Of Equal Interest The Cult of Muscovy

Soviet Premiere Nikita Krushchev Reflects on the Nuclear Arms Race, 1970.

From "Krushchev Remembers" by Nikita Krushchev. Copyright 1970 by Little, Brown and Company (Inc)

Even Honest people who want to avoid the use of atomic and hydrogen weapons can't ignore the question of how many such arms are available to us in case a global war should break out. That's why we must decide realistically on priorities for allocation of funds.

When I was the leader of the Party and the Government, I decided we had to economize drastically in the building of homes, the construction of communal services, and even the development of agriculture in order to build up our defenses. I even suspended the construction of subways in Kiev, Baku, and Tblisi so that we could redirect those funds into strengthening our defenses and attack forces. We also built fewer athletic stadiums, swimming pools, and cultural facilities. I think I was right to concentrate on military spending, even at the expense of all but the most essential investments in other areas. If I hadn't put such a high priority
on our military needs, we couldn't have survived. I devoted all of my strength to the rearmanment of the Soviet Union. It was a challenging and important stage of our lives...

Our potential enemy--our principle, our most powerful, our most
dangerous enemy--was so far away from us that we couldn't have reached him with our airforce. Only by building up a nuclear missile force could we keep the enemy from unleashing war against us. As life has already confirmed, if we had given the West a chance, war would have been declared while Dulles was alive. But we were the first to launch rockets in space; we exploded the most powerful nuclear devices; we accomplished these feats first, ahead of the United States, England, France and of course, inside the Bonn [West German] government. They knew they had lost their chance to strike at us with impunity.

Now that it is the size of our nuclear missile arsenal and not the
size of army that counts, I think our army should be reduced to an
absolute minimum. There's no question in my mind that we have reached a stage where that's possible When I led the Government and had final authority over our military allocations, our theoriticians calculated that we had nuclear capacity to grind our enemies into dust, and since that time our nuclear capacity has greatly intensified. During my leadership we accumulated enough weapons to destroy the principle cities of the United States, not to mention our potential enemies in Europe..

I have always been against war, but, at the same time I've always
realized full well that the fear of nuclear war in a country's leader can paralyze that country's defenses. And if a country's defenses are paralyzed, then war is really inevitable: the enemy is sure to sense your fright and try to take advantage of it...

However, we must also keep in mind the true character of all
imperialists, capitalists, monopolists, and militarists who are interested in making money out of the political tension between nations. We must make sure we don't allow allow ourselves to get involved in a lot of senseless competition with the West over military spending. If we try to compete with America in any of the most essential areas of military preparedness, we will be doing two harmful things. First we will be further enriching wealthy aggressive capitalist circles in the United States who use our own
military buildup as a pretext for overloading their own country's arms budget. Second we will be exhausting our material resources without raising the living standards of our people. We must remember that the fewer people we have in the army, the more people we will have for more productive kinds of work. This realization would be a common point of departure for the progessive forces of the world in their search for
peacefull coexistence. If one side were to curtail its accumulation of military means, it would be easier for the other side to the same. We must be prepared to strike back against our enemy, but we must also ask, "Where there is an end to this spiraling competition?"

I know from experience that the leaders of the armed forces can be
very persistent in claiming their share when it comes time to allocate funds. Every commander has all sorts of very convincing arguments why he should get more than anyone else. Unfortunately there is a tendency for people who run the armed forces to be greedy and self--seeking. They're always ready to throw in your face the slogan "If you try to economize on
the country's defenses today, you will pay in blood when war breaks out tommorrow." I am not denying that these men have a huge responsibility, and I am not impugning their moral qualities. But the fact remains that the living standard of the country suffers when the budget is overloaded with allocations to unproductive branches of consumption. And today as yesterday, the most unproductive expenditures are all of those made on the
armed forces. That's why I think that military leaders can't be reminded too often that it is government which must allocate funds, and it is government which must decide how much the armed forces can spend.

Apparently the control of military spending is a universal
problem. I remember a conversation I once had with President Eisenhower when I was guest at his dacha at Camp David [in September 1959]. we went for talks together and had some useful informal talks. During one of those talks, he asked, "Tell me, Mr. Krushchev, how did you decide the question of funds for military expenses?" Then before I had a chance to say anything, he said, "Perhaps first I should tell you how it is with us."

"Well how is it with you?"

He smiled, and I smiled back at him. I had a feeling what he was
going to say. "Its like this. My military leaders come to me and say, 'Mr. President, we need such and such a sum for such and such a program.' I say, 'Sorry we don't have the funds.' They say, 'We have reliable information that the Soviet Union has already allocated funds for their own such program. Therefore if we dont get the funds we need, we will fall behind the Soviet Union.' So I give in. That's how they wring money out of me. They keep grabbing for more and I keep giving it to them. Now tell me,
how is it with you?"

"It's just the same. Some people from our military department come and say, 'Comrade Krushchev, look at this! The Americans are developing such and such a system. We could develop the same system, but it would cost such and such' I tell them there's no money; its been alloted already. So they say, 'If we don't get the money we need and if there's a war, then the enemy will have superiority over us.' So we discuss it some more, and I end up giving them the money they ask for." "Yes" he said, "that's what I thought. You know, we really should come to some sort of an agreement in order to stop this fruitless, really wasteful rivalry."

"I'd like to do that. Part of my reason for coming here was to see if
some sort of an agreement would come out of these meetings and

But we coudn't agree then, and we can't agree now. I don't know.
Maybe it's impossible to agree.



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