The end of the cold war has caused socioeconomic dislocations as Pentagon suppliers adapt to new realities. Here, Gregory (former editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology) not only presents a savvy appreciation of defense-budget cutbacks and their implications but also offers some uncommonly sensible suggestions for remedial action. In his wide-ranging, anecdotal audit, Gregory assesses the hard choices facing aerospace and allied contractors as the US military slashes procurement by 50% or more in the years ahead. Thanks to the USSR's breakup, he points out, arms demand is diminishing abroad as well as on the home front—and many sizable enterprises may not survive. As the author makes clear, moreover, the world has become an increasingly competitive place, one in which electronic technology in general and semiconductor devices in particular constitute a bloodless battleground in the struggle for commercial advantage. In addition to the problems created by the ongoing loss of high-paid jobs, Gregory addresses the issue of how to make productive use of the high-tech resources and skilled manpower that the electorate seems reluctant to support with tax dollars. While he stops well short of advocating adoption of an industrial policy, the author approvingly notes the emergence of government-nurtured consortiums at the state and regional levels. He also remarks on the greater degree of collaboration evident in Western Europe and the Pacific Basin, and he concludes that laissez-faire is a viable policy only to the extent that Washington has a plan to intervene if it fails to deliver. Better yet, he contends, would be a comprehensive technoindustrial program to ensure that American companies capitalize expeditiously and fully on the breakthroughs they are good at making, if not applying. A timely, accessible wake-up call for policy-makers—and those who put them in office.
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