Critical Documents: Defense

A Defense Budget at the Crossroads
Jonathan Masters, Council on Foreign Relations

A recent decrease in the U.S. defense budget, as recommended by the Pentagon, has been evaluated as both practical and dangerous. Although financing is protected for the Navy, Air Force, and special operations forces; the total active army will shrink and various bases will be closed. The implication is that “U.S. forces will no longer be sized to conduct large-scale, prolonged stability operations.”

The (Almost) Triumph of Offshore Balancing
Christopher Layne, The National Interest

The reduced budget in the recently introduced Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG) represents the plan to end global superiority, which the U.S. has maintained for sixty years. This is necessary due to the economic condition of the U.S. and the emergence of a “multipolar international system.” Offshore balancing is the new U.S. military strategy, emphasizing strategic involvement, burden sharing, an avoidance of nation-building, and a reduction of Islamic fundamentalist hatred.

Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy
Barry R. Posen, Foreign Affairs

Posen argues that “the United State’s undisciplined, expensive, and bloody grand strategy has done untold harm to U.S. national security.” The pursuit of international democracy has done more harm than good, and has only hurt the U.S. economy. The U.S. should move towards a policy that focuses on preserving limited national security interests.

Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement
Stephen G. Brooks, G. John Ikenberry, and William C. Wohlforth; Foreign Affairs

Active U.S. participation in global politics has ensured economic and political security, preventing conflict and uncertainty. Decreasing involvement at this point would certainly threaten international security and eventually be worse for the country.

Cyber-warfare: Hype and Fear
The Economist

Although the imperative threat of another conventional terrorist attack has lessened, cyber-security is now a primary concern. Major fears include the use of cyber resources in physical warfare, strategic cyber-war, cyber-espionage, cyber-disruption and cyber-terrorism. It is difficult to track sources of cyber combat, and the U.S. is struggling to stay on top of cyber-security intelligence and principles.