US Defense Politics
The Origins of Security Policy
Routledge – 2009 – 194 pages
This new textbook seeks to explain how US defense and national security policy is formulated and conducted. The focus is on the role of the President, Congress, political partisans, defense industries, lobbies, science, the media, and interest groups, including the military itself, in shaping policies. It examines the following key themes:
The book shows how political and organizational interests determine US defense policy, and warns against the introduction of centralising reforms. In emphasizing the process of defense policy-making, rather than just the outcomes of that process, this book signals a departure from the style of many existing textbooks.
'An excellent and useful overview of the formulation of strategy at its most practical level … The authors deserve praise for their clear and concise prose, and for including useful features like lists of recommended reading at the end of every chapter and short biographical sketches of the giants of American defence policy.' - Canadian International Council's International Journal, Summer 2010, 789
‘In US Defense Politics, [the authors] look into politics affecting our national defense… The fact that each of the 12 chapters includes questions for discussion and recommendations for additional reading makes it a valuable tool for mentors who are developing the leaders of tomorrow.’ - SSgt Justin N. Theriot, USAF, in Air & Space Power Journal
Preface Part 1: Introduction A Short History. Enduring Questions Part 2: America’s Security Strategy American Power. Dilemmas of American Grand Strategy. Post-Cold War Grand Strategy Alternatives. Constraints on American Security Policy. The American Way of Warfare Part 3: Who Fights America’s Wars? The Different Systems. The Guard and Reserves. Who Volunteers Unanticipated Consequences of the AVF. Socializing the Force Part 4: The Military and National Politics Not Above Politics Anymore. Soldiers’ Personal Politics. Partisan National Security Policy? Resisting Control. The Goldwater-Nichols Reform. Civilians Push Back. Controlling Professionals Part 5: The Political Economy of Defense The Defense Budget. Replacing Public Arsenals with Private Firms. How Private Arsenals Work. A Cyclical Business. Regulation, Not Industrial Policy. The Strangest of Customers Part 6: The Weapons Acquisition Process The Weapons Acquisition Scorecard. Two Types of Uncertainty. Seeking Reform. Making It Worse. Making It Work Part 7: Managing Defense Management under Constraints. Managing To Do What? Robert Strange McNamara. Donald Rumsfeld. Managing the Un-Manageable Part 8: Service Politics The U.S. Marine Corps. The U.S. Army. The U.S. Navy. The U.S. Air Force. The U.S. Special Operations Command. Jointness Part 9: Congress, Special Interests, and the President Little Interest in Oversight. Super-Special Interests as "Cargo Cults". Presidents React to Opportunities. The Politics of National Security Policymaking Part 10: Homeland Security Recognizing Threats to the Homeland. Don’t Just Stand There, Reorganize! More Planning, Please. Rise of the First Responders. WMD Part 11: Preparing for the Next War Markets versus Planning. Public versus Private. Experts versus Politics. Centralization versus Decentralization. Hail Confusion and Indecision. Glossary
Harvey M. Sapolsky is Professor of Public Policy and Organization in the Department of Political Science, MIT, and former Director of the MIT Security Studies Program.
Eugene Gholz is Associate Professor at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas at Austin.
Caitlin Talmadge is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science, MIT.