Saturday, March 08, 2008

Threat Inflation

Book Review, Arsenals of Folly: The Making of the Nuclear Arms Race

"Threat inflation," Rhodes writes,

was crucial to maintaining the defense budgets of the Cold War.... Fear was part of the program, the psychological response to threat inflation that delivered reliable votes.

The cold war arms race was not, he argues, a natural condition of the US–Soviet rivalry. Those who claimed to act out of patriotism perpetuated the waste of billions of US tax dollars, squandered the possibility of achieving lasting nuclear security, and weakened America's global standing.

The $5.5 trillion spent on nuclear weapons—"enough to buy everything in the United States except for the land," noted Carl Sagan—was money not invested in domestic needs. Rhodes writes:

Far from victory in the Cold War, the superpower nuclear-arms race and the corresponding militarization of the American economy gave us ramshackle cities, broken bridges, failing schools, entrenched poverty, impeded life expectancy, and a menacing and secretive national-security state.

No comments: