Dec 22

Past Event

The Defense Budget and American Power

Event Materials



  • Can Defense Cuts Contribute to Deficit Reduction?

    Michael O’Hanlon: A strong military is paramount, but by making strategic, peace-time reductions in our ground forces and with more selective modernization we can help reduce the defense budget.

    Michael E. O'Hanlon

  • U.S. Foreign Debt, Deficit More Imperative than Defense Cuts

    Alice Rivlin: If America’s economy is weak and constrained by massive foreign debt, then U.S. military strength is weakened as well.

    Alice M. Rivlin

  • Defense Cuts Unnecessary

    Robert Kagan: What does the liberal world order cost? Saving $50 to $65 billion a year on cuts to the defense budget is too risky and unnecessary.

    Robert Kagan


The United States is confronting a period of great economic challenge and uncertainty, coupled with unsustainable increases in the federal debt. The potential exists for other world powers to benefit from the relative U.S. decline. In a new Foreign Policy paper, "Defense Budgets and American Power," Brookings Senior Fellow Michael O'Hanlon explores the question of historic change and the transformations in global economics that affect military power and national security. Though the main burden of reducing prospective deficits cannot fall on the Department of Defense alone, O’Hanlon offers suggestions for saving 10 percent in the annual defense program.

On December 22, the Brookings Institution hosted a discussion of "Defense Budgets and American Power," as well as the prospects for U.S. deficit reduction, the impact of the massive debt on U.S. national security, and the U.S. defense budget and defense policy more broadly. Michael O’Hanlon, also author of Budgeting for Hard Power (Brookings Press, 2009), presented the arguments from his paper, followed by a panel discussion featuring Brookings Senior Fellow Robert Kagan and Brookings Senior Fellow Alice Rivlin, a member of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and co-chair, with former Senator Pete Domenici, of the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force.

Martin Indyk, vice president and director of Foreign Policy at Brookings, provided introductory remarks and moderated the discussion. After the program, panelists took audience questions.

Watch full event video on C-SPAN »

Event Agenda


December 22, 2010

10:00 AM - 11:30 AM EST

The Brookings Institution

Falk Auditorium

1775 Massachusetts Ave., NW


For More Information

Brookings Office of Communications

(202) 797-6105