In the News

The Case for Reducing Defense Spending

Larry Korb argues that the Biden administration must reduce the U.S. defense budget without jeopardizing national security by canceling tactical nuclear weapons; retiring irrelevant and old Navy ships; and slowing the production of F-35 fighter jets.

As the United States approaches the start of its next fiscal year, defense spending will soon approach a whopping $1 trillion. To understand how this came about, it is important to go back to the start of the Trump administration, in January 2017.

Upon taking office, former President Donald Trump argued that he had to significantly raise defense spending because the military was severely depleted, lacked modern and sufficient equipment, and was facing a massive readiness crisis. But, as experts such as retired General David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution pointed out, this was categorically false. There was no readiness crisis. In fact, according to Petraeus and O’Hanlon, the state of the U.S. military was “awesome” when Trump was elected. Nevertheless, Trump increased defense spending by $71 billion, or 11 percent, during his first year in office. By the time he completed his term, Trump had raised the defense budget by almost $100 billion to a total of about $740 billion.

The above excerpt was originally published in The National Interest. Click here to view the full article.

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Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow


National Security and International Policy

Advancing progressive national security policies that are grounded in respect for democratic values: accountability, rule of law, and human rights.

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