Weidenbaum, Reagan's first chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, has a very different perspective on the defense buildup of the 1980s from Glynn (above). The case for a crash program was weak, he argues, and the program was chaotic going up as well as down. There is no one better placed to suggest how to do better next time around in limiting the harm of a rapid defense drawdown to both the economy and military. He is attentive to the uneven effects of defense cuts across the country, but his guidance is that of a thoughtful conservative. With annual cutbacks no larger than one percent of GNP, monetary adjustments should suffice to keep the economy from falling deeper into recession. Beyond that, the government should channel defense savings away from consumption and toward private sector research and development, then get out of the way.
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