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Something in the Air: ‘Isolationism,’ Defense Spending, and the US Public Mood

(printable PDF full version) (printable PDF executive summary) by Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, Center for International Policy, 14 October 2014.
Something Report-Cover Is “neo-isolationism” captivating the American public? Or is interventionism back? Will the public continue to support reductions in defense spending? The report offers a comprehensive and critical analysis of current and historical US public opinion polls on global engagement, military intervention, and defense spending. Significant fluctuation in public sentiments is evident. So is an enduring divide between elite opinion and the general public. The report assesses these in light of changes in US policy, strategic conditions, and the economy. It also examines the effect of partisan political dynamics on public debate and opinion. Seven tables and graphs.
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Asia Pivot and Air-Sea Battle: Precipitating Military Competition with China?

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, Reset Defense Bulletin, 03 March 2014. Will China come to pose a peer military threat to the United States?  The Obama administration’s 2012 Strategic Defense Review and the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) turn on this eventuality. Both the so-called “Asia pivot” and the evolving Air-Sea Battle (ASB) operational concept are meant to preclude it. But they may serve to precipitate it, instead.
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US Policy on Syria: War or Diplomacy?

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta, editor, Project on Defense Alternatives Resource Compilation. Updated: 23 September 2013.    A Selection of Critical Views & Proposals:   ● War or diplomacy?   ● Intelligence   ● International Law   ● International & Domestic Support   ● Congressional War Authorization   ● A broader purpose, a wider war?  ● Military Factors  ● Collateral Effects of War  ● Cost Factors & Budget   ● Alternatives to war  ● General Background
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Defense Sense – Fiscal Year 2014 Update: Options for National Security Savings

(printable PDF version) Project on Defense Alternatives, 26 June 2013. Outlines 16 recommendations that, taken together, achieve more than $22 billion in Pentagon savings in Fiscal Year 2014. Leading the list of savings options are reductions in military end strength, missile defense spending, and purchases of the F-35 Lightning II, Littoral Combat Ship, and Virginia-class submarine.
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Military Intervention in Syria? — American People Show Greater Wisdom Than Washington

(HTML version) by Charles Knight, Huffington Post, 07 May 2013. Advocates for U.S. military intervention in Syria are presently confounded by wide and deep opposition from the American public to additional military interventions abroad. When strong majorities hold opinions opposing military intervention in Syria there is something other than isolationism going on. Indeed, a majority of Americans are far ahead of Washington in learning the hard lessons of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
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Time to Reset Defense: Guidance for a More Effective and Affordable US Defense Posture

(video: presentations and discussion) (brief summary) a leadership conference sponsored by the Project on Defense Alternatives, held at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 26 March 2013. Panel 1: Dr. Gordon Adams, Stimson Center; Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives; Dr. Gregory Foster, National Defense University; Amy Belasco, Congressional Research Service, discussion interlocutor. Panel 2: Benjamin Friedman, Cato Institute; Melvin Goodman, Center for International Policy; Col. Douglas Macgregor (ret.), Burke-Macgregor Group; Sandra Erwin, National Defense Industrial Association, discussion interlocutor.
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Striking a New Deal for Defense

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, Government Executive, 13 February 2013. Whether or not the sequester goes into effect — or lasts only a couple of months — the Pentagon’s budget is surely coming down another notch or two. That’s simply the reality of the current economic and strategic circumstance. It’s time for defense leaders to plan accordingly. The surest way to make smaller Pentagon budgets work is to cut end strength and structure — fewer troops, brigades, ships and aircraft. In the near term this might be managed by reducing the number of soldiers and the size of units routinely stationed or rotated abroad.
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Reasonable Defense: A Sustainable Approach to Securing the Nation

(printable PDF version) (summary) (appendix of tables and charts) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Report #21, 14 November 2012.  Argues for a new balance among the various instruments of  national power reflecting today’s strategic conditions.  Taking a realistic view of security needs, the report advocates a military 20% smaller than today’s.   It advances a “discriminate defense” strategy that would focus the military on cost-effective missions and save $550 billion more than official plans over the next decade.   Main report includes 9 tables.  Appendix has 18 additional tables and charts addressing personnel, force structure, and budgets.
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A Smarter Way to Trim the Pentagon Budget

(HTML version) by Charles Knight, Time Battleland, 24 August 2012. The Reasonable Defense plan demonstrates how carefully conceived changes to the Pentagon budget can be consistent with economic recovery and also provide ample military capacity to protect America and our core commitments abroad.

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Defense Budget Resources 2012

(HTML version)  Project on Defense Alternatives Resource Compilation, 14 August 2012. A one-page compilation of PDA charts, articles, and reports on every aspect of the Pentagon spending controversy. Why do we spend so much? Is it necessary? What does it mean for debt, deficits, and the economy? How might we “reset defense” to ensure security, solvency, and economic revitalization?
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USA and Allies Outspend Potential Rivals on Military by Four-to-One; America Carries Much of the Defense Burden for its Allies

(printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, Project on Defense Alternatives, 17 July 2012.
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The Pentagon Budget and Jobs: How does defense spending rate for job creation?

(HTML version) by Ethan Rosenkranz, PDA Resource Compilation, 25 June 2012.
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Four Decades of US Defense Spending

(graph) PDA Data Summary, 25 January 2012. One page review and assessment of the change in US defense spending over 40 years. One graph.
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A Short Tour of Pentagon Financial Mismanagement, Waste, Fraud, and Abuse

(HTML version) by Ethan Rosenkranz and Carl Conetta, PDA Resource Compilation, 20 November 2011.
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Strategic Adjustment to Sustain the Force: A Survey of Current Proposals

(printable PDF version) by Charles Knight, PDA Briefing Memo #51, 25 October 2011. A survey of five proposals by independent experts for adjusting US global strategy to new fiscal realities in ways that enhance security while avoiding ‘hollowing’ of the forces.
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Going for Broke: The Budgetary Consequences of Current US Defense Strategy

(printable PDF version) PDA Briefing Memo #52, by Carl Conetta, 25 October 2011. The Pentagon’s adoption of more ambitious goals, strategy, and missions after the Cold War has led to today’s unsustainable defense budgets. Two tables.
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The Pentagon’s New Mission Set: A Sustainable Choice?

(printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, 01 August 2011. An updated and expanded excerpt from the Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget (USB) for the United States, August 2011.
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“Are We Ready to Cut Defense Spending? What the Polls Say.”

(HTML version) by Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, Huffington Post, 08 February 2011. Although neither the White House nor Congress seem eager to apply the deficit-reduction axe to the Pentagon’s record-level budgets, the American public appears ready.

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Experts Letter on Defense Spending to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) PDA and Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, 18 November 2010. Joint declaration by 48 top scholars and practitioners of national security policy: “We can achieve safe savings in defense if we are willing to rethink how we produce military power and how, why, and where we put it to use.”
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Debt, Deficits, and Defense: A Way Forward

(printable PDF version) (summary) Report of the Sustainable Defense Task Force, 11 June 2010. The report presents options for reducing DoD’s budget — in sum saving nearly $1 trillion over the next decade.
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An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending

(printable PDF version) (summary) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Report #20, 18 January 2010. Analyzes the steep rise in defense spending since 1998. 21 charts and tables.
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Re-Envisioning Defense: An Agenda for US Policy Debate & Transition

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) PDA Briefing Memo #44, 01 December 2008. Summarizes problem areas in recent US defense policy as well as several broad topics of debate that touch on them all. 

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Forceful Engagement: Rethinking the Role of Military Power in US Global Policy

(printable PDF version) (HTML version) (summary) by Carl Conetta, PDA Briefing Report #22, 01 December 2008. The US has been using its armed forces beyond the limit of their utility. The result is not just diminishing returns, but negative ones.
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Dissuading China and Fighting the ‘Long War’

(printable PDF version) by Carl Conetta, World Policy Journal, 01 July 2006. The 2006 US Defense Review advanced two new strategic vectors for the US armed forces – one targets a putative “global Islamic insurgency”; the other puts America on a collison course with China. 

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