May 19, 2014
Bensahel (II): Her critique falls short on the technological future of the military
Source: Foreign Policy: Best Defense
Journalist Tom Ricks
I really like Nora Bensahel's critique of the U.S. military's inadequate thinking about the future. But the one part I found myself disagreeing with strongly was her plan for "Ensuring U.S. Technological Superiority," which seemed to me overly pessimistic about our technological future and also misdirected. It struck me as rooted in the industrial approach used in the Cold War, which was an anomaly in American defense history.
"Maintaining technological superiority over potential adversaries has been a cornerstone of U.S. defense strategy since the end of World War II," she states. Yes, it is true that in the two decades after that war, the U.S. government devoted enormous amounts of money to developing long-range bombers and missiles, nuclear-powered submarines, satellites, and computers, as well as the hydrogen bomb. The spending had huge effects on the civilian economy, leading to the long-range Boeing 707 jet airliner and virtually creating the computer industry.