Taipei (Taiwan), Havana (Cuba), and Isfahan (Iran) illustrate the diverse ways in which military assistance and concerns associated with weapons acquisition contributed to an on-going reorganization of the location and distribution of various urban activities as well as to a contestation between global and local aspects of urbanization.
The idea of globalization was brand new. Prior to the 1970s and 1980s, the emphasis had been on the international economy.
In the international economy, goods and services are traded across national boundaries by individuals and firms from different countries, and the trade is closely regulated by sovereign nation states.
In the global economy, goods and services are produced and marketed by an oligopolistic web of global corporate networks whose operations span national boundaries but are only loosely regulated by nation states.
Whichever term is used — global or international — each refers to measurable flows of goods, services, and capital across national boundaries. These flows often became conflated over the course of the Cold War.
For some, there is (and was) no separation of national security and economic interests.
For example, there are those in the United States who believe that military and defense interests in the Cold War cannot be separated from those of capitalism in general.
It seems reasonable, though, to conclude that the military often acted as an independent player, dispersing funds, personnel, and technology as part of a competition for prestige and influence in the less developed world, at least during the early years of the Cold War.
In fact, Giddens argues that “No matter how great their economic power, industrial corporations are not military organizations ….”
He goes on to say that
… it is surely plain to all, save those under the sway of historical materialism, that the material involvements of nation-states are not governed purely by economic considerations, real or perceived. The influence of any particular state within the global political order is strongly conditioned by the level of its wealth (and the connection between this and military strength) … states … do not operate as economic machines, but as ‘actors’ jealous of their territorial rights, concerned with the fostering of national cultures, and having strategic geopolitical involvements with other states or alliances of states.
Lots of questions pop up as a result of Giddens’ thinking.
How much did Cold War competition affect the growth and development of Third World Cities?
What is the relationship between the allocation of superpower defense associated resources in the 1950s and 1960s, urbanization, and the move from internationalization to globalization?
What is the lasting impact of the US-Soviet rivalry on Third World cities?
Did American support influence her client states to transition to democracy and a capitalist free market economy?
Did the Soviet Union leave a lasting imprint on her client cities despite her own disintegration?
Do the consequences of Cold War militarism have any implications for cities in areas of the less developed world increasingly impacted by indiscriminate arms transfers and continuing militaristic activity? (What about Baghdad, Kabul, and Isfahan, for example?)
Militarism has been called the last modern institution. However, at least as far as urban planning in the Muslim World is concerned
the impact of military spending on the patterns of settlement, on the regional and urban economies, on occupational structure, and on urban spatial patterns is yet to be studied … [even though] military spending continues to have a significant influence in the development prospects of a number of cities and regions.
The presumption has been that global flows rooted in economic forces have come to underpin the contemporary world system.
But — we have neglected the likelihood that many of the ‘scapes’ associated with global flow can trace their beginnings to the transfer of capital, personnel, and technology associated with national security aspects of the Cold War conflict.
The question for us now is “how.”
During the Cold War specifically, how did the flow of weaponry and military assistance become intertwined with the industrialization of war in the urban arena?