Budget Breaker? The Financial Cost of U.S. Military Alliance
How do alliance commitments affect U.S. military spending? In this talk, we assess a debate on this important question, which is at the heart of discussions about the value of alliances and the future of U.S. grand strategy. One view, which we label the budget hawk perspective, argues that U.S. alliances are exorbitantly expensive. A competing perspective, which we call the bargain hunter view, claims that U.S. alliance commitments are relatively cheap and might even reduce military spending. We put these claims to the test using a statistical model of U.S. defense expenditures from 1947 to 2019. We find that one new alliance commitment adds between $11 and $21 billion to the size of the defense budget. Military alliances benefit the United States in many ways but, consistent with the budget hawk view, they are expensive for Washington to maintain.
About this Lecture
Lectures of Opportunity offers U.S. Naval War College (NWC) students, faculty, and staff an opportunity to learn more about national and international socio-political subjects that may be of relevance to the NWC community.