Global Defense Business Raises Security Questions
THE weapons business is becoming more and more global.
This trend has profound implications for United States security policy, according to a new study by Defense Budget Project, a Washington think tank. The report, written by Richard Bitzinger, lists five major ways globalization affects the US military posture:
* It raises the likelihood that US opponents will be more technologically advanced. There is a continuing proliferation of conventional arms, military systems technologies, and other know-how pertaining to defense production and systems integration. A general preoccupation with sales of weapons to sustain jobs at domestic arms plants has caused many observers to overlook the spread of an in-creasingly internationalized defense industry.
``Such international collaboration, involving the permanent transfer of resources, skills, and technology that underlie armaments production is potentially more destabilizing than outright arms sales,'' Mr. Bitzinger argues. ``These capabilities, once transferred, cannot be cut off or recovered.''
* The shift may lead to the progressive erosion of the US military's technological advantange. The US may end up having to increase military spending and defense research and development to maintain its advantage.
* Globalization may facilitate the development of weapons of mass destruction. For example, collaboration of two nations on missiles or long-range aircraft systems could reduce both the time and the costs involved in developing nuclear capability.
* The US itself could face a growing reliance on international arms cooperation and international subcontracting of armament parts. This, Bitzinger maintains, could lead to a dependency on foreign sourcing for critical military programs, creating unacceptable vulnerabilities.
* Internationalization of the defense industry could affect civilian economic development. Since military technology can sometimes be utilized in such nondefense industries as commercial aircraft and electronics, the trend could lead to the development of new foreign competitors for these industries.
The study employed a data base of more than 600 licensed production arrangements, major coproduction and codevelopment programs, and inter-firm activities on major weapon systems initiated since the 1960s.