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Michael Stoff, Director 305 East 23rd St, CLA 2.102, (G3600) Austin, TX 78712-1250 • 512-471-1442

Fall 2003

T C 325 • Topics in the Arts and Sciences: American Technology and Victory in the Cold War

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
40600 TTh
4:00 PM-5:30 PM
WRW 401E

Course Description

A good case can be made that one of the vital factors in bringing about the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the communist ideal on which it was based, was the consistent superiority of American technology for the forty-six year duration of the "cold war". It is the purpose of this course to examine this proposition. Many of these technologies had their origin during World War II when they were developed on a "crash" basis because of exigencies of the war. The institutions that were built during the war to do these technology developments were converted to new work of a military nature that turned out to be important during the "cold war." A number of examples of American technology developments will be presented and the effect that they had on Soviet-American relations will be evaluated. One of the first was the Berlin Airlift which broke the Soviet blockade of the city in 1949. We astonished the Soviets with our technological capability to supply a city of three million people with aircraft alone. It was the first "peaceful victory" in the "cold war." Next was the use of U-2 aircraft to gather credible information about the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba. The high resolution U-2 pictures permitted President Kennedy to persuade a skeptical public that the Soviets were indeed doing just that. The development of the technology for defense against ballistic missiles was another important element. President Reagan's refusal to trade away the work on missile defense at the Reikjavik summit meeting with President Gorbachev in 1986 was one of the critical turning points in U.S.-Soviet relations during the "cold war." The meeting persuaded Gorbachev that we were serious, and some believe he lost his nerve at that point. The continuing work on cryptology and other information systems were also a decisive element in winning the "cold war." This work was an extension of what was started in World War II and profoundly influenced computer development. Perhaps even more important, the unclassified work on information technology, transistor radios, Xerox machines, FAX machines, and VCR technology made it impossible for the Soviets to operate the closed society that the communist philosophy demanded.

About the professor: Hans Mark is professor of aerospace engineering and engineering mechanics at UT - Austin. He has been associated with the University's Institute for Advanced Technology since it was founded in 1990. President Clinton appointed Dr. Mark to serve as Director of Defense Research and EU. Dr. Mark was Chancellor of the UT System from 1984 to 1992. Until 1984, he was the Deputy Administrator of NASA, having been appointed by President Reagan in 1981. In 1977, President Carter named Dr. Mark to be the Undersecretary of the Air Force and Director of the National Reconnaissance Office. In 1979 he was named Secretary of the Air Force, serving until 1981. Dr. Mark is the author or co-author of more that 200 scholarly articles and numerous books

Grading Policy

The course consists of twenty lecture sessions, five video presentations, and two examination sessions. There will be a midterm examination, a final examination, and a required term paper. The student's grade will be determined by the performance on these assignments. The course is intended for honors undergraduate students in the Colleges of Liberal Arts, Natural Sciences, and first year graduate students in the LBJ School. Qualified students in other university units might also be interested in the subject matter and would be welcome to attend.


A course packet containing exerpts from (but not limited to): The Defense Revolution: Strategy for a Brave New World, Kenneth Adelman and Norman Augustinne Deep Black: Space Espionage and National Security, William Burrows Perestoika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, Mikhail Gorbachev The Best and The Brightest, Max Hastings And more


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