Sitting On Bayonets?: the Soviet Defense Burden and Moscow's Economic Dilemma

Sitting On Bayonets?: the Soviet Defense Burden and Moscow's Economic Dilemma ABRAHAM S. BECKER (Santa Monica, Calif., U.S.A.) SITTING ON BA YONETS?: THE SOVIET DEFENSE BURDEN AND MOSCOW'S ECONOMIC DILEMMA Talleyrand is supposed to have told Napoleon, "You can do everything with bayonets, sire, except sit on them." Neither can they be eaten, of course, or clothe a family. But if the society sees the development of bayonet skills as its highest purpose, the provision of food, clothing, and shelter to the population will be slighted and the subordination will be justified by ideolo- gy. In most societies, however, military activities are not valued for them- selves, only for the security they provide to pursue other goals. This is the first condition under which military expenditure may be said to impose a bur- den on the society-that defense be seen as an instrument to unrelated ends. The second condition is that military activities use resources that would otherwise be employed in the civil economy, thereby reducing the potential level of other end uses of the national product. The existence of substantial unemployment and underutilized capacity (or the availibility of gifts from an external source) might permit an expansion in military production without sacrificing civilian output. The necessity for sacrifice http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Soviet and Post Soviet Review Brill

Sitting On Bayonets?: the Soviet Defense Burden and Moscow's Economic Dilemma

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Publisher
Brill
Copyright
© 1983 Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands
ISSN
1075-1262
eISSN
1876-3324
D.O.I.
10.1163/187633283X00135
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

ABRAHAM S. BECKER (Santa Monica, Calif., U.S.A.) SITTING ON BA YONETS?: THE SOVIET DEFENSE BURDEN AND MOSCOW'S ECONOMIC DILEMMA Talleyrand is supposed to have told Napoleon, "You can do everything with bayonets, sire, except sit on them." Neither can they be eaten, of course, or clothe a family. But if the society sees the development of bayonet skills as its highest purpose, the provision of food, clothing, and shelter to the population will be slighted and the subordination will be justified by ideolo- gy. In most societies, however, military activities are not valued for them- selves, only for the security they provide to pursue other goals. This is the first condition under which military expenditure may be said to impose a bur- den on the society-that defense be seen as an instrument to unrelated ends. The second condition is that military activities use resources that would otherwise be employed in the civil economy, thereby reducing the potential level of other end uses of the national product. The existence of substantial unemployment and underutilized capacity (or the availibility of gifts from an external source) might permit an expansion in military production without sacrificing civilian output. The necessity for sacrifice

Journal

The Soviet and Post Soviet ReviewBrill

Published: Jan 1, 1983

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