Unguided Missiles: How America Buys Its Weapons

Fen Hampson, Author W. W. Norton & Company $19.95 (370p) ISBN 978-0-393-02628-3
To explain how the weapons-procurement system works, Hampson ( Securing Europe's Future ) presents a number of case histories (including the Trident submarine, the MX, the cruise missile, the B-1 bomber, the Abrams tank), tracing the ``life cycle'' of each through budgeting, programming, research and development. Even the most controversial weapons systems usually end up in production, having assumed ``uncontrollable lives of their own'' and costing the taxpayer more than they should, he notes. This very useful book explains why. Written for the general reader, it brings into clear relief the complex relationship between weapons procurement and the forces of technology, service parochialism, the arms race, military strategy and arms control. More significantly, it reveals that weapons acquisition depends as much on political compromise as on superpower parity, military doctrine or even plain logic. In a cogent section at the end, Hampson, professor of international relations at Carleton University in Ottawa, discusses ways of strengthening congressional oversight and achieving tighter control over the defense budget. Illustrations. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/30/1989
Release date: 05/01/1989
Paperback - 382 pages - 978-0-393-30641-5
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