January 1957: A follow-up report by the president’s intelligence board says that the CIA’s operations were conducted “on an autonomous and freewheeling basis in highly critical areas involving the conduct of foreign relations . . . . In some quarters that leads to situations which are almost unbelievable.”
April 1957: The CIA revives their plan for “a military coup d’etat” in Syria.
April 9, 1957: Fidel Castro chooses the 10th anniversary of the Bogota riots to launch his revolt against President Fulgencio Batista in Cuba. He sets up base in the Sierra Maestra mountains with an army of 82 men.
May 1957: Alger Hiss‘s book, In the Court of Public Opinion, is published to generally scathing reviews.
May 2, 1957: Joseph McCarthy dies at the age of 47 from liver failure. He is buried 5 days later in his hometown of Appleton, Wisconsin.
June 2, 1957: First Secretary Nikita Khruschev makes his first appearance on US television, taking questions from American correspondents with the help of an interpreter. At one point he remarks:
Your grandchildren in America will live under socialism. And please do not be afraid of that.
June 20, 1957: A 5-member UN special committee unanimously votes to indict the Soviet Union for its brutal repression of the Hungarian uprising eight months earlier. The UN General Assembly votes on September 14 to condemn the USSR on the same grounds.
June 29, 1957: Khruschev ousts party leaders and former Stalin deputies Malenkov, Molokov, and Kaganovich from the Kremlin, citing their illegal activites in support of Stalin during the purges of the 1930s. In effect, this gives Khruschev sole control of the Communist Party, inspiring him to comment:
We had some bad sheep in a good flock [but] we took them by the tail and threw them out.
One was sent to Outer Mongolia, one to a hydroelectric plant thousands of miles from Moscow, and one to a cement plant somewhere beyond the Urals.
July 8, 1957: George Ziatovsky, once of the OSS, is indicted with his wife Jane on charges of spying for the Soviet Union.
July 18, 1957: Playwright Arthur Miller is fined $500 for contempt of Congress. He refused to answer questions before a House Committee in 1956 involving Communist writers he had worked with a decade earlier.
August 1, 1957: At a meeting of the National Security Council, Allen Dulles says Indonesia’s Sukarno has “gone past the point of no return” and “would henceforth play the communist game.” John Foster Dulles throws his full weight behind a coup.
August 7, 1957: Soviet Counter-Intelligence Colonel Rudolph Abel is arrested in Brooklyn, where he has resided since 1948 under an alias. He’s indicted as a Soviet spy for conspiring to obtain and transmit national defense information to Moscow. The highest-ranking Soviet spy ever caught in the US, Abel is convicted on October 25 and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
August 26, 1957: Russia announces it has successfully tested an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile or ICBM, temporarily gaining the edge in “the missile race.” The first two ICBM tests by the US in 1957 are failures.
September 1957: At a White House meeting, President Eisenhower says he wants to promote the idea of an Islamic jihad against godless communism. ” We should do everything possible to stress the ‘holy war’ aspect,” he says. In response, John Foster Dulles proposes a “secret task force,” under whose auspices the CIA would deliver American guns, money, and intelligence to King Saud of Saudi Arabia, King Hussein of Jordan, President Camille Chamoun of Lebanon, and President Nuri Said of Iraq.
September 13, 1957: A committee led by officers of the CIA and the Pentagon urges the US to supply covert military and economic aid to army officers seeking power in Indonesia. But it also raises questions about the consequences of such action.
September 21, 1957: Air Force Captain George French is sentenced to life imprisonment for offering to sell secrets about atomic weapons in jet bombers to the USSR. His method is to drop a letter with his price ($27,500) onto the grounds of the Soviet Embassy in Washington DC. Unfortunately for French, an FBI agent intercepts the letter before it can be read by the Russians.
September 25, 1957: President Eisenhower orders the CIA to overthrow Indonesia. He sets out 3 missions:
- to provide “arms and other military aid” to “anti-Sukarno military commanders” throughout Indonesia.
- to “strengthen the determination, will, and cohesion” of the rebel army officers on the islands of Sumatra and Sulawesi.
- to support and “stimulate into action, singly or in unison, non- and anti-Communist elements” among political parties on the main island of Java.
U-2 planes fly over the archipelago and plot the delivery of arms and ammunition to the rebels by sea and air. It takes 3 months to plan the operation.
October 4, 1957: Sputnik — short for “fellow traveler of the earth” — is launched by the Soviet Union, becoming the first satellite to orbit the earth and sending America into a state of shock.
November 3, 1957: The 2nd Sputnik, much larger, is successfully launched. It carries a dog named Laika, who survives part of the adventure.
November 7, 1957: The annual Moscow Military Parade, held on the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution, disappoints observers. No ICBM or tactical atomic weapon is included in the parade of new weapons.
December 6, 1957: The first US attempt to put a satellite into space ends in disaster when the Vanguard rocket explodes on its launching pad at Cape Canaveral. The terms “Flopnik” and “Kaputnik” appeared in papers around the world the next day.
December 17, 1957: The first successful ICBM is launched in the US.
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Photograph by Edi Lucas