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In the Shadow of the Garrison State

In the Shadow of the Garrison State: America's Anti-Statism and Its Cold War Grand Strategy

Copyright Date: 2000
Pages: 416
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  • Book Info
    In the Shadow of the Garrison State
    Book Description:

    War--or the threat of war--usually strengthens states as governments tax, draft soldiers, exert control over industrial production, and dampen internal dissent in order to build military might. The United States, however, was founded on the suspicion of state power, a suspicion that continued to gird its institutional architecture and inform the sentiments of many of its politicians and citizens through the twentieth century. In this comprehensive rethinking of postwar political history, Aaron Friedberg convincingly argues that such anti-statist inclinations prevented Cold War anxieties from transforming the United States into the garrison state it might have become in their absence. Drawing on an array of primary and secondary sources, including newly available archival materials, Friedberg concludes that the "weakness" of the American state served as a profound source of national strength that allowed the United States to outperform and outlast its supremely centralized and statist rival: the Soviet Union.

    Friedberg's analysis of the U. S. government's approach to taxation, conscription, industrial planning, scientific research and development, and armaments manufacturing reveals that the American state did expand during the early Cold War period. But domestic constraints on its expansion--including those stemming from mean self-interest as well as those guided by a principled belief in the virtues of limiting federal power--protected economic vitality, technological superiority, and public support for Cold War activities. The strategic synthesis that emerged by the early 1960s was functional as well as stable, enabling the United States to deter, contain, and ultimately outlive the Soviet Union precisely because the American state did not limit unduly the political, personal, and economic freedom of its citizens.

    Political scientists, historians, and general readers interested in Cold War history will value this thoroughly researched volume. Friedberg's insightful scholarship will also inspire future policy by contributing to our understanding of how liberal democracy's inherent qualities nurture its survival and spread.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-4291-9
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-2)
    (pp. 3-8)

    What follows is a study of the interior dimension of American grand strategy during the Cold War. My goal is to explain the shape and size of the domestic mechanisms through which, over the course of nearly half a century, the United States created the implements of its vast military power.

    The argument that I intend to make can be briefly summarized: War, in Charles Tilly’s pithy phrase, “made” the modern state. As the technology of warfare evolved, the kingdoms and principalities that crowded the landscape of early modern Europe were forced to assemble larger and more capable militaries in...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Statism, Anti-Statism, and American Political Development
    (pp. 9-33)

    The political philosopher Leo Strauss once described the United States as “the only country in the world which was founded in explicit opposition to Machiavellian principles.”¹ Where Machiavelli advised rulers on how to gather up authority into their own hands, the architects of the American republic labored to create a regime in which it would be impossible for even the wiliest and most ambitious prince to achieve the dream of total power. The success of the Founders in this regard owes itself both to the basic structure of the governmental institutions they designed and to the content and continuing appeal...

  7. CHAPTER TWO The Cold War Founding
    (pp. 34-61)

    In the span of only two decades the United States was engulfed in three waves of crisis as depression, world war, and cold war followed each other in rapid succession. The onset of each emergency produced a powerful impetus toward state-building. To a degree, the effect of these sequential crises was undeniably cumulative. Institutions put in place to deal with one challenge were adapted to the next, and inhibitions to expansions in governmental power, once lowered, were never fully restored.

    It is often assumed that by the late 1940s, the combined effects of recurrent crises and of repeated assaults by...

  8. CHAPTER THREE The American Strategic Synthesis
    (pp. 62-80)

    In an influential 1947 survey of strategic issues,New York Timesmilitary correspondent Hanson Baldwin sought to sum up what he considered to be the essence of the problem confronting the United States. Despite the fond hopes of many in his country, it now seemed clear to Baldwin that the defeat of the Axis powers would not bring the dawning of a new age of perpetual peace. War was still a possibility, and thanks largely to the advance of technology, the next war would be truly “total”; it would demand an even fuller mobilization and a more efficient utilization of...

    (pp. 81-148)

    In retrospect, what is most remarkable about American defense budgets during the first fifteen years of the Cold War is not how big they were, but how small. Consider the circumstances: in the 1940s and 1950s the memory of the Second World War was still fresh and vivid, and the prospect of another global conflagration did not appear nearly as remote nor as unreal as it would subsequently come to seem. The nation’s top political and military leaders all had direct experience of supreme command, and, in striking contrast to their experience of the First World War, the American people...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Manpower
    (pp. 149-198)

    Of all the activities of the modern state, none is so immediate or dramatic in its impact on the lives of ordinary citizens as the extraction of manpower. When it compels young men to undertake military service, the state removes them from their homes and families (peaceably if possible, by force if necessary), subjects them to long periods of often brutal training, and sends them off to fight and, if need be, to die. More even than the power to tax, the power to conscript is truly the power to destroy. How, if at all, can its exercise be justified...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Supporting Industries
    (pp. 199-244)

    This is the story of a dog that did not bark. Following the close of the Second World War the federal government might have developed an approach for dealing with defense supporting industries that was highly centralized in institutional structure, broad in directive scope, and reliant on potent, intrusive policy instruments. The Cold War could have given rise to a single executive branch agency, charged with setting production targets in hundreds of supporting industries (from steel, to cement, to sulfuric acid) and possessed of the power to use direct subsidies, tax incentives, and protective tariffs, among other tools, to sculpt...

    (pp. 245-295)

    How, during the Cold War, did the American armed forces come to rely on private entities to design, develop, and build their weapons for them? The answer to this question is not nearly so obvious as it might appear to be at first glance.

    Paying private manufacturers to supply public agencies would certainly seem to be a characteristically American way of doing business. Yet prior to 1945, the U.S. military had always taken care to maintain a high degree of self-reliance. From the time of the Revolutionary War, the Army, with its system of arsenals, and the Navy, with its...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Technology
    (pp. 296-339)

    In an influential 1949 book, former wartime science czar Vannevar Bush asserted the existence of a connection between the fundamental character of a nation’s domestic political regime and its capacity for technological innovation. “The philosophy that men live by,” Bush claimed,

    determines the form in which their governments will be molded. Upon the form of their government depends their progress in utilizing the applications of science to raise their standards of living and in building their strength for possible war.¹

    The burden of this chapter is to make the case that Bush was right. As the next four sections will...

  14. CHAPTER NINE Conclusions
    (pp. 340-352)

    The arguments and evidence presented in the preceeding chapters can be briefly summarized:

    By the early 1960s the United States had forged a stable strategic synthesis, an outward-directed force posture and military strategy, and a supporting set of inward-directed power-creating mechanisms.

    The character of this synthesis was strongly shaped by anti-statist influences that were particularly potent during the opening stages of the Cold War, from the late 1940s to the closing years of the 1950s.

    Despite some relatively minor changes, the broad outlines of both the internal and the external aspects of U.S. policy would remain fixed for the remainder...

  15. INDEX
    (pp. 353-362)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 363-366)