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


Donald Trump Offers Foreign Policy Vision: Contradictory, but Still Best of a Bad Lot

By Doug Bandow. Forbes. April 28, 2016.

Technology Converges, Power Diffuses

By T. X. Hammes. February 15, 2016.

What America’s Military Spending Debate Is Missing

By Christopher A. Preble. The National Interest (Online). January 29, 2016.

Cato Studies

Technologies Converge and Power Diffuses: The Evolution of Small, Smart, and Cheap Weapons

By T. X. Hammes. Policy Analysis No. 786. January 27, 2016.

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.


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

U.S. National Security Strategy after Primacy: Resilience, Self-Reliance, and Restraint

By Christopher A. Preble. Testimony. October 29, 2015.

Military Restraint and Defense Savings

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

Cato Reviews & Journals


The Case for Restraint in U.S. Foreign Policy

Featuring Christopher A. Preble, A. Trevor Thrall, Benjamin H. Friedman, & John Mueller. June 15, 2016. Conference.

America’s Invisible Wars

Featuring Emma Ashford. January 25, 2016. Policy Forum.

Blood Oil: Tyrants, Violence, and the Rules that Run the World

Featuring Ian Vásquez and Christopher A. Preble. January 13, 2016. Book 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.