Khrushchev and the Arms Race: Soviet Interests in Arms Control and Disarmament, 1954-1964

By Lincoln P. Bloomfield; Walter C. Clemens Jr. et al. | Go to book overview

7
The Economic Burden of the Arms Race

Moscow's interest in arms control, it was argued in Part I, derived little direct impetus from economic considerations between 1954 and 1956. The Kremlin seems rather to have made excessively rosy calculations about the future rate of Soviet economic growth and the savings possible through reliance on advanced military technology instead of conventional forces and massive inputs of personnel. From 1956 to 1962 the grounds of this optimism faded, one after another, presenting Moscow by 1961 or 1962 with strong economic incentives to reduce military spending, either directly by East- West agreement or indirectly as a by-product of international détente.

The decisive year marking a turning point in the Soviet economy's ability to sustain the arms race appears to have been 1958. From Stalin's death until 1958 the economic burden imposed by defense generally fell, as defense expenditures stabilized or declined and economic growth continued at a rapid rate. After 1956-1957, however, Soviet defense

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