Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts How Much is Enough? Matching Ends with Means at the Pentagon

How Much is Enough? Matching Ends with Means at the Pentagon

War on the Rocks

Assessing the growing gap between U.S. fiscal solvency and defense resources is something of a pastime for budget nerds. Numerous think tanks and policy analysts continue to argue, even after six years of budget sequestration, that Washington has not aligned its ambitions with the nation’s wallet. Former Secretary of State George Shultz is one amongst many former policy makers concluding that U.S. defense spending levels are low and inadequate. Kori Schake of the International Institute for Strategic Studies assesses U.S. defense as overcommitted and underfunded. Despite the fact that U.S. defense spending is again declining relative to economic potential, and that total security spending is declining as a share of federal budget, many still think that it’s too high. Some of these voices argue that giving the Pentagon more money does not improve U.S. security. Chris Preble from the Cato Institute argues that increased defense spending makes America less prosperous. Who is right? Ever since RAND program analysts Alain Enthoven and K. Wayne Smith wrote their famous book, How Much is Enough?, this has been the perennial question.

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