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Naval protection of peacetime commerce: An attempted but failed subsidy October 5, 2010

Posted by Guest Blogger in Analysis.
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By Benjamin Friedman

Benjamin Friedman is research fellow in defense and homeland security studies at the Cato Institute.

The Cato Policy Analysis that I recently completed with my colleague Christopher Preble, Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint, has enough detail about cutting the defense budget to bore most casual readers to tears. (Risa Trump wrote about it here anyway) But the description of the non-interventionist* strategy that underlies the cuts is full of ideas and statements that may stir more people’s interest or ire.

One such statement is that, “despite its popularity, there is scant evidence for the claim that international commerce requires American military hegemony.” Read more…

Noteworthy Report: Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint September 24, 2010

Posted by bfadtest in News.
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By Risa Trump

The CATO Institute’s Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble released a report this week recommending significant defense budget cuts. Molded around a security strategy of restraint, Friedman and Preble find $1.2 trillion of savings between FY 2011 and 2020 by setting priorities.

The report argues that DOD has taken on too much, stretching our forces thin and resulting in significant waste. A strategy of restraint recognizes that “power tempts the United States to meddle in foreign troubles we should avoid. Restraint means fighting that temptation.” By choosing a more rigid security strategy, the U.S. is able to clearly define what will make Americans safer., resulting in significant budget cuts because it requires less from the institutions that support the military.

Suggested cuts include reducing the end-force strength of the Marine Corps and Army by a third, cutting carrier battle groups by three (to eight), and eliminating six Air Force fighter-wing equivalents. Friedman and Preble propose cutting the Pentagon’s research and development budget by 10 percent and the overall intelligence budget by 15 percent. An added benefit is that a significant by-product of these cuts is the reduction in administrative overhead costs, which account for “approximately 40 percent of [the department’s] budget.”

Friedman and Preble are able to justify most of the force cuts by pointing out that most other countries are do not have anywhere near the same military capabilities as does the U.S., nor the same spending levels.  This chart, located on page 4 of the report, shows just how much the US spends compared to other nations.

With mid-term elections approaching and Americans becoming more leery of the growing budget deficit, this report proposes actionable recommendations not only in the realm of the budget but also more generally for national security. Emphasizing the need to choose a strategy and reduce the burden on not just the troops but also the Department on the whole, Friedman and Preble recommend a series of cuts that logically combine strategy and reality.