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


Hawks are Winning the Military Budget Wars

By Benjamin H. Friedman. National Interest (Online). March 20, 2015.

The GOP’s Budgetary Shenanigans Discourage Necessary Pentagon Reform

By Christopher A. Preble. March 19, 2015.

The Pentagon’s Bloat

By Benjamin H. Friedman. Boston Globe. February 17, 2015.

Cato Studies

The End of Overkill? Reassessing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy

By Benjamin H. Friedman, Christopher A. Preble, and Matt Fay. White Paper. September 24, 2013.

Economic Effects of Reductions in Defense Outlays

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

Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint

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


Reclaiming the War Power

Gene Healy. Policy Priorities for the 114th Congress. 2015.

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.

Public Filings

Military Restraint and Defense Savings

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

Cato Reviews & Journals


Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy

Featuring Christopher A. Preble and Justin Logan. June 12, 2014. Book Forum.

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.

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.