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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program, Annual Report 1997-1998

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Annual rept.

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Blame it on democracy and capitalism. Democracy gives us responsive government. Capitalism gives us consumerism. Both combine to give us a large middle class and a culture that emphasizes individualism. Continue to follow the arrows as the great balding sage would tell us because they lead to the explanations for Americas victory in the Cold War, its certain unwillingness to police the world, its likely withdrawal from Europe, and the approaching dismantling of its super professional military. Eugene Gholz, Allen Kaufman and I have written a wonderful but strangely as yet unpublished paper on how American won the Cold War. Although the paper argues quite convincingly that the war was won be- cause America mastered a set of institutional relationships civilmilitary, militarymilitary, militaryindustry, and militaryscience and technology that effectively mobilized the resources needed for the 45 year long and ever more technological struggle with the Soviets, I would admit, and I am sure my collaborators would too that the mobilization was constrained by the popular preference for consumption over taxes, the need to avoid bankrupting the economy and the government. No doubt the ability of Americans to field technologically advanced forces while enjoying the consumer benefits of a middle class life cars, appliances, a house in the suburbs, and gourmet coffee wore down the Soviet will to resist and hastened the collapse of the Evil Empire. We had our cake and could eat it as well. This affluence, without the military prowess, spread to most of Europe and parts of Asia with our protection and assistance. Gradually their societies have become more democratic and more capitalistic, making their citizens more like ours e.g. addicted to celebrities, hypocritically claiming to be devout environmentalists while continuing to buy power mowers, somewhat overweight, unwilling to have their children serve in the military.

Subject Categories:

  • Administration and Management
  • Government and Political Science
  • Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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