The Cold War: Militarism

Figure 1.--The mandatory school-based Young Pioneer movement had a rangeof military activities. Here we see a scene from a Pioneer summer camp. The press caption read, "Pioneering Games: According to an oficial Soviet source, 'Zarnitas' is a popular gane which now involves about 16 million school, children known as Pioneers. Here, two youths race each other in one of the events in the third final of the game. They are dismantling and reassembling guns." The photograph is dated August 13, 1969.

A Cold War issue was militarism. This is acomplicated issue to discuss becuse there are varied definitions of militarism. And there are noy just different ways of describing milittarism, but real substantive diiferences. We have noted three basic definitions: 1) Glorification of the ideals of a professional military class, 2) Predominance of the armed forces in the administration or policy of the state, and 3) A policy in which military preparedness is of primary importance to a state. The third definition is the most limited version of type of militarism. And it avoids a very key element--justification. At times making military preparadness a primary state objectibe is justified. France and Britain failed to do so in the 1930s and as a result almost lost their national existence as well as the destruction of Western civilzation. Militarism was an issue throughout the 20th century. In World War I it was German militarism. In World War II it was Fascism that glorified the military, but the Fascists (Italian Fascists and NAZIs kept their militaries under control. It was the Japanese military that seized control of the country. Militarism became a factor in the Cold War. Stalin tightly controlled the military, even conducting deadly purges (1930s). Nothing like this occured during the Cold War. But a dangerous dynamic developed. The military bought into Soviet propaganda and viewed the Americans like the NAZI and became cocerned about a possible Ameican first strike. This affected their reporting to the state authorities. The Soviet miltary's VRYAN computer program could have given eroneous warnings (1979). This led to one of the most dangerous points of the Cold War. The NATO exercise Able Archer was preceived as cover for a first strike (1983). The weak Soviet economy also forced the Soviets to militarize society. A huge portion of the economy was devoted to the economy, a much larger portion than the American economy as it was so mmuch larger and more productive. We notice what look like cadet programs on the pevious page. We also ee military programs in the schools and Pioneer summer camps (figue 1). . Soviet Propaganda heavily pursued the charge of America militarism. And the left-wing groups in America also pursued this narrative. Picking up on Pesident Eisenhower's concern about a military-indutrial complex. Huge anounts were devoted to mmikitary spending which became the largest item in the national budget. Those unconcerned about the Soviet threat saw it as wasteful. Those who saw the Soviets to be athreat saw dense spending as absolutely essential. NATO Allies, especilally West Germany were also, accused of miiitarism. This reached a fever pitch when America and Britain responded to the Soviet SS-20 Saber escalation with the Pershing II. This was a stretch, but the Ban the Bomb movermnt generated enormous support. Charges of NATO ally militaism was a stretch. America's NATO allies severely limited military spending. Only the British maintained a majpr military establishment. The United States basically financed Europe's defense.


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Created: 8:25 AM 4/10/2019
Last updated: 8:26 AM 4/10/2019