The U.S. military has created tensions between the superpowers in order to maintain high levels of military spending, renowned economist John Kenneth Galbraith told an audience of nearly 150 people at a Humanist Association meeting last night.
The Warburg Professor of Economics Emeritus called on Americans to confront the military's attempt to fuel international tensions by supporting a freeze on the production and testing of nuclear weapons.
Americans must also urge their national leaders to stop competing for control of other countries, such as Nicaragua and Angola, Galbraith said. While Americans may be averse to the governments of the two countries, "It is not for us and the Russians to alter their fates," he said.
Galbraith was named "Humanist of the Year" last year by the National Association of Humanists--an association of those who say they reject all faith and endorse only those judgments which are made by the rational mind.
He called the military an "independent force" which is protected under a veil of patriotism. It is primarily an American misconception that the military is subject to the democratic process which accounts for it becoming so powerful that it could distort the international situation, Galbraith said.
The reason the American military emphasizes the Soviet threat is simply that it needs an adversary, Galbraith said. Military appropriations have historically responded to the presence of an external threat, thus "tension and hostility are created to serve the military purpose."
One method the military has used to fuel international tensions has been to make what is actually a nationalist struggle appear to be a Soviet threat, Galbraith said. He cited U.S. fears of Soviet involvement in Nicaragua as such an example.
In reality, he said, Nicaragua is trying "to get free of superpower control."
Galbraith called the nuclear arms control talks between the superpowers in Geneva merely a "charade" and a "cover for the greater expression of military power."