Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Response to Luke Johnson Financial Times article, "Merchants of death display mixed virtues"


The article by Luke Johnson "Merchants of death display mixed values" (Financial Times newspaper, Wednesday July 23rd 2008) suggests that greater R&D spin-offs are possible if only funds devoted to defence were given to the civil sector. This aspiration seems to miss two points. Firstly that for four decades analysts have identified greater MOD R&D spending in military projects as being essential, but never achieved - thereby reducing the likelihood of civil spin-offs. Although US DOD research budgets are due to fall for the first time over the next four year period, the prodigious expenditures of the last decades will continue to ensure spin-offs.
Second, considering the the span of history it is often conflict or fear of conflict which drives technological advancement - for example drugs such as penicillin, internet, mobile communications and satellite navigation as a few conflict or fear of conflict driven inventions. No doubt the technological breakthroughs would have been made without threat of war, but when may well have been at a significantly later date.

Jeffrey Bradford
Managing Director, CMI

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