By Bryan Caplan
If you look at the issue through an international relations lens, or
through a focus on US domestic politics, you’ll get a different
picture. The main political tendency inclined to overestimate Soviet
economy performance was Cold War hawks who spent much of the
sixties, all of the seventies, and some of the eighties warning that
America was at risk of becoming the “number two” country in the world.
A minority of the hawks, like Senator Scoop Jackson, also had left-wing
views about economic policy, but the majority were inclined to
My first response is: In economics, optimism about the Soviet economy suggests that we should be more like the Soviets (i.e., use more central planning) – a left-wing position. But in international relations, optimism about the Soviet economy suggests that we should be more against the Soviets (i.e., increase military spending and aggressiveness) – a right-wing position. Is this right? Or am I missing something? Or is Matt wrong on the facts? Was the neocon position really, “The Soviet economy is big and strong,” or just “The Red Army is big and strong”?