Friedrich Hayek, Cold Warrior

My occasional series on F.A. Hayek last fall drew exclusively from his economic books, especially The Constitution of Liberty.  But cleaning up some old files today I came across a 1983 interview with Hayek in Encounter magazine where he displayed that he was not only a dedicated Cold Warrior, but understood the logic of deterrence and completely approved of President Reagan’s peace-through-strength strategy:

Question:  Isn’t high arms expenditure also a factor [in the U.S. budget deficit]?

Hayek: I am convinced Reagan is right not to reduce arms expenditure.  World peace depends upon America staying strong.  We already have so many atomic weapons that a nuclear war would mean the end of civilization: so the discussion as to whether arms increases intensify the threat of war is nonsense.  In fact it’s no longer a question of whether nuclear war can be avoided or not; the real problem is whether we have got ourselves into a situation in which the Soviets can intimidate us to such an extent that we knuckle under completely.  We can’t afford that kind of weakness.  Ergo, the West must stay at least as strong as the Soviet Union.  It is a complete delusion—not, I think, necessarily a malicious one but to some extent Communist-inspired—when they try to make us believe that the arms increases needed to achieve a balance increase the threat of nuclear war.  Instead it becomes less.  I don’t believe any Russian is daft enough to start a nuclear war.  But if ever the Soviets are in a position to intimidate us with military superiority, they won’t hesitate to do whatever they want.

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