The Militarization of the Cold War
|Harry Truman issues an executive order in December 1950 proclaiming a state of national emergency. The President's decision to initiate the Korean "police action" without obtaining congressional approval played a key role in his declining political support once the war entered a stalemate.|
|Even once the US and USSR had entered into a
"Cold War," did that conflict necessarily have to become
"hot"--did military means have to become the key method for
waging the Cold War?
Unlike the origins of the Cold War, on the question of militarization, the dispute largely centers on the important event rather than the key motivation. Most conventional accounts point to the onset of the Korean War as the time when the Cold War became hot. But in the last decade-plus, two powerful monographs have challenged that view. In American Cold War Strategy, Ernest May suggests that the militarization of the Cold War was, in part, the classic example of bureaucratic politics in action, as Paul Nitze, director of the State Department's Policy Planning Staff, maneuvered his way through the upper reaches of the Truman administration to bring about the adoption of NSC 68, a more comprehensive national security document than virtually anyone in the administration deemed possible only 18 months before.
Meanwhile, in an important work of scholarship--in addition to a partial memoir of his time in office--former Harvard dean and National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy's Danger and Survival argued that the 1950 decision to develop the H-bomb--a weapon that had no conceivable military use--represented the key turning point in making military tactics the primary means through which US national security policy would be structured.