Avoiding a Strategy of Bluff: The Crisis of American Military Primacy

The United States confronts challenges from revisionist great powers such as China and Russia, aggressive rogue states such as Iran and North Korea, and international terrorist organizations such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. At the same time, constant-dollar defense spending fell from $768 billion in 2010 to $595 billion in 2015, the fastest drawdown - in percentage terms - since the Korean War. The result has been a creeping crisis of American military primacy, as the margin of superiority to which the United States has become accustomed has diminished, and a growing gap between U.S. commitments and capabilities has emerged. Closing that gap will require a significant, sustained defense buildup in the years to come.