The Changing Dynamics of U. S. Defense Spending

The Changing Dynamics of U. S. Defense Spending

The Changing Dynamics of U. S. Defense Spending

The Changing Dynamics of U. S. Defense Spending


Probing beneath the stable surface of the political and economic environment for defense spending, this book reveals pressures for change and conflict in Congress, the news media, and the defense industry. It shows how fewer Congressional districts are getting larger shares of the Pentagon pie and questions whether new weapons help preserve the defense industry.


Despite the enormous claims it makes on American resources, the defense budget is the object of surprisingly little academic or press scrutiny. A study by Sandra Ionno, David Andersen, and Jennifer Seltzer for the Defense Budgeting and Policy Project documents how academic interest since 1983 is declining from an already low base. The number of articles on the subject in academic journals has dropped to just six in 1996 from a high of 25 in 1990. University presses published just one book on the defense budget in 1996, down from six in 1991. The authors could find no courses devoted to the defense budget at the nation's leading colleges and universities, although some courses touched on the subject. The story was the same at the country's most prestigious newspapers and newsweeklies.

What has been published says very little about the changing politics of defense. The dearth of such work prompted this book.

While I was on the editorial board of the New York Times, I called on government officials and experts in the academy and non-governmental organization (NGO) community from time to time with questions about defense budgeting and policy. A number of my questions went unanswered because no one had done the research needed to answer them.

When I left the Times in 1995, I wrote to several foundations, posing nine questions that I thought deserved attention. Christine Wing at the Ford Foundation agreed. Thanks to funding from Ford, the Defense Budgeting and Policy Project began. Thanks to Ken Prewitt, the Social Science Research Council agreed to house the project. Thanks to my dedicated colleagues who undertook the studies, we now have some answers to my questions. The conclusions they reached are their own, not the Ford Foundation's or the Social Science Research Council's.

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