The U.S. Defense Budget in International Security and Domestic Politics

Professor: Young
Units: 1.0
Elective Course
Concentration: Social & Behavioral Science

Political scientist Samuel Huntington described military policy as a product of two worlds: international politics and domestic politics. International politics is 'the world of the balance of power, wars and alliances, the subtle and the brutal uses of force and diplomacy to influence the behavior of other states. The principal currency of this world is actual or potential military strength.' On the other side is domestic politics: the world of interest groups, political parties, social classes, with their conflicting interests and goals. The currency here is the resources of society: men, money, material.' In this way, military policy is a product of both the international security context that motivates military action, and the American political, social, and economic institutions that make such action possible.

Recent policy, legislation, and debate about the defense budget has included fundamental questions about America's priorities, global role, economic health, and fiscal future. The defense budget is cited as symptom or cause in narratives about the urgency of reducing the national deficit; about American resolve in the face of dangerous and evolving global threats; and about what the balance between commitments to defense and non-defense spending says about the nature of the nation America aspires to be.

This course will provide a very brief overview of the budget as policy — both as a reflection of/determinate of grand strategy, and as a product of delicate political negotiation amongst U.S. institutions with unique responsibilities and incentives.