Butter and Guns: America's Cold War Economic Diplomacy

Diane B. Kunz, Author Free Press $30 (432p) ISBN 978-0-684-82795-7
Kunz, an assistant professor of history at Yale, demonstrates that the long-term perceived threat posed by the Soviet Union legitimated government intervention in the U.S. domestic economy. Furthermore, she contends, that intervention provided both a good life for most Americans and the basis of national security, as the defense industry promoted long-term economic growth that nurtured decades of material prosperity and social stability. Economic diplomacy was the core of a foreign policy that linked participants in the Western economic order while binding them to a U.S. that was able and willing to assume the primary responsibilities of leadership because, for the first time in the country's experience, events abroad directly affected these shores. American economic dominance of the Western sphere, Kunz explains, depended on a non-zero-sum approach facilitating development without creating an overt client system. On the other hand, command economies on the Leninist model proved spectacularly unable to provide both butter and guns-a failure that sentenced them to oblivion. Meanwhile, far from creating ""imperial overstretch"" along the lines described by Paul Kennedy, the national security state created by the Cold War, Kunz says, provided prosperity at home and peace abroad. She argues provocatively that the subsequent decoupling of foreign and domestic policy is combining with free-market triumphalism to weaken the synergies that generated affluence and security. One need not accept her argument to appreciate this as a clear and well-researched analysis of a revolutionary period in U.S. history. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/30/1996
Release date: 01/01/1997
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