World Arms Race

October 3, 1951

Report Outline
Accelerated Competition in Armaments
Foreign Relations and Military Policy
Failure of Efforts to Limit Armaments
Special Focus

Accelerated Competition in Armaments

Objective and Hazards of Western Rearmament

Debate in Congress on appropriations for the national military establishment and for foreign aid has underscored the massive scope of the rearmament program of the United States and its allies. It has likewise brought renewed expression of fears as to the final outcome of the arms race into which the western nations have been swept, seemingly without choice. And it has given occasion for fresh warnings of the probable economic consequences of attempting to carry for long the burden of arms expenditures on the current scale.

Communist military aggression in Korea produced a sharp change in the tempo and extent of western rearmament but as Secretary of State Acheson recently emphasized, “It was not Korea alone that was the reason for our defense effort.” The basic reason, he pointed out, lay in the “threatening proportions” of Soviet power and the unwillingness of the Kremlin “to work for a stable and peaceful world.” American policy, Acheson said, “seeks to block Soviet expansionism, without war, by building an effective system of collective security and by making it strong,” Until the free nations have “fully repaired their military weakness,” he maintained, “the danger of war and of disintegration will continue.”

Gen. Bradley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has stressed the point that the present rearmament program is designed primarily to meet long-range defense needs and not to provide military forces in being large enough to win a total war. But despite the limited nature of the objective, the sheer size of the effort required to achieve it gives the program an inevitably competitive character in the existing state of world affairs. Although few persons dispute the necessity of repairing the military weakness of the free nations, concern has been voiced lest this new arms race, like others before it, lead only to war.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jul. 29, 2016  Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal
Mar. 08, 2002  Weapons of Mass Destruction
Jan. 31, 1997  Chemical and Biological Weapons
Jun. 24, 1994  Nuclear Arms Cleanup
Jun. 05, 1992  Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 29, 1990  Obstacles to Bio-Chemical Disarmament
Apr. 22, 1988  The Military Build-Down in the 1990s
May 24, 1987  Euromissile Negotiations
Jul. 11, 1986  Chemical Weapons
Apr. 27, 1984  Reagan's Defense Buildup
Jun. 04, 1982  Civil Defense
Jul. 17, 1981  Controlling Nuclear Proliferation
Jun. 05, 1981  MX Missile Decision
Aug. 15, 1980  The Neutron Bomb and European Defense
Sep. 07, 1979  Atomic Secrecy
Mar. 17, 1978  Nuclear Proliferation
May 27, 1977  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1977  Politics of Strategic Arms Negotiations
Nov. 15, 1974  Nuclear Safeguards
Jul. 01, 1970  Nuclear Balance of Terror: 25 Years After Alamogordo
Jun. 18, 1969  Chemical–Biological Weaponry
Jun. 30, 1965  Atomic Proliferation
Mar. 21, 1962  Nuclear Testing Dilemmas
Aug. 16, 1961  Shelters and Survival
Oct. 12, 1959  Chemical-Biological Warfare
May 13, 1959  Nuclear Test Ban
Dec. 04, 1957  Scientific Cooperation and Atlantic Security
May 15, 1957  Changing Defense Concepts
Jul. 03, 1956  Civil Defense, 1956
Nov. 16, 1955  International Arms Deals
Oct. 04, 1954  Industrial Defense
Apr. 15, 1954  National Defense Strategy
Feb. 10, 1954  New Aproaches to Atomic Control
Oct. 10, 1953  Atomic Information
Apr. 11, 1952  Biological Warfare
Oct. 03, 1951  World Arms Race
Feb. 04, 1948  International Control of Atomic Energy
Dec. 06, 1946  International Inspection
Aug. 27, 1943  Gas Warfare
Jul. 24, 1937  The New Race in Armaments
May 05, 1932  Abolition of Aggressive Weapons
Arms Control and Disarmament
Defense Technology and Force Planning
U.S. at War: Cold War