The “Military-Industrial Complex” and the Right

COMMENTARY Defense

The “Military-Industrial Complex” and the Right

Oct 12, 2023 1 min read
COMMENTARY BY
Kevin D. Roberts, PhD

President

Heritage Trustee since 2023
Heritage is committed to ensuring military readiness and advocating reforms to make the defense procurement process more nimble, lethal, and responsive to off-the-shelf technology. Glowimages / Getty Images

Key Takeaways

Mr. Stoll is wrong to group the Heritage Foundation with those attacking “the modern arsenal of democracy.”

America’s defense base hasn’t been a model of efficiency, so much as a conglomerate of corporations capable of navigating the Pentagon’s red tape.

We must both recognize the “imperative need” for the military-industrial complex and “not fail to comprehend its grave implications.”

Ira Stoll is right to point out that the private defense industry is vital to U.S. national security (“In Defense of the Defense Industry,” op-ed, Sept. 7). He’s certainly correct to admonish left-wing radicals for harassing professors and to call out financial giants for their anti-American ESG schemes.

Mr. Stoll is wrong, however, to group the Heritage Foundation with those attacking “the modern arsenal of democracy.” We decided to refuse funding from the defense industry, but that isn’t because we oppose American power like the left does. It’s because we want to offer clearsighted analysis to the U.S. military, which has limited resources and faces multiplying threats, without even the appearance of outside influence.

That starts with a sobering admission: Ever since the Clinton administration encouraged the defense industry to consolidate and cut spending, America’s defense base hasn’t been a model of efficiency, so much as a conglomerate of corporations capable of navigating the Pentagon’s red tape. For decades, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and others have used their bureaucratic prowess to sideline cutting-edge companies with better technology but worse connections, such as SpaceX, Palantir and Anduril.

Heritage is committed to ensuring military readiness and advocating reforms to make the defense procurement process more nimble, lethal, responsive to off-the-shelf technology and friendly to patriotic startups.

In doing so, we heed President Dwight Eisenhower, who warned Americans in his farewell address that we must both recognize the “imperative need” for the military-industrial complex and “not fail to comprehend its grave implications.”

This piece originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal

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