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If We Can Keep It: A National Security Manifesto for the Next Administration Paperback – January 31, 2008

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 166 pages
  • Publisher: Center for Defense Information (January 31, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1932019316
  • ISBN-13: 978-1932019315
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,862,229 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
The US spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined: a staggering sum of more than $0.75 Trillion (on an "all in" basis that includes hidden costs like the care of veterans) a year. It also, given the extremely competitive global economic environment we find ourselves in, runs counter to the great lesson of the Cold War: you cannot sacrifice long term economic success for short term military superiority (as the Soviets found out).

So what should the right size of the US Defense system be, given the threats we currently face today and may face tomorrow?

Chet argues that the amount of conventional military force necessary to defend the US is substantially smaller than it is today. All of the tasks we may undertake, from war with other states to counter-proliferation to counter-terrorism to counter-insurgency, require only a small fraction of the military forces we currently field.

He does make one exception though: wars of national liberation. He argues that wars of national liberation to oust foreign occupiers (where we are the occupiers) is the only scenario where large armies are required. However, since his review of the historical evidence demonstrates that these wars cannot be won by the occupier and that there is little to be gained by doing so in the first place, we should configure our foreign policy to avoid them. If we do so, we would then be free to right-size our forces to meet the real threats to our national security.

In his final section, Chet makes the case that a much small conventional force (Marines + special ops + air assets + some strategic) in addition to beefed up diplomacy and intelligence functions would cost much less than what we are currently spending (~$300 billion a year) but offer us much more security.
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Format: Paperback
I found this book on Chet's site, almost ten years after it was written. I have never encountered such a prescience of mind. His concerns of ten years ago are today's six o'clock news. Our leadership maintains the same detachment and unconcern. Chet expressed concern over the needless expenditure of up to a trillion dollars. I think today we are at 2.4 trillion. We have another election coming Real Soon Now.
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