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Seeking Fiscal Safety, U.S. Defense Cuts Raise Geopolitical Risk

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2014

More than anything else, grand strategy is about balancing risk. In a world of limited resources, countries cannot have everything they might like to have, or achieve everything they might like to achieve. They cannot defend perfectly against every threat, or spend robustly on every priority at home and abroad. This is why grand strategy requires policymakers to choose—to make judgments about what risks a country can accept, and what risks it cannot.

This is precisely the dilemma illustrated by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s speech on the defense budget on Feb. 24. As Hagel made clear, the armed forces are expecting a period of prolonged fiscal austerity, with spending levels falling considerably below those envisioned even in the retrenchment-minded 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. These reductions, in turn, will require real cutbacks in military force structure and capabilities. ...

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