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Deficits, Debt, and U.S. Global Engagement: Maintaining National Security While Lowering the Debt July 22, 2010

Posted by Gordon Adams in Analysis, Briefing.
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Stimson Brief: Deficits, Debt, and U.S. Global Engagement

Budget Insight features briefing papers and analyses that go well beyond that of a typical blog post.

This Stimson Brief is written by Gordon Adams and is available in its entirety here.

Other Budget Insight analyses on the impact of deficits and debt on foreign affairs and defense spending include:


In an op-ed published in Politico, Gordon Adams and Matthew Leatherman argue that the FY2011 defense appropriations markups and the pending war supplemental request offer an important opportunity for Congress to begin the process of disciplining defense missions and budgets.

Gordon Adams testified before the Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.  In his testimony, Dr. Adams warns of the looming tidal wave of deficit reduction, debt control, and changes in our international role which makes it increasingly urgent for the Congress to reexamine our defense budgets and defense priorities.

Secretary Gates and Disciple at DOD- Dr. Gordon Adams warns  that historic levels of deficits and US debt and the departure of the US military from Iraq and Afghanistan will pull the rug out from under public support for what has been an undisciplined military budget.

Disciplining defense while supporting the troops- Dr. Gordon Adams and Matt Leatherman explain that lower defense spending does not mean reducing support for the troops and can in fact increase national security.

The Long Term Debt Threat: Virginia Woolf Syndrome- Rebecca Williams and Matt Leatherman describe the long-term, unsustainable path of U.S. federal spending and its affects on the defense and international affairs budgets.

Adams weighs in on the QDR- Dr. Gordon Adams offers his critiques of the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), arguing that the QDR layers new missions on top of preexisting ones, does not prioritize missions and objectives, and as a result, does not provide a true defense strategy.

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Comments»

1. Pentagon Faces Intensifying Pressures to Trim Budget | Interest of the State - July 23, 2010

[...] Adams, the Clinton administration budget official, wrote in a recent analysis that for “any real savings on defense budgets to occur, end strength must shrink.” But the [...]

2. Darryl B Youzefowich - July 24, 2010

What Gates and the White House need to have is a laser focus on what foreign world situation will look like in the next ten years and then set priorities – low risk, low likelihood scenarios will eliminate some corresponding defense programs. But that does not mean eliminating low profile priorities that will have a payback at some time – the WH must not be like a student cramming for the next exams coming up and neglect preparing for his finals. To finesse that difference requires someone up there that can appreciate such nuances – not sure the current white house staff is up to it. Emmanuel and Massina are attack dogs, so every thing starts to look like steak, taking vitamin D is not on their minds.

3. Darryl B Youzefowich - July 24, 2010

Cutting health benefits in the defense department is sure to get everyone angry, unless there is a deal made – what budget cutters never realize is that while no one will agree to such measures, they can’t go the other way and ignore consent. When resentment builds up (those that get things rammed down their throats), then that anger building up starts to bite someone, somewhere at unfortunate times. Better to publicly go to military personnel and say that the cuts have to made, and do the work for others to “see” the issues. Yes, almost impossible, but don’t think anyone alive in the US doesn’t know that change is coming, most of the work is done by present circumstances. What needs to be done is the perception is that the cuts are equitable, consultation is serious, and favorites are not being played. A very tall order. Maybe Gates is the man to do it, dunno. But that guy must be a once in a lifetime teacher, that enables people to “see” how cuts are tied to acceptable outcomes, wow, tough job. Good luck.

4. Darryl B Youzefowich - July 24, 2010

There is a human maxim – if you have to do something painful, do it at the beginning of any tenure, so that the pain is out-front and then things get better, prolonged periods of bleeding get people upset.

But the ground has to be prepared long time beforehand for that pain, surprise amounts of pain is always more difficult to cope with than expected cuts, known treatment of the conditions.

The danger is that the known treatments be what the patient needs, not what the doctor learned in medical school that is out- of- date. So deficit reductions are good, but in what may be a ten year period of stagnation? Tricky, tricky.

What the US needs is hope, a “reason” to make tough sacrifices, a plan. Right now, too much fear, not enough hope. That means that risk taking will be reduced, you can guarantee it.

That applies to what defense officials will accept, plan to cut – same with every other player in the cuts equation.

In other words, it is a confused mess of fear, lack of hope, lack of strong leadership to “see” the way ahead and reduce anxiety.

What happens when someone is confused? They do nothing, bank on it.

5. Darryl B Youzefowich - July 24, 2010

I can tell you about the wars in the mideast and Afghanistan as it regards to troop reduction, the bottom line – there is no possible way those people in those regions will accept foreign troops forever.

Why? Because their identity is rapped up in family, place and religious groups. Only slowly is a fourth way being introduced, such as job identity, world issues, etc.

They are simple people, and they will (mostly)reject anyone with an identity other than the above. How do I know? Lived in the region for 5+ years.

So unless the US wants to be in an out of Afghanistan and the mideast for the next fifty years (reeking damage to budgets, among other big problems), it has to encourage the expansion of identities to include something other than the big three.

Maybe as a short term fix it needs to make a deal with say,Turkey for their troops to go in – at least they are Muslim, one of the big three, but not part of a particular religious identity of any one region, so imperfect. And they will want a big carrot to do it too. And they have baggage in the region from the Ottoman times. Tough choices.

So this is how the debate has to be formed…around such issues, foresighted pragmatism.

That will tell you what weapons are needed, what personnel, what policies. What can be cut.


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