Future Visions for U.S. Defense Policy

Four Alternatives Presented as Presidential Speeches

September 01, 2000

Report

Overview

Though threats to American security have changed dramatically in the last decade, U.S. defense policy and military forces look a lot like they did during the closing days of the Cold War. The new administration has promised to make significant changes to U.S. defense spending, yet no book, until now, has explored the options and implications of each approach.

Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress, Senior Fellow, Center for American Progress

Future Visions for U.S. Defense Policy, a revised and updated Council Policy Initiative (CPI), explores these alternatives to U.S. defense policy through four “presidential” speeches. The alternatives are the following: the present level of funding, which the Council CPI labels “a prudent defense,” allows the U.S. military to wage two major regional conflicts nearly simultaneously and to do some peacekeeping for about $300 billion per year; the “enhanced defense” option, which would increase defense spending to $330 billion per year and assure the United States that it can execute the two-war strategy by improving U.S. military capabilities across the board and relying on allies for peacekeeping missions; a “cooperative defense,” which emphasizes building ad hoc international coalitions and focusing U.S. military forces on the real threats to U.S. interests--“civil and ethnic violence”--allowing a 15 percent to 20 percent budget cut; and an “innovative defense,” which keeps spending at the current level but switches defense dollars to future technologies rather than maintaining the existing force structure and buying additional current-generation weapon systems.

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The case for a national missile defense is made in the enhanced defense option, the case against it in cooperative defense. This book is required reading for members of the Bush administration and anyone else concerned with America’s national security.

 

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