Responding to Defense Dependence: Policy Ideas and the American Defense Industrial Base

By Erik R. Pages | Go to book overview

3
Ideas and the American Defense Industrial Base

The previous chapter presented a summary of approaches to understanding government responses to defense dependence. We concluded that U.S. DIB policies could not be explained adequately without reference to the impact of policy ideas and their evolution over time. In this chapter, we review the initial acceptance and subsequent consolidation of these ideas. We also examine their enduring influence in restricting government efforts to act more resolutely to consider relative gains in its DIB policies.

We then turn to an examination of how these ideas became transformed during the 1980s, leading to policy shifts that have gradually transformed U.S. DIB policies. As concerns over defense dependence grew, traditional policy ideas came under attack. The development of new economic models for understanding the industrial base contributed to a search for new policies toward the DIB. These new models helped expand the range of "legitimate" policy alternatives available to U.S. leaders and helped directly contribute to the creation of Sematech and the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences.

But intellectual change did not transform policy toward all threatened industries. In a number of cases, policymakers rejected the lessons of the new models and instead continued their support for a more traditional policy line. This continuity resulted from analyses that questioned the true "criticality" of industries deemed as essential for national security by their supporters.


IDEAS AND THE DEFENSE INDUSTRIAL BASE

Ideas about the DIB are tightly linked with a larger set of ideas about the appropriate role for government in managing the economy at home and abroad. In the

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