As a general rule I might begin with Thomas Sowell’s three questions:
Compared to what?
At what cost?
Do you have any hard evidence?
I think this sums up the three points Sterling made and can be used generically to start to deal with most claims.
I find any example of technological advancement through the military dubious. For one any useful technologies are brought about by competition with a foreign military. And to reiterate Sterlings example from Bastiat we don’t see what was frittered away on pet ideas.