Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226123912 Published April 2014
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226124070 Published April 2014
E-book $7.00 to $25.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226124100 Published April 2014

The American Warfare State

The Domestic Politics of Military Spending

Rebecca U. Thorpe

The American Warfare State
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See the online appendixes referenced in the book.

Rebecca U. Thorpe

248 pages | 4 halftones, 19 line drawings, 6 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2014
Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226123912 Published April 2014
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226124070 Published April 2014
E-book $7.00 to $25.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226124100 Published April 2014
How is it that the United States—a country founded on a distrust of standing armies and strong centralized power—came to have the most powerful military in history? Long after World War II and the end of the Cold War, in times of rising national debt and reduced need for high levels of military readiness, why does Congress still continue to support massive defense budgets?
 
In The American Warfare State, Rebecca U. Thorpe argues that there are profound relationships among the size and persistence of the American military complex, the growth in presidential power to launch military actions, and the decline of congressional willingness to check this power. The public costs of military mobilization and war, including the need for conscription and higher tax rates, served as political constraints on warfare for most of American history. But the vast defense industry that emerged from World War II also created new political interests that the framers of the Constitution did not anticipate. Many rural and semirural areas became economically reliant on defense-sector jobs and capital, which gave the legislators representing them powerful incentives to press for ongoing defense spending regardless of national security circumstances or goals. At the same time, the costs of war are now borne overwhelmingly by a minority of soldiers who volunteer to fight, future generations of taxpayers, and foreign populations in whose lands wars often take place.
 
Drawing on an impressive cache of data, Thorpe reveals how this new incentive structure has profoundly reshaped the balance of wartime powers between Congress and the president, resulting in a defense industry perennially poised for war and an executive branch that enjoys unprecedented discretion to take military action.
William Howell, University of Chicago
“Rebecca U. Thorpe offers the most compelling argument I have seen for Congress’s diminished role in the domestic politics of war during the last half-century. It’s an argument moreover that no one has advanced so persuasively or meticulously. The American Warfare State constitutes an essential contribution to ongoing debates about the domestic politics of war.”
Andrew J. Bacevich, author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War
"When President Eisenhower first warned of the dangers posed by the warfare state, too few Americans paid attention. Now, in this carefully argued and entirely persuasive monograph, Rebecca U. Thorpe explains how that state operates and why it persists. In updating Ike's warning, she performs a great service. Perhaps this time we'll heed it."          
Linda L. Fowler, Dartmouth College
“In this first-rate study of the political economy of defense spending from World War II to 2008, Rebecca U. Thorpe asks why military expenditures in the postwar era ceased to follow historic patterns of contraction after wartime and have remained consistently high even during periods of relative international calm. Her answer focuses on the migration of defense contracting to homogeneous economies in rural and exurban areas that depend disproportionately on the flow of defense dollars. Through innovative tracking of budget outlays to local economies, Thorpe has revealed the connection between constituency interests and DOD budgets that most political observers believed to exist but that had eluded previous researchers.”
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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