In a literal sense, the United States does not have a defense budget. The adjective is wrong. Our military spending is for many purposes: other nations’ defense, the purported extension of freedom, the maintenance of hegemony, and the ability to threaten any other nation with conquest. But the relationship between these objectives and the end they purport to serve, the protection of Americans and their welfare, is unclear. In fact, defining the requirements of our defense so broadly is probably counterproductive. Our global military posture and activism drag us into others’ conflicts, provoke animosity, cause states to balance our power, and waste resources. We need a defense budget worthy of the name.

More on Defense Budget/Policy


Military Cuts a Step in the Right Direction

By Benjamin H. Friedman. Orange County Register. March 5, 2014.

Has the Threat from Terrorism Been Exaggerated?

By John Mueller. Commentator. January 8, 2014.

Americans Favor Not Isolationism But Restraint

By Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher A. Preble. Los Angeles Times. December 27, 2013.

Cato Studies

Economic Effects of Reductions in Defense Outlays

By Benjamin Zycher. Policy Analysis No. 706. August 8, 2012.

Dominoes on the Durand Line? Overcoming Strategic Myths in Afghanistan and Pakistan

By Joshua Rovner and Austin Long. Foreign Policy Briefing No. 92. June 14, 2011.

Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint

By Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher A. Preble. Policy Analysis No. 667. September 21, 2010.


Correspondence: Debating American Engagement: The Future of U.S. Grand Strategy

Justin Logan, Benjamin H. Friedman and Brendan Rittenhouse Green. International Security. Vol. 38. No. 2. Fall 2013.

Defense Sense: Options for National Defense Savings in Fiscal Year 2013

Benjamin H. Friedman, Christopher A. Preble, Carl Conetta, Charles Knight & Ethan Rosenkranz. The Commonwealth Institute. May 15, 2012.

Why the U.S. Military Budget Is Foolish and Sustainable

Benjamin H. Friedman and Justin Logan. Orbis. Spring 2012.

Public Filings

Military Restraint and Defense Savings

By Benjamin H. Friedman. Testimony. July 20, 2010.


Rethinking U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

Featuring Benjamin H. Friedman and Christopher A. Preble. November 25, 2013. Capitol Hill Briefing.

Dangerous World? Threat Perception and U.S. National Security

Featuring Christopher A. Preble, Justin Logan, John Mueller, Benjamin H. Friedman & Mark G. Stewart. October 25, 2013. Conference.

Strategy, Not Math: The Emerging Consensus on National Security in an Era of Austerity

Featuring Christopher A. Preble. March 14, 2013. Policy Forum.

Downsizing the Federal Government

Rightsizing U.S. Ground Forces

By Christopher A. Preble. November 2010.

A Plan to Cut Military Spending

By Christopher A. Preble and Benjamin H. Friedman. November 2010.

Refocusing U.S. Defense Strategy

By Christopher A. Preble and Benjamin H. Friedman. November 2010.