American power is built on our economic prosperity and our commitment to the U.S. Constitution. Our growing national debt is a threat to our national security. As such, we must be mindful of the fiscal consequences of our foreign policy—critical decisions should be made about how to allocate limited resources to ensure America maintains the strongest military in the world.

The following policy issues are important to our national security and our military's capabilities, strength, and effectiveness. Therefore, we aim to educate and inform citizens, thought leaders, and policymakers of their importance in an effort to improve our national defense.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) transits the Atlantic Ocean, Dec. 12, 2018.jpg

Avoiding a war with Iran

Like most Middle East nations, Iran is guilty of malign behavior—but it is weak, regionally isolated, and unable to meaningfully project power. Its undesirable activities are local and pose no direct threat to the United States, and it lacks the capability to cause significant, long-term disruptions to the flow of oil. The threat Iran does pose is easily checked by its more powerful neighbors—dealing with it therefore requires little U.S. effort. U.S. interests are harmed by picking sides in the fight between Iran and Saudi Arabia. “Maximum pressure” is a risky strategy more likely to provoke Iranian escalation than lead to negotiations. A policy change to end maximum pressure and move toward normal relations with Iran would enhance U.S. security. It would help extricate the United States from the region’s disputes and avoid a potentially catastrophic war.


Disentangling from Syria

When President Obama, without congressional authorization, ordered U.S. forces to intervene in Syria, the mission was clear: liberate ISIS-held territory. That mission has been achieved. Leaving behind U.S. forces in Syria involves large risks without any security upside: it threatens to drive adversaries into allying against the United States; to inflame Islamist-nationalist sentiments in Iraq and Syria, making U.S. forces targets; and to risk U.S. conflict with Russia, Iran, Turkey, and Syria for no good reason. Staying also ties down U.S. forces and limits their focus on core missions. With ISIS’s “caliphate” destroyed, U.S. troops have achieved all they reasonably can and should be fully withdrawn.

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U.S. allies must be held responsible for defending themselves and the global commons. During the Cold War, defending the free world from communist conquest and domination while they rebuilt their economies was necessary and proper. As those countries prospered, however, the justification for American protection waned. The Cold War’s end further eroded the foundations of perpetual alliances backed by foreign-deployed U.S. troops. Other advanced nations should share America’s global burdens instead of free-riding on us.

A U.S. Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle approaches to refuel from a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron KC-135 Stratotanker over Iraq, Dec. 1, 2016.jpg

Ending the Yemen crisis

The Saudi-UAE-led intervention in Yemen’s civil war undermines U.S. interests: It prolongs and exacerbates a civil war that has increased Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula’s (AQAP) presence there, needlessly breeds new enemies and resentment toward the United States, and undermines U.S. standing as an exemplar of liberal values. None of our limited interests in the Middle East, and no achievable security or prosperity gains in Yemen, justify our involvement. U.S. military support for the Saudi-UAE-led coalition should end.



Article 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Constitution vests the power to declare war exclusively with Congress. In 2001 and 2002, Congress authorized the use of military force against those responsible for the 9/11 attacks and the government of Iraq—but neither of those applies to current missions against ISIS, a group which didn't exist at the time. If Congress supports ongoing operations against ISIS, according to our Constitution, it must first authorize the use of force limited with respect to time, geographic location, and adversaries. If Congress is unable or unwilling to pass a new AUMF, operations should necessarily end. The Constitution is clear: Only Congress can authorize war or military force, and only after such approval may the president deploy U.S. armed forces to pursue those ends.

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The Department of Defense (DoD) must properly account for the taxpayer resources it receives. DoD continues to be the primary reason the U.S. Government is unable to obtain an unqualified opinion for an audit of its consolidated financial statements, despite a two-decade-old legal requirement. While progress has been made, more is needed to ensure taxpayer funds are properly accounted for and wisely allocated. Across-the-board cuts to enforce audit-ready compliance may, however, face resistance. Approaches that trigger reforms to the structure of DoD to improve management and oversight incentives may be more feasible.



The time has come for a new round of BRAC. The Department of Defense (DoD) maintains significantly more domestic basing infrastructure than it needs, diverting resources away from readiness, modernization, and other higher-valued uses to provide for the common defense. DoD estimates 19% infrastructure excess by 2019—29% for the Army and 28% for the Air Force. However, Congress has blocked the DoD from conducting another round of BRAC. The 2005 BRAC combined some closures with significant realignment during a period of military expansion, so its high initial costs and longer pay-off period would not be duplicated in a new round. For an up-front cost of approximately $7 billion spread out over six years, DoD expects savings of at least $2 billion annually in perpetuity.