Reining in Military Overkill

By Bischak, Greg | Issues in Science and Technology, Winter 1996 | Go to article overview

Reining in Military Overkill


Bischak, Greg, Issues in Science and Technology


With no major threat in sight, the Pentagon should ease up on its planned buying spree and focus more on nonmilitary means of bolstering U.S. security.

The end of the Cold War set off contentious debate about what constitutes the most effective and least expensive security policy for the United States. A central issue has been the size, pace, and direction of efforts to develop new and improved weapons to meet emerging threats. Although congressional leaders have called for rapid increases in funding for weapons modernization, most of the new weapons spending in the past two budgets has been devoted to older, existing weapon systems and to accelerating R&D funding of new systems in areas where threats are, arguably, dubious. The Clinton administration has argued that congressional add-ons will jeopardize its modernization budget, which is slated to grow to $60 billion in FY2001, a 40 percent real increase over the president's FY1997 request. Critics, however, blame both Congress and the administration for failing to curtail funding for Cold War-era systems, such as the B-2 bomber and the Seawolf submarine, and for modernization programs that lack a coherent rationale in the post-Cold War world, notably the New Attack Submarine and national ballistic missile defense.

Despite this fractious debate, little light has been shed on the critical question of whether the U.S. military really needs to rapidly pursue weapons modernization, especially given its decisive technological advantage in virtually every militarily significant field. Remarkably, there has been a lack of public deliberation about the merits of specific weapon programs based on the probable military threats posed by potential foes. Nor has there been serious consideration of how the continuous pursuit of military superiority can bring with it technological uncertainty and substantial risk of escalation of the cost of new weaponry. And despite recent efforts at joint planning, the armed services' modernization plans still overlap with considerable redundancy in missions and weaponry. This redundancy implies significant overkill capabilities in the Department of Defense's (DOD's) most daunting scenario of two major, nearly simultaneous regional conflicts. Even more remarkable is the absence of a substantial evaluation of the plausibility of the two-war scenario, which guides planning for all post-Cold War defense requirements.

Although Congress has now required DOD to conduct a new review of defense requirements, which will take place early in 1997, there has been scant discussion of which overarching security doctrine these defense requirements should support. The lack of a debate has allowed congressional Republicans to advance an almost entirely military-based approach to preserving U.S. security. Indeed, an alliance of Republican defense and deficit hawks has pushed through cuts in nonmilitary programs to promote international stability, including the modest but important Cooperative Threat Reduction program, which is helping to dismantle nuclear warheads in the former Soviet Union and protect the extracted fissile materials from theft. As an alternative, defense hawks have aggressively promoted national ballistic missile defense as the counterproliferation means of choice. Meanwhile, the administration, though still supporting nonmilitary, alternative security approaches, has largely gone along with the Republican push to boost the military's technological superiority with new, even more lethal, high-tech conventional weapons while preserving a large nuclear arsenal.

But the increasing emphasis on purely military solutions is extremely shortsighted, especially because our greatest near-term threats - the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, ethnic and religious conflicts, international terrorism, and so on - rarely lend themselves to such solutions. Outgoing Defense Secretary William Perry has acknowledged this to be the case with his notion of "preventive defense," enunciated in a speech at Harvard University in May 1996. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Reining in Military Overkill
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.