The Heritage Foundation, Then and Now
Has Heritage become so overrun with zealots on a mission that you can’t trust them on defense issues anymore?
Almost 30 years ago, in 1983, the Heritage Foundation stepped forward as a thoughtful, independent thinking participant in the then-raging debate over Ronald Reagan’s defense budget increases. In one of its major policy publications, Heritage published an insightful analysis with an unambiguous conclusion: “The increased spending secured by President Reagan should afford significant improvements in force size. It does not.” (See Agenda ‘83: A Mandate for Leadership Report, Richard N. Holwill, ed., The Heritage Foundation, 1983; see chapter 4, p. 69 of “Defense” by George W.S. Kuhn.)
The analysis was crammed with data and straightforward logic as it made the case for real reform in America’s overpriced, underperforming defense budget. But since then, Heritage has come a long way in defense policy analysis, all of it downward.
On December 26, 2012 the Director of Heritage’s Center for Foreign Policy Studies, Dr. James J. Carafano, published a commentary in the Washington Examiner, “What To Do about Obama’s Pound-Foolish Air Force.” Without saying so explicitly, he implied that the legendary Col. John R. Boyd, “a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot” in Dr. Carafano’s words, would favor what the good doctor wants: to reopen production of the $411 million F-22 and to buy more $154 million F-35s.
(Col. Boyd was much more than “a fighter pilot’s fighter pilot.” His revolutionary air-to-air tactics manual changed the way every major air force in the world flies. His brilliant energy-maneuverability approach to fighter design saved the F-15 from becoming a lumbering F-111-like disaster—and created the extraordinarily successful F-16. Read more about him in the Naval Institute Proceedings article Genghis John or better, in Robert Coram’s excellent biography Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War.)
Each of us knew and worked closely with John Boyd. Invoking Boyd’s legacy to endorse Carafano’s ideas about the F-22 and the F-35—ideas that would have been anathema to Boyd—profoundly offends us. Demonstrating ignorance about both John Boyd’s thinking and about fighter aircraft fundamentals, the Carafano article’s pervasive disregard for facts provides an excellent example of the ethical bankruptcy that lies at the core of our defense problems and our defense budget debate today. With this editorial by their Director for Foreign Policy Studies, Heritage signals a descent from serious analysis of the nation’s defense needs to contemptible gimmicks for pushing the big-spending agenda of the Foundation’s defense industry funders—specifically, in this case, pushing the agenda of Lockheed-Martin, manufacturer of the F-22 and F-35, and major contributor to Heritage .
H/T Abu Muquwama