How We Got Ourselves into a Tech War 11 result was that after World War II, many of the lessons learned in developing technologies to wage the war and decisions made at the end of the war set the conditions for the global political, economic, military, and societal arrange- ments that came to defi ne the post–World War II era and propelled the United States to unprecedented wealth and unrivaled military capacity. Global institutions established in the postwar period set the conditions for the science and technology (S&T) ecosystem, including an international rules-based system of norms, standards, regulations, and agreements that promoted key advancements in research and development (R&D). The United Nations was established for “maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress, better living standards and human rights.” 4 The Bretton Woods Agreement established a new global monetary system, the International Monetary Fund (IMF). And the United States emerged from the war as the world’s only nuclear power with most of its national power intact. In fact, by all measures of national power, the United States emerged from World War II as a global leader, and scientifi c and technological leadership was no exception. The seeds of continued scientifi c and technological leadership were set toward the end of the war. President Franklin Roosevelt charged his science advisor, Vannevar Bush, with examining ways to shape the postwar period S&T enterprise. The response back was titled Science—The Endless Frontier . The document served as the strategic underpinnings, perhaps even a road map, for U.S. dominance in S&T over the past seventy-plus years. The docu- ment identifi ed priorities for sharing the benefi ts of scientifi c knowledge to stimulate new enterprises, aiding future scientifi c research through estab- lishment of complementary public and private organizations, establishing a program to aid in the war against disease, and effectively discovering and developing scientifi c talent. 5 Bush’s response, along with the 1957 Sputnik surprise, which resulted from the Soviet Union launching the fi rst satellite, 6 set the conditions for global leadership in R&D ever since. The U.S. R&D enterprise dwarfed the efforts of the rest of the world and provided great advantages to our nation and the American people. The result has been the growth of a nation with approximately one-quarter of the global gross domestic product 7 and mili- tary spending that exceeds the spending of the next seven nations com- bined. 8 In short, with the end of the Cold War and the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union, the United States became the world’s “hyperpower.” This U.S. R&D enterprise, 9 which dominated the Cold War and into the post–Cold War era, produced game-changing technologies fueled by govern- ment, industry, and academic laboratories. R&D centers became the front lines with scientists, technology developers, engineers, and mathematicians as the foot soldiers in this tech war.
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