In This Review

Holding the Line: U.S. Defense Alternatives for the Early 21st Century
Holding the Line: U.S. Defense Alternatives for the Early 21st Century
Edited by Cindy Williams
MIT Press, 2001, 289 pp

Any incoming administration is guaranteed unsolicited national security advice. This collection of essays emanates chiefly from members of the analytical community -- the RAND Corporation, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Brookings Institution, and the Council on Foreign Relations -- and represents both the high pedigree of the authors and their moderate leanings. The authors' pervasive discontent with the Clinton administration's defense record is perhaps more striking, given their centrist-Democratic perspective and affiliations. (That said, the first Bush administration hardly receives much kudos for its management of the transition to a post-Cold War military.) Some essays are good, some less so, but most striking is the absence of a clear foreign policy framework for defense issues. The analysis is sober, well-informed, and thoughtful, but one detects no consensus on what exactly the armed forces exist to do.