For Might and Right

Cold War Defense Spending and the Remaking of American Democracy

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Michael Brenes

How did the global Cold War influence American politics at home? For Might and Right traces the story of how Cold War defense spending remade participatory politics, producing a powerful and dynamic political coalition that reached across party lines. This “Cold War coalition” favored massive defense spending over social welfare programs, bringing together a diverse array of actors from across the nation, including defense workers, community boosters, military contractors, current and retired members of the armed services, activists, and politicians. Faced with neoliberal austerity and uncertainty surrounding America’s foreign policy after the 1960s, increased military spending became a bipartisan solution to create jobs and stimulate economic growth, even in the absence of national security threats.

Using a rich array of archival sources, Michael Brenes draws important connections between inequality and American militarism that enhance our understanding of the Cold War’s continued impact on American democracy and the resilience of the military-industrial complex, up to the age of Donald Trump.

Cover design by Frank Gutbrod
Cover photo by Wendy Hallmark, Night falls at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility, Bremerton, Washington, as work continues on USS Ohio (SSGN 726). Ohio is one of four Trident submarines undergoing conversion to a new class of guided missile submarines. March 15, 2004.—United States Navy




Chapter One
Where the Global Meets the Parochial

Chapter Two
The National Politics of International Stability

Chapter Three
Vietnam and Antimilitarism in the 1960s

Chapter Four
The Cold War Returns

Chapter Five
War and Peace in the “Age of Inequality”