Khrushchev’s Second-Best Deterrent
The missile crisis left Kennedy’s reputation enhanced and strengthened his political position. It had the opposite effect on Khrushchev. He was the one who had taken the initiative and then backed down. In the late 1950s he had taken advantage of the belief that the Soviet Union was moving ahead in the arms race. His posturing was now shown up as being based on exaggerated claims which had led to strategic inferiority. By this time he had also made many enemies in the Soviet system, not least among the military establishment, who felt that insufficient regard was being paid to the employment of types of forces other than long-range missiles.