Dubious Inferences from Shaky PremisesnJames Fallows: National Defense; RandomnHouse; New York.nby Samuel T. FrandsnAristotle held that a rhetorician mustnbase his arguments on the preconceptionsnof his audience. James Fallows’snarguments against reliance on sophisticatednand expensive military technologynappear to follow this precept. So certainnis Fallows that the majority of his readersnshare his mistrust of the military, contemptnfor bureaucracy and hostility tonthe defense industry that he is able tonbuild on these preconceptions withoutnever fully substantiating them. Needlessnto say, he is fond of exposing the contradictionnof conservatives who criticize welfarenexpenditures as wasteful and fraudulentnbut who fail to criticize the DefensenDepartment for the same vice. There is,nof course, no contradiction: conservativesnbelieve that public spending for nationalnsecurity is legitimate and necessary butnthat such spending is both illegitimatenand unnecessary (indeed, harmful) fornsocial engineering. To be sure. Fallowsndoes recount many instances of wastefulndefense spending on weapons and systemsnthat have not worked well. In somencases he is correct, and in other casesnwrong. In the former category much ofnwhat he is correct about was known previouslyn(since Fallows has no professionalnmilitary experience and has never been andefense expert or a DOD employee,nalmost everything in his book is secondhand).nIn the latter category Fallows appearsnto follow much of the hard-left linenon strategic weapons and concepts.nFallows’s ostensible posiuon is that ofnan educated layman who is honestlynseeking a concrete resolution to the highlynideological and politicized debate onnnational defense expendimres and pol-nSamuel T. Francis is legislative assistantnfor national security to Senator John P.nEast of North Carolina.n3()inChronicles of Calturenicies. This approach might be helpful ifnhis concept of national defense werenclear. Since at no point in the book isnthere any discussion of likely or possiblenenemies of the United States and no attentionnto Soviet foreign-policy aims ornmilitary capacities to carry them out, it isnimpossible to evaluate his criticisms ofndefense policy, even if we assume themnto be factually correct.nFallows argues that a “culture of procurement,n” by which the military professionalsnand their industrial sugar daddiesnconcertedly seek to escalate the costs andnprofits of defense, has replaced the honestnattempt to provide effective weapons,npolicies and institutions. There is muchntruth to this charge, and everyone knowsnand its lessons for policy, and undertakenreform. Yet, given his grim portrait ofnthe self-serving bureaucrats who dominatendefense-policy decisions and legislation,nis reform a realistic approach?nDoes he or anyone else believe that it isnpolitically possible to forbid ex-generalsnto take jobs with defense contractors?nWould not the same entrenched elementsnthat prevent reform and effectivenmanagement elsewhere in the Pentagonnand industrial establishments subvert orncircumscribe this measure, which directlynthreatens their interests, as well? Fallowsndoes not consider how this reform mightnaffect the quality of military leadership,nnor does he discuss what material incentivesnmight persuade officers to enter orn”I wish everyone who knows the alphabet would read James Fallows’s ‘National Defense’n. . . It isn’t necessarily that Mr. Fallows is correct in what he says (though I happennto think that he is); it’s just that he has pitched an emotional subject on such annunusually commonsensical level.”n—New York Timesnit. It is inherent in the very nature ofnbureaucracies, whether military or not,nto serve their own interests and to behavenaccording to estabhshed routine. Thenoperation of this law of bureaucracy innthe American defense establishment hasnbeen intensified by the fact that not sincenWorld War II has defense policy beennguided by men with high-level combatnexperience. In lieu of such experience it isnlogical to expect that defense policymakingnwould become an armchair professionnfor technicians, engineers andnmanagement experts. In a somewhatnSwiftian mood one might argue that thenobvious solution to this problem wouldnbe for the United States to go to war andnat once acquire the combat experiencenneeded to correct the airy cerebrations ofnthe eggheads. As undesirable as thisnsolution may sound, it may in fact be thenonly one that is practical. Fallows suggestsnthat we simply hunker down, cerebratensome more about the realities ofncombat (about which he knows nothing)nnnto stay in the military with such a prohibition.nJLlespite the core of truth in his portraitnof the “culture of procurement” andnthe tendency of polidcians to debate defensenon the grounds of “more vs. less”ninstead of “better vs. worse,” Fallows,nbecause of his lack of military professionalism,ncommits egregious blunders. Hensneers at the Army for insisting that certainnweapons developed in the 1960’s benable to endure both Arctic and Saharannconditions, despite the fact that theynwere used primarily in Vietnam. Thenpoint is that the United States has troopsnand commitments all over the world,nand the weapons it develops must benadaptable to combat conditions in differentnclimates. To develop a weaponnthat functions efficiently in a tropical environmentnbut not in an Arctic onenwould expose the U.S. armed forces to anserious vulnerability. If the Chinese hadnlaunched an invasion of South Korea, orn