DISMANTLING THE COLD WAR ECONOMY by Ann Markusen

DISMANTLING THE COLD WAR ECONOMY

KIRKUS REVIEW

 This worthy successor to Seymour Melman's exposÇs of military dominance of the American economy names the central, driving segment of the military-industrial complex--the ``Aerospace, Communications, Electronics (ACE) Complex''--as the distorter and drainer of our economy for the last 50 years, and calls for a new economic order to restore our economic health. Markusen and Yudken (both Economics/Rutgers) present ample evidence of the depredations of a national industrial policy that strengthened military-oriented sectors of the economy while cordoning off and weakening the rest. They show that, although theoretically opposed to traditional American beliefs in business self-sufficiency, this policy targeted ACE as a ``growth leader,'' paid for its R&D efforts, built its manufacturing plants, encouraged industrywide collaboration, monitored and shaped competition within the industries, guaranteed government markets for their products, set protective trade policies, and provided adjustment assistance for firms and workers when facilities were opened and closed--all this in the name of national defense. Markusen and Yudken demonstrate that the resulting ``wall of separation'' between the military and civilian economies bred ``defense dependency'' among corporations that never had to compete with foreigners, while free-trade policies debilitated nonmilitary industries. To boost this claim, Markusen cites her research documenting the growth of the ``Gunbelt''--a patchwork of defense- dependent communities that consistently support militaristic policies out of economic self-interest. After reviewing previous analyses and challenging ``competitiveness'' as a new version of the arms race, Markusen and Yudken call for a national economic-development strategy to build up environmental, health, and community stability. Unlike their well-documented, organized, and compelling analysis, though, their broad prescription lacks confidence-building details.

Pub Date: March 19th, 1992
ISBN: 0-465-00662-0
Page count: 336pp
Publisher: Basic
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1992