In This Review

The Wounded Giant: America's Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity
The Wounded Giant: America's Armed Forces in an Age of Austerity
By Michael O'Hanlon
The Penguin Press HC, 2011, 256 pp

After benefiting from a decadelong binge of military spending and having learned painful lessons in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. armed forces can claim to be better than ever. Given the urgent need to cut the deficit, it should therefore be possible to scale back military spending without damaging national security. O’Hanlon, a leading specialist on military budgets, argues that cuts can be made but should not be too drastic and should not usher in a disengaged foreign policy. China and Russia must be made to understand that the United States will continue to take its security commitments seriously. Meanwhile, the U.S. military must make preparations for potentially dire contingencies in Iran and North Korea without losing sight of its new appreciation for the difficulty of counterinsurgency and state building. Arguments like O’Hanlon’s seem to be reaching policymakers: in January, President Barack Obama announced that the focus of U.S. security strategy would begin to shift away from Europe and the Middle East and toward Asia and the Pacific, and the Pentagon already seems to have accepted the logic of shrinking ground forces.