Bezos says ‘country in trouble’ if big tech turns its back on the Pentagon

Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive officer of Inc., listens during an Economic Club of Washington discussion in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2018.

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SIMI VALLEY, Calif. — Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos gave a dismal outlook for the nation if U.S. tech companies decide to not support the Pentagon’s war business.

“If big tech is going to turn their backs on the Department of Defense, this country is in trouble, that just can’t happen,” Bezos said at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California.

“Look I understand these are emotional issues, that’s okay, we don’t have to agree on everything, but this is how we are going to do it, we are going to support the Department of Defense. This country is important,” he added.

As Silicon Valley courts a closer relationship with the Pentagon, tech firms have faced backlash for pursuing lucrative Defense Department contracts.

Last year, Google announced that it was working with the U.S. military to analyze drone videos by using artificial intelligence.

The controversial contract, dubbed Project Maven, caused thousands of employees to protest the initiative.

In the wake of the firestorm, Google decided to not renew the contract upon its expiry in March 2019.

Loosely referencing the sequence of events in the wake of Google’s Project Maven, Bezos said that tech firms should support the U.S. military’s efforts.

“I know it’s complicated but you know, do you want a strong national defense or don’t you? I think you do. So we have to support that,” he said.

“We are the good guys, I really do believe that,” Bezos said.

Bezos’ comments come on the heels of Amazon’s decision to contest the Pentagon’s cloud-computing contract awarded to Microsoft.

Read more: Amazon cites ‘unmistakable bias’ in Microsoft’s military cloud contract win

The Pentagon said Oct. 25 that Microsoft had won the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud contract, which could span 10 years and be worth up to $10 billion.

“Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified,” Amazon told CNBC in an email.

Trump often criticizes Amazon and Bezos, who also owns The Washington Post.

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