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Sunday, September 10, 2006

September 10, 1960: State Department Blasts Soviets on Berlin, All Civilian Air Traffic Grounded for NORAD Test, Khrushchev Disarmament Considered

The U.S. State Department blamed the Soviet Union for new travel restrictions imposed by the East German government in Berlin. The State Department also called the action "completely illegal." A West German official called the travel restrictions part of a plan by East Germany and the Soviet Union to allow the "slow strangulation" of West Berlin. The ban went into effect yesterday.

The U.S. Air Force tested the nation's air defenses against a Soviet attack on this day in 1960. All civilian air traffic in the United States was grounded for six hours to allow for the exercise, termed Sky Shield. It was the largest test ever conducted by the North American Air Defense Command. In the exercise the enemy tried to destroy every major city in the U.S. and Canada, along with all major military bases.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev's disarmament proposals by and large have not be given serious consideration in the West. But a commentary in The Nation on this day in 1960 takes a contrarian point of view. "We have lived so long with the cold war that our very capacity to think about foreign policy has atrophied," Stanley Millet, professor at Briarcliff College, writes in the magazine's September 10, 1960 issue. "If the free world has been unable to break free of stale commitments, such as not been the case in the unfree East. The Khrushchev proposals to bring the cold war to an end through peaceful coexistence are just such an attempt at a radical formulation of Russian foreign policy and of the principles upon which that policy has been based since the end of the Second World War."

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