Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Whither "Cold War Careers"?

Shortly after World War II until the present many jobs and careers developed around the evolution of the Cold War. Perhaps best termed "Cold War careers," these are especially evident among thousands of jobs in such U.S. government organizations as the Department of Defense, the United States Information Agency, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, and the Agency for International Development.

These agencies, in turn, have been responsible for generating a huge number of defense, intelligence, and development careers and millions of jobs among government contractors and consultants who primarily depend on government contracts for their existence.

The future of many international jobs and careers are in danger with the ending of the Cold War attendant with the disintegration of the Soviet Union and Eastern European communist regimes and as economic development becomes the major goal of most societies in the decade ahead.

Indeed, the assumptions underlying much of U.S. foreign policy are no longer valid given the collapse of the communist world. Major cutbacks will take place in defense spending, and foreign aid will be reallocated according to new priorities. Defense cutbacks will have a major impact on both Department of Defense hiring levels and the number of defense contractors and consulting firms involved in the department's procurement process.

In the early months of 1990, for example, defense contracting had declined by 40 percent and the Department of Defense decided to cutback 40,000 procurement employees. The Department had definitely entered a period of major uncertainty about the future direction of defense policy. The impact of ending the Cold War appeared to be irreversible for the so-called "military-industrial complex" that had played a central role in shaping foreign and defense policies during the post-World War II period.

Many "Cold War careers" should adjust easily to the post-Cold War period of the 1990s. The Agency for International Development (USAID) and its relevant contractors and consultants, for example, whose Cold War purpose has been to strengthen non-communist regimes through development efforts, will begin shifting budgetary priorities into Eastern Europe and Central America.

Indeed, during the 1980s USAID moved millions of dollars into nongovernmental organizations operating in Poland. USAID will most likely expand its scope of operations throughout Eastern Europe as well as possibly in the new states of the former Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laossome of which are now accepting the presence of U.S. Peace Corps Volunteers. On the other hand, careers in defense intelligence and military hardware and technology will undergo major changes rather than adjust well to the changing international environment. (Read this before or Continue Reading)