased reading of evidence and history At this point, I d recommend staying away from The Missile Next Door Schlosser is clearly deeply uncomfortable with the risks posed by nuclear weapons and it shows in his book Command and Control but he approaches the topic in a much balanced and open manner The relations between US and NATO political demands, missile technology and US strategy are fully explored.

  2. says:

    not sure if the problem was lack of content to support the authors viewpoint but if you re not a farmer and don t have a minuteman missile in your yard, it s hard to swallow.yes, the American defense establishment is unnecessarily large yes, American has been militaristic since at least WWII, and perhaps even the 1770 s depending on your definition yes, politicians will repack their programs in a way that the public is most likely to accept naming the missile minuteman these are not really new novel ideas.not enough content for a book could have been a magazine article.

  3. says:

    Gretchen Heefner s The Missile Next Door gives a nice background on the Minuteman missiles and their widespread deployment in the upper Midwest and Western states While I clearly remember the Cold War and the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction, the details about the location, extent, and how the missiles came to be buried in rural areas in these States is not a topic I d ever thought about very much So from that perspective, I found there were some interesting tidbits in the book, just not enough to keep me fully engrossed One interesting question the book does make you think about, is how did the government military convince farmers and ranchers across the heartland of the Country to give up parcels of their property for placement of these missiles In today s lawsuit crazy and not in my backyard era, when people agree they need services, as long as those power plants or other necessities of daily life are placed in somebody else s neighborhood, it seems miraculous that these weapons ever were put in place Knowing you re living in the cross hairs should war break out, or even in peace, living with nuclear weapons in their neighborhood, is remarkable given today s mindset Those issues, along with the high cost of the missile program and the Cold War are things Heefner does highlight Of course, not everyone was pleased by the placement of the missiles, and many grew dissatisfied with the government handling of the dismantling of the silos, and those personal stories are included in her book Whether or not the political leanings of people in these heartland States, tending to support the defense spending, but distrustful of large government has any roots in the minuteman missile program from fifty years ago is not easy to conclude, but I can see the author leaning this way.

  4. says:

    This is a fascinating read about how the farmers and ranchers of the Great Plains were induced to accept Minuteman missiles into their backyards, hay fields, and grazing lands Ms Heefner makes the argument that this process, while it encouraged a populist response to the government, it ultimately made it easier to accept the logic of the national security state.Ms Heefner believes that federal dollars dedicated to national security are actually a form of welfare because those dollars are the sole economic bulwark of communities with military bases She believes that those federal dollars would be better spent in the cause of social justice or policies aimed at welfare, education, etc I would like to point out that, while both types of outlays of federal monies could be termed welfare, military related outlays bolster the economy dollars spent that way support long term, high paying jobs that generate the very tax money that is used to support the other kind of welfare The funds for social programs to help the needy would not be possible without a healthy economy Ms Heefner needs to analyze the pros and cons of her favored type of welfare just as she does with Defense welfare Value signalling may be necessary to establish academic cred, but it undermines her entire argument by making her seem hopelessly biased.

  5. says:

    This was an excellent book to read after my tour of the Minuteman missile and control sites near Wall, SD a few weeks ago Great history of the program AND the local feelings, on both sides of the issue, about having nuclear missiles buried on your privately owned property.

  6. says:

    half way into audiobook and its still talking about getting land boring.

  7. says:

    Despite the Air Force and contractors spinning the new missile defense system as the Minuteman and characterizing missileers as good, white collar technocrats with briefcases, the government found that New England could rally protests and midwestern areas had farmers and ranchers unthrilled with losing key acreages and access to their land Thus, the military and the government had to engage with rural people community outreach, emphasis that they were the frontline of the Cold War, infusions of cash into the local economies Heefner pieces together the propaganda and the official version, as well as the angry landowners, the community meetings, the political wheeling and dealing and the fun unleashed with the Environmental Protection Act forced the military to open it s records for public comment I was very familiar with Mountain Home AFB in Idaho, and then the missile sites in N Dakota, so this is an interesting reinforcement of the red state oddity intensely rural areas with extreme individualist ideas, dependent on government subsidy of basic infrastructure and federal projects.

  8. says:

    This book covers the history of the Minuteman missile the west and mid western United States Focus is on the ranchers and farmers who had Minuteman silos installed on their property The book discusses the impact of the missile and Air Force on the local communities and economy This an interesting read, if you are interested in the history of missiles or Cold War History This book highlights another example of how the US government has taken advantage of citizens in the name of national security.

  9. says:

    A fascinating study of the relationship between mid westerners and the nuclear deterrent force Heefner has much to say about the absorption of militarism and its values by traditional rural people, and offers insights into the economic and patriotic motivations that made it possible The chapters are a little disjointed, and Heefner perhaps places too much emphasis on the Minuteman as different from its predecessors, Atlas and Titan, as well as from airbases, but overall the work hangs together.

  10. says:

    Are you considered with nuclear weapons of mass destruction I am so i read this book Some will say it is too left leaning and some will say it does not go far enough if you want to understand how the cold war affect America s heartland for 30 years, it s really good if you want a better understanding of how we got so many nukes and what happened to them it s kind of good too Overall, I gave it three stars because I learned a great deal about the cold war but I wanted to really understand the current threat the nukes in the US may be under I didn t really get that here.

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