Defense Addiction: Can America Kick the Habit?

Defense Addiction: Can America Kick the Habit?

Defense Addiction: Can America Kick the Habit?

Defense Addiction: Can America Kick the Habit?

Synopsis

Whatever happened to the post- Cold War "peace dividend?" Why does military spending continue to escape federal budget reductions? Why, despite the nearly universal desire to reduce government waste and budget deficits, is the United States still saddled with a costly, bloated military-industrial complex? The answer, says Sanford Gottlieb, is a debilitating dependence of a key sector of the American economy on defense jobs and profits. Based on hundreds of interviews with defense contractors, union representatives, members of Congress, state and federal officials, lobbyists, economic development professionals, and local activists, Defense Addiction explains how these groups and individuals cope with defense dependence, competition for federal funds, and budget and job cuts- painting a sobering picture of how this addiction hampers the nation's ability to deal effectively with a host of domestic and global problems. Providing guidance to companies and communities struggling to break free in the face of inadequate government policies, Gottlieb's engaging and jargon-free volume points to civilian public investments, reduced military spending, strengthened international peacekeeping, and other measures that could help our country kick the habit.

Excerpt

Back in the 1950s and '60s, American schoolchildren practiced "duck and cover" drills to prepare for the Soviet H-bomb attacks people felt sure were coming. Today, the fearsome prospect of Soviet-American nuclear war has evaporated. the Cold War is over, a development that should have ushered in a future of peace and promise.

That didn't happen.

Bloody civil wars have multiplied around the globe, and the international community has responded fitfully at best. the financially exhausted countries of the former Soviet Union, having squandered their resources on the long and losing confrontation with the West, are beset with ethnic tensions, inflation, organized crime, and all the problems of revolutionary change. No "new world order" has been built to cope with international violence.

Although the United States emerged as the sole remaining superpower, it, too, suffered the effects of nearly a half-century of Cold War. the financial costs were huge. the $4 trillion ($12.8 trillion in 1995 dollars) in military spending between 1947 and 1990 contributed mightily to the budget deficits of the 1990s. These deficits in turn constrain the government's ability to help solve deep-rooted, painful domestic problems.

Yet money was not the only cost of the Cold War. Secrecy exacted a toll on our democratic institutions. "Secrecy," observed Gregory Foster, a professor at the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, "is the most lasting, visible and destructive feature of the Cold War ethos. . . . Obsessive secrecy has had the unintended effects of disguising government abuse, obscuring accountability, and engendering public distrust, fear, alienation and apathy."

For years, a substantial slice of military and intelligence spending, the "black budget," has been concealed even from members of Con-

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