Hot Potato: Food for Thought
Where Did All the Money Go?
The Arms Race
1997 July 09

Arms contractors are now located in most congressional district in the US, and few representatives dare to vote for significant cuts in defense spending. The peace dividend anticipated in the wake of the collapse of the USSR failed to materialize. Armed forces remain at nearly their cold-war size, and defense expenditures remain high.

Russia and the US are dismantling nuclear weapons and delivery systems. The US can reasonably expect peace in a unified Europe which is now larger than the US. Europe is rich enough to look after its own defense. If reliance on Persian Gulf oil can be reduced, major conflict in the next decade or two seems unlikely.

The US could again adopt the military spending policy applied between the wars. America was kept in a reasonable state of readiness despite very low expenditures. The strategy was simple: develop new plane, ship, and tank designs and build a few examples for testing. Production increased quickly when war broke out, and a small cadre of experienced military men was enough to rapidly train a huge army.

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