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In Defense of the Defense Industry. WTF!

Talk about being FOS! Protect us? When was the last time the US won a war? Hold on, I'm thinking. Grenada? Oh, I have the answer, Korea in the 50s!

Our military-industrial complex currently spends $1 trillion per fricken year and not only do we habitually get our ass kicked, we make life worse for the poor SOBs that we claim we're trying to help. Vietnam, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan...just getting started here.

So go f-ck yourslef Ira! I'd have more respect for the miserable pricks running our defense industry if they weren't the largest lobby for both parties and would stop influencing our legislatures to engage all over the globe in cluster f-ck after cluster f-ck.

In Defense of the Defense Industry

Populists of the right and left attack U.S. companies that make weapons. Who do they think protects us?

By Ira Stoll, WSJ

Sept. 6, 2023 4:58 pm ET

Protesters disrupted a class at the Harvard John F. Kennedy School of Government in October 2022 because the professor, Meghan O’Sullivan, was also a director of defense contractor Raytheon. The school’s dean sent out a message denouncing the demonstration as “aggressive and physically intimidating.” The note didn’t, however, address Ms. O’Sullivan’s service on the Raytheon board, a stint that soon concluded. The company’s 2023 proxy statement attributed her decision to step down to “increased outside demands on her time.”

I worked at the Kennedy School at the time of the demonstration. The chants against “warmongers, imperialists and Zionists” distracted me briefly, but I dismissed the intrusion with a shrug and an eye roll, a reflexive response to irrelevant Cambridge, Mass., radicalism. In retrospect, the episode deserves more attention. It seems less like an outlier and more like a harbinger of a troubling ideological trend. The attacks on the modern arsenal of democracy are spreading from Harvard Square to Wall Street and Washington.

In the Aug. 23 Republican presidential debate, Vivek Ramaswamy replied to a rebuke from Nikki Haley by saying, “I wish you well in your future career on the boards of Lockheed and Raytheon.” Mr. Ramaswamy intended it as an insult, which is how Ms. Haley interpreted it.

The next day, an article by Rob Bluey, the Heritage Foundation’s vice president of communications, revealed that the conservative think tank had decided “to refuse funding from the defense industry.” Heritage president Kevin Roberts had been pressed about taking money from the defense industry in a February 2023 interview with the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Mr. Bluey assured me that the Heritage decision was made before the February interview and wasn’t a response to pressure from any outside group. He said the “decision to decline funding from some industries—including defense and Big Tech” had been made “to protect our ability to provide independent analysis without even the perception of influence.”

Meantime, Democrats in blue states are introducing legislation that would require state pension funds to divest from companies involved in producing nuclear weapons. In Rhode Island, a bill would force state pension funds to eliminate investments even in non-nuclear defense contractors.

In the private sector, financial giants like BlackRock and Vanguard are offering ESG—environmental, social and governance—funds that avoid fossil fuels and tobacco stocks and also spurn producers of conventional military weapons. Vanguard even offers a fund that excludes the stocks of companies that “provide non-weapons related tailor-made products and/or services related to the military or defense industry.” That could include suppliers of meals ready-to-eat, manufacturers of shoe soles for dress uniforms, even advertising agencies that work on troop-recruitment commercials that air during the Super Bowl. Fund managers are allocating hundreds of billions of dollars using these principles, though many investors who choose to put their money in ESG funds are probably more concerned about the environment than they are with disarming the U.S. military.

The dream of dismantling the military-industrial complex goes all the way back to the biblical prophecy of Isaiah and Micah that “they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.” Both prophets were talking about some future messianic era, not offering immediately actionable policy advice. More-contemporary religious figures have been less crisp about that distinction. “The uncontrolled proliferation of arms facilitate [sic] many outbreaks of violence and erode secure peace,” a 2022 Vatican document contended. Thus, industries which thrive on the production of these instruments of war and destruction engage in a reprehensible business.”

Opposing today’s defense industry offers critics a chance to oppose war and capitalism. “When missiles fly, people die, O’Sullivan’s profits multiply,” the protesters at Harvard chanted. Alas, few voices today are rising to defend military preparedness or the profit motive, let alone the combination of the two.

I’ll try: The weapons industry protects America and its allies, keeping us safe from ruthless enemies who would otherwise exterminate or enslave us.

Raytheon helps make weapons systems that defend Israeli civilians against attacks from Iran-backed terrorist groups. These include the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, SkyHunter interceptor systems and Tamir missiles. Raytheon also produces the Javelin antitank missile that Ukraine has used against Russian armor and the early-warning radars that would detect incoming missiles aimed at the U.S.

In defense as in other domains, the incentives of capitalism reward excellence and spur innovation. Plenty of technologies initially developed for military use have spun off productive peacetime applications—radar, jet engines, the internet, cellphones, sport-utility vehicles and khakis, to name only a few.

The Kennedy School’s namesake made a more poignant case for the arms industry in a June 9, 1940, letter to the Harvard Crimson. “The failure to build up her armaments has not saved England from a war, and may cost her one,” John F. Kennedy wrote as the Nazis were sweeping through France. “Are we in America to let that lesson go unlearned?”

Mr. Stoll is editor of and author of “JFK, Conservative.”

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