Beginnings of the Cold War Arms Race: The Truman Administration and the U.S. Arms Build-Up

By Raymond P. Ojserkis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

Reconsideration

THE BEGINNING OF THE ACHESON-JOHNSON CONFLICT OVER ARMS POLICY

In 1948, while Secretary of Defense James Forrestal was proposing increases in his department’s budget, Secretary of State George Marshall was agreeing with the president’s decision to hold the line on military spending. By the next year, there was a role reversal. The new secretary of defense would be launching a cost-cutting drive while the new secretary of state would be pushing for enormously greater funds for the U.S. armed forces.

Forrestal’s pleading for an arms build-up was ahead of its time and received little support. It is possible that this frustration, combined with an inability to prevent public bickering among the service chiefs and his fears that Truman was trying to oust him because of his disloyalty during the 1948 campaign, contributed to Forrestal’s sense of crisis. Forrestal suffered a series of mental breakdowns and was replaced (he offered his resignation on March 2, 1949) shortly before committing suicide.

Forrestal’s replacement was Louis Johnson, a World War I veteran, lawyer, and businessman from West Virginia, whose involvement with the Democratic Party had led to a position as assistant secretary of war from 1937 to 1940. He met Truman in the early 1930s during his work with the American Legion, of which Johnson had been a founder and a national president. Johnson had always been ambitious, going so far as to resign in 1940 when Roosevelt passed him over for the secretary of war post to appoint Henry Stimson. 1 Johnson became Truman’s finance chairman

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Beginnings of the Cold War Arms Race: The Truman Administration and the U.S. Arms Build-Up
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface and Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Demobilization 5
  • Chapter 2 - Consolidation 13
  • Chapter 3 - Reconsideration 47
  • Chapter 4 - Transformation 85
  • Chapter 5 - Globalization 107
  • Chapter 6 - Actualization 129
  • Conclusions 153
  • Bibliography 215
  • Index 231
  • About the Author 239
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