Military—Industrial Complexities

  • Lawrence Freedman
Part of the Studies in International Security book series (SIS)


The strategic debates of the 1970s within the United States were as passionate as any that had gone before. After some delay, a challenge was mounted to the concepts developed during the McNamara period, in particular the notion of mutual assured destruction. Although an impressive critique was developed, attempts to create a compelling alternative were less successful. As confidence that a nuclear war could and would be fought in a specific way waned, the argument came to be heard that it was necessary to prepare to fight in almost any way. As uncertainty grew as to what dimension of military power created the desired deterrent effect on the Soviet Union, it was argued that imposing strength must be demonstrated on every dimension.


Assure Triad Phen 
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  1. 3.
    Richard L. Garwin and Hans Bethe, ‘Anti-ballistic missile systems’, Scientific American (March 1968). Reprinted in York (ed.), Arms control, p. 164.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Abram Chayes, Jerome Wiesner, George Rathjens, and Steven Weinberg, ‘An Overview’, in Abram Chayes and Jerome Wiesner (ed.), ABM: An Evaluation of the Decision to Deploy an Anti-Ballistic Missile System (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), pp. 58–9. This was the key anti-ABM document.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    ‘It is my contention that with minor exceptions, the United States has led in the development of military technology and weapons production throughout the Cold War. . . . This . . . has placed the United States in a position of being fundamentally responsible for every major escalation of the arms race’. Edgar Bottome, The Balance of Terror: A Guide to the Arms Race (Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), pp. xv–xvi.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    George Rathjens, The dynamics of the arms race’, Scientific American (April 1969). Reprinted in York (ed.). Arms Control, p. 187.Google Scholar
  5. 7.
    Quoted in Nancy Lipton and Leonard Rodberg, ‘The missile race: the contest with ourselves’, in Leonard Rodberg and Derek Shearer, The Pentagon Watchers (New York: Doubleday & Co., 1970), p. 303.Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Herbert York, ‘Military technology and national security’, in Scientific American (August 1969) reprinted in York (ed.), Arms Control, p. 198. York developed his views in Race to Oblivion.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    F. A. Long, ‘Arms control from the perspective of the nineteen-seventies’; Harvey Brooks, The military innovation system and the qualitative arms race’; John Steinbruner and Barry Carter, ‘Organizational and political dimensions of the strategic posture: the problems of reform’, in Daedalus, CIV:3 (Summer 1975).Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Graham T. Allison and Frederic A. Morris, ‘Exploring the determinants of military weapons’, in ibid. The force of this point was diminished by the acknowledgment of boundaries, within which the level of forces, defence budgets, and specific weapons must fall, determined by some ‘minimum set of widely shared values (eg a secure second–strike capability)’. The quality of the analysis suffered by failing to ask where these ‘values’ came from, but the interest lay in the fact that the essence of an assured destruction capability could be taken so easily for granted, beyond internal debate, a part of the general consensus.Google Scholar
  9. 12.
    Some of the better works of this genre are: Ralph Lapp, The Weapons Culture (New York: W. W. Norton, 1968);Google Scholar
  10. Adam Yarmolinsky, The Military Establishment (New York: Harper & Row, 1971); andGoogle Scholar
  11. Richard Kaufman, The War Profiteers (New York: Doubleday, 1972). To gain the flavour of the 1969 fervour on this matter and the general strategic views of the critics, see the report of a conference organised by The Progressive magazine involving Congressmen and a sundry collection of critics. Published as Erwin Knoll and Judith Nies McFadden (eds.), American Militarism 1970 (New York: The Viking Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    For example, Sam Sarkesian (ed.), The Military-Industrial Complex: A Reassessment (Beverly Hills, Sage Publications: 1972).Google Scholar
  13. 14.
    The best of the studies is Ted Greenwood, Making the MIRV: A Study in Defense Decision-Making (Cambridge, Mass: Ballinger, 1975).Google Scholar
  14. 17.
    Henry Kissinger, The White House Years (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1979), pp. 202–3.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    Quoted in Desmond Ball, Déjà Vu: The Return to Counterforce in the Nixon Administration (California: Seminar on Arms Control and Foreign Policy, 1974), p. 8.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    Richard M. Nixon, United States Foreign Policy for the 1970s: Building the Peace (25 February 1971), pp. 53–4.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    Melvin Laird, A House Divided: America’s Security Gap (New York: Henry Regnery, 1962). When questioned about this book when he was appointed Secretary of Defense he said it had been written at a time of confrontation that had now passed.Google Scholar
  18. 22.
    Hearing before the Subcommittee on Arms Control, International Law and Organization of Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US-USSR Strategic Policies (Washington DC, USGPO, March 1974), p. 25. He also suggested that in his position statement there had been a switch away ‘from what I will call the canonical logic of the triad’. There is little substantive evidence of this switch.Google Scholar

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© The International Institute for Strategic Studies 1983

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  • Lawrence Freedman

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