New Weapons, Old Politics: America's Military Procurement Muddle

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New Weapons, Old Politics: America's Military Procurement Muddle

By Thomas L. McNaugher
Brookings, 1989
251 pp.

Criticizing weapons procurement by comparison to private enterprise is wrong-headed, for the system "has been shaped by a sustained and necessary interaction with the political system"; indeed, that interaction is responsible for the system's most controversial features, some of which "even protect the public interest." This terse history, a pleasure to read, argues for shifting investment away from production toward research and development. It only begins to help the reader think about the politics of reform, but it does begin. For instance, extending competition through R&D would give politicians a choice between two weapons, not merely between nothing and something (usually something with subcontracts spread through every relevant congressman's district).

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