In January of 1961, President Eisenhower warned the nation of the union between the mushrooming arms industry and the Department of Defense. The military-industrial complex, as he put it, would imperil democracy and put the defense industry in the driver’s seat of the nation’s foreign and domestic policy. And now, Joe Biden, with his early foreign policy and defense picks, has made some choices that are emblematic of a conflict of interest-laden status quo for which there is no constituency (at least not one that isn’t on the payroll).
WestExec Advisors—a defense industry consulting firm poised to revolve several of its leaders into prominent cabinet positions in the Biden administration—is a dangerous manifestation of Eisenhower’s warning. Obama alums Michèle Flournoy and Antony Blinken founded the firm in 2017 and advertise their business as the road “from the Situation Room to the board room.” They bolstered their claims to insider access with other Obama administration hires like White House Communications Director Jen Psaki and Deputy National Security Adviser Avril Haines.
With these well-connected figures on staff, it’s plain what the firm means when it promises to bring “the full power of our network to bear in helping clients navigate rapidly emerging challenges and opportunities.”