When a Defense Budget Meant “Money Is No Object” – 1957 – Past Daily Reference Room

Defense in 1957
Defense in 1957 – When the Fear Factor loomed large, and The Red Menace was everywhere.

Defense Budget 1957 – Do Defense Cuts Endanger Our Security? – The American Forum – August 4, 1957 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –

Our National Defense in 1957. Here we were, knee-deep in the Cold War, strangled by doomsday scenarios – you couldn’t read so much as a comic book without having some aspect of the Cold War and the dreaded takeover of American values by the godless Commies, who were everywhere.

No – we needed defense, and a lot of it. But how much did we really need? And were there parts which could be cut, so as to relieve the crushing tax debt and the drain on our resources, just for the sole purpose of protecting our borders?

As President Eisenhower so eloquently warned in his Farewell address upon leaving office in 1961 – we had turned our society into the Military-Industrial Complex – and nowhere was it more apparent than the 1950s.

On this episode of The American Forum, Democratic Representative George H. Mahon (Tx) and Republican Representative Hugh Scott (Penn.) discuss our changing needs as the country could no longer depend on conventional weapons alone for defense. They were overshadowed by nuclear weapons and missiles and jet aircraft. In short, it was no longer looking like your dad’s war – it was something new and potentially, pretty frightening. But all this new technology and all the sophistication that went with this new weaponry added a huge price tag and added tax burden to the average American. The question was whether we could reduce our annual budget and still feel adequately defended in doing so? Would defense cuts leave gaping holes in our security?

With the Cold War at fever pitch, and fear of a nuclear war looming large in the daily life of America, the question of defense was very real – and potentially overstated. But at the time we didn’t know that. All we knew was, we were vulnerable and despite appearances to the contrary, we led nervous, unsettled lives – and the days of Space Travel and all those things of Science Fiction we read about in comic books and saw in movies were turning out to be true – so why wouldn’t the possibility of being obliterated in a nuclear war be true as well?

Nervous times and fearful solutions. Here is that discussion over our National Defense, as it was broadcast on August 4, 1957.

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