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Researching the Military Spending Topic

December 20, 2016
Published in Newsletter

The military spending topic is one of the most timely topics the PF community has ever debated.  

First, as I noted in both my Blake and general topic essays, President-Elect Trump wants to substantially increase military spending by approx. $150 billion per year and he’s expressed interest in specific programs such as naval expansion, missile defense, and substantially increasing the end strength (the total number of troops) in the army. Spending in all of these areas is ripe for debate and hopefully will occupy a number of your January contests.

Second, there are many potential conflicts in the world that are developing in particularly problematic ways — North Korea/South Korea, China/South China Sea/China Taiwan, Russia/Eastern Europe, Russia/Europe, Russia/US.  And there is the continuing threat of global terrorism/ISIS and growing general instability in the US, particularly Syria and Iraq. This is just to name the major conflicts.  

These developments make this topic not only very easy to research but also mean that it is important to keep up with your research to be most prepared for your debates.  In this post, I will identify some of the best websites you can use to research this (and other foreign policy) topics.

Before I go through the list of websites, however, I want to point out that political Conservatives (Trump/Republicans) are generally supportive of more military spending and have recently made the case that the US lacks the military power it needs to deter and respond to global conflicts. Liberals support significant military spending but generally find that current budget to be sufficient, at least when accompanied by a modest increase.  Individuals on the far left are more generally opposed to even existing levels of military spending.

My Favorites

I review many of the major sites below and I find them all to be useful, but the ones I find most useful/check daily are The National Interest, Foreign Policy, and War on the Rocks.  I bet you’d find 90% of the articles on War on the Rocks worth a read.  The Heritage Foundation is especially useful for defending the Pro. The American Enterprise Institute is not only great for the Pro but also contains excellent daily updates.

Updates/Current Defense & Foreign Policy — Non-Partisan

ForeignPolicy.com. This website, which is published by the same group that publishes the leading foreign policy quarterly, Foreign Policy, features daily articles written by very qualified experts in the area of foreign policy on the hottest issues of the day. This is certainly something that you want to check out every day, at least as your tournaments approach. Since the articles have opinions/arguments, they are useful for debate research. Access to some of the articles requires a paid subscription, but many are available for free.

Real Clear World. This site links to some of the best articles published daily on issues related to US foreign policy.

BreakingDefense.com. This website covers the most recent news related to national defense.  The articles on this website are mostly pretty short and just hit the highlights of major issues, but it is a useful site to go to if you want to see if there are any recent developments related to the topic.  Military.com is a similar website — it offers covers breaking news related to military issues.

Conservative Websites

National Interest.  This website is great not only because it is generally a great source of Pro evidence but because there are daily updates that focus on the hottest defense and foreign security related news items. It also features very qualified authors. I strongly suggest checking out this site every day. The National Interest is a publication of the Center for the National Interest, which has additional material.

Heritage Foundation.  The Heritage Foundation is a conservative policy think tank with a large influence in Washington, D.C.  In its National Security and Defense section, you can find many proposals for generally increased defense spending A2/AD response, cyber security budget issues, support for missile defense, and support for increased spending on the navy and end strength development.  The Heritage Foundation publishes the conservative Daily Signal.  If you click on “Terrorism” at the top, you will find many articles relevant to national defense.

American Enterprise Institute.  This conservative site updates its content regularly (4-5 articles per day) and has many articles that cover foreign policy and national defense issues.

American Foreign Policy Council. This is a very conservative think tank with some useful material.

Foreign Policy Journal. This journal is a little hard to categorize, but it seems both supportive of Trump and generally critical of a more aggressive US foreign policy.

Liberal Websites — Center Left

Conservative websites are easier to categorize as Pro because they all are support substantial increases in military spending in most areas. More mainstream liberal websites are more difficult to categorize because while they certainly support a strong defense posture, they do not support as significant of increases in defense spending as most conservatives due. Nonetheless, they think it is important to protect US security and you will also be able to find Pro evidence at these websites as well.

Brookings Institute. The Brookings Institute is a Center-Left think think tank that publishes many resources on national security and foreign policy and national security issues. Well-regarded defense analyst Michael O’Hanlon frequently publishes here. For example, check out his, US Defense Strategy and the Defense Budget

Center for New American Security.  This website is not updated frequently (the last update is October 20th), but it has some great material. I’d also categorize it as center-left.

Atlantic Council.  This think tank has a lot of generally useful material related to foreign conflicts.

Liberal Websites — Far Left

Antiwar.com This far left website generally takes a strong stand against military spending and military solutions to conflict.

Foreign Policy in Focus (FPIF). While not as anti-war as Antiwar.com, FPIF takes a highly critical approach to US foreign policy, particularly the military side.

Liberal Websites — Periodicals

Arms Control Today.  This bi-monthly periodical contains a number of articles primarily written opposition to the expansion and modernization of nuclear weapons. It also has articles that are highly critical of other military developments, including drones.

Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a bi-monthly publication that generally opposes the development of new weapons systems, with a particular emphasis on nuclear weapons.

Non-Partisan — Think Tanks

Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (CEIP).  The CEIP provides a lot of coverage for issues related to security in Europe and threats related to Russian aggression.

Center for Security and International Studies (CSIS). One of the leading foreign policy think tanks, CSIS publishes some of the very best material on national security and foreign policy. Most recent articles included in-depth pieces on North Korea and the South China Sea conflict.

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSAB).  The CSAB is an independent think tank that is primarily focused on recommendations for military spending and defense. improvements.

Council on Foreign Relations. This site has excellent opinion pieces and more in-depth research studies on contemporary foreign policy and security issues.

Foreign Policy Research Institute.  This non-partisan organization publishes regular pieces on controversies related to defense spending and foreign policy.

Institute for Foreign Policy Analysis.  It may have been better to categorize this as a conservative site, but it does have a number of publications that don’t taken an obvious conservative stand.

Rand Corporation.  This leading think tank has a number of articles and studies by leading experts on defense and security policy.

Non-Partisan — Blogs

War on the Rocks.  This is a blog with articles from leading scholars of US foreign policy and national defense. It has a number of excellent articles on the home page.

Non-Partisan — Periodicals

Foreign Affairs. Foreign Affairs is one of the leading foreign policy quarterlies and features many articles on US hegemony and power projection. Access to the articles does require a subscription, but you can gain access to one free article per month.

Naval War College Review.  Produced by the Naval War College, this quarterly publication has many outstanding articles on debates related to the need for expanded naval power.  If you are preparing to debate about the navy, this is a must read.

Washington Quarterly. The Washington Quarterly is one of the leading foreign policy quarterlies, with content produced every 4 months by some of the leading academics in international security studies.  The most recent edition features articles not only on general national security challenges but also on the Trump presidency and what it means for foreign policy.

Government

House Armed Services Committee.  This website has many hearings on issues related to the military budget, including naval modernization, missile defense, the third offset, and troop strength. We indexed some of the specific hearings relevant to the topic here.

Senate Armed Services Committee.  This website has many hearings on issues related to the military budget, including naval modernization, missile defense, the third offset, and troop strength

Congressional Research Service Reports.  The link has a number of Congressional Research Service reports on military and security topics.

Asia.  

The Diplomat.  Although the journal only allows free access to 5 articles per month, the articles are all outstanding.

Academic Periodicals — Theoretical

There are a number of academic periodicals with more theoretical research on military spending, arms races, and conflict. The journals do require access through a university research institution or purchasing the article.  Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Peace Research, International Studies Quarterly.

 

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