During the cold war, Defense Intelligence Agency artists painted pictures of Soviet missiles and helicopters to build support for defense spending. That program is gone, but the paintings remain at a Smithsonian museum.
Back when superpower summits were the most important dates on a president’s calendar and arms control was debated as fiercely as health-care reform is today, one of the US military’s best cold-war weapons might have been painting.
That’s right – brushes, palettes, easels, the whole Picasso thing. But the artists in question weren’t producing “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.” They were depicting missiles.
From 1981 to 1991, the Pentagon published a glossy booklet titled “Soviet Military Power.” This yearly assessment of the USSR’s might had its critics, who thought it exaggerated the size of Kremlin arsenals and the effectiveness of Soviet forces.