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Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Speaking of National Defense

It has been nearly half a century since Dwight Eisenhower warned us about the military-industrial complex. Ike said,

This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every State house, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources and livelihood are all involved; so is the very structure of our society.


Today, toward the end of a New York Times story headlined, Contractors Are Warned: Cuts Coming for Weapons, we read,

"We're not going to have the flush years of past Pentagon budgets," said Daniel J. Murphy Jr., a former admiral and chief executive of Alliant Techsystems. "We are going to be cutting costs, even on cost-plus contracts. We will produce at cost-plus, but at a lower cost."

Mark H. Ronald, chief executive of BAE Systems, the British based military supplier, said that given the lack of growth in future Pentagon budgets, "the name of the game going forward is taking market share" from other military contractors....

Still, some military analysts remain skeptical. "Congress equates weapon systems with jobs and votes," Mr. Thompson said. "It's hard to convince them of anything that will lead to less jobs and fewer votes."


Here, it seems to me, is a good test of the presence or absence of real guts in those who claim to be our political leaders.


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