In This Review

How to Be a Cheap Hawk: The 1999 and 2000 Defense Budgets
How to Be a Cheap Hawk: The 1999 and 2000 Defense Budgets
By Michael O'Hanlon
Brookings, 1998, 178 pp

An oxymoronic title is an avoidable misfortune. A cheap hawk belongs in an aviary of mythological birds, inhabited chiefly by parsimonious politicians desirous of appearing tough. The author has produced another survey of the defense budget in the Brookings tradition, calling for modest, sober, and prudent reductions in the defense budget. The tables and graphs are ample, the writing clear, and the references impeccable. The arguments are comprehensive, if superficial, as in a two- or three-page summary of the "revolution in military affairs" debate. But there is a certain willingness to take good news at face value (as when, for example, senior officers blithely say that units have never been more ready while the air force cannot retain pilots and marine helicopters wheeze their way into fatal accidents). The tone is eminently reasonable, but one cannot help but wonder what circumstances would elicit a plea for modest, sober, and prudent increases in the defense budget.