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CRS Report: Economics and National Security: Issues and Implications for U.S. Policy

February 2, 2011

Congressional Research Service, 4 Jan 2011: As the world begins the second decade of the twenty-first century, the United States holds what should be a winning hand of a preeminent military, large economy, strong alliances, and democratic values. The nation’s security should be secure. Yet the debate over national security seems to be both intensifying and broadening. The problem appears not only in the difficulty of finding a winning strategy in the long war against acts of terrorism but having to face economic constraints that loom large in the public debate. In addition, the global financial crisis and recession have highlighted the trade-off between spending to protect against external threats and spending to provide jobs and income for citizens at home. The United States has long been accustomed to pursuing a “rich man’s” approach to national security. The country could field an overwhelming fighting force and combine it with economic power and leadership in global affairs to bring to bear far greater resources than any other country against any threat to the nation’s security. The economy has always been there both to provide the funds and materiel for defense and to provide economic security for most households. Policies for economic growth and issues such as unemployment have been viewed as domestic problems largely separate from considerations of national security…

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