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Thinking About 2%

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Over at the National Interest I gave some thought about how to start getting the United States to a 2% of GDP benchmark on defense spending. Long story short, it’s going to be incredibly complicated and difficult.

Although foreign policy has generally not taken center-stage in the Democratic Presidential primary thus far, some of the candidates have begun to speak out about the size and extent of the U.S. defense establishment. This discussion has come as “progressive” foreign policy thinking has become more sophisticated and forward-thinking, especially with regards to defense. Although the perspectives of the candidates differ, most seem to believe that the defense budget has become too large and should be constrained in preference for domestic priorities. Some candidates, however, have hinted at a thorough-going rethinking of the size of the Department of Defense that would see a major reduction in funding, necessitating radical reforms in how the United States does national security.

To be honest, the more I think about it, the more I suspect that the easiest way to 2% (which is at best an intermediate goal, but would make the United States a “normal” country) is simply to hold tight on the existing budget (which would mean non-draconian cuts) and waiting for the economy to grow…

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