The arms race: Why was there an arms race?

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  • Created by: Jess
  • Created on: 09-04-13 13:42
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  • Why was there an arms race?
    • International tension
      • Soviet secrecy, coupled with Stalin & Khruschev's tactic of boasting about their nuclear capability, helped fuel concerns in America that they needed to keep ahead of the USSR.
      • The decision of the USA to develop the hydrogen bomb was prompted by the soviet challenge over Berlin in 1948-49, the Communist take over of China in 1949 & the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. This in turn led to a soviet response to develop its own super bomb.
      • Each power viewed the nuclear capacity of the other with anxiety & became convince that their nuclear superiority was the only way of guaranteeing their defensive needs.
    • National & personal considerations
      • This became increasingly important in the 1950s as each side tried to impress the so-called Third World with the supposed benefits of Capitalism or Communism.
      • Khrushchev took to boasting in order to cover his insecurities.
      • At the beginning of Eisenhower's presidency there was a fear of a 'bomber gap'; which led to the increase in American defence spending. Even when pictures from the U2 spy plane showed no such gap, it was difficult to reduce spending because of the fear of soviet superiority.
      • Kennedy's youth & inexperience made him feel vulnerable to Soviet manipulation, which led him to increase military spending. By 1962, military expenditure reached $50 bullion for the first time since the Korean War.
    • Domestic factors
      • In the USSR the armed forces were able to exert their influence within the Soviet government because defence needs were given such high priority. Any attempt to cut the amount of spending on arms, and therefore threaten the power of the military, was strongly resisted by Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, found out in 1964.
      • America's military-industrial complex was able to wield enormous control over American politics. The complex highlighted the danger posed by the Soviet Union.

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