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U.S. Defense Spending and the Soviet Estimate

Charles W. Ostrom, Jr. and Robin F. Marra
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 80, No. 3 (Sep., 1986), pp. 819-842
DOI: 10.2307/1960540
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1960540
Page Count: 24
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U.S. Defense Spending and the Soviet Estimate
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Abstract

There is a glaring and potentially important discontinuity surrounding discussions of U.S. defense expenditure policy making. On the one hand, a growing body of empirically-based research questions whether the U.S. reacts in any significant fashion to the military expenditures of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, defense policy makers routinely justify defense increases as a response to similar increases by the Soviet Union. The discontinuity is resolved in the context of a multistep model of the defense expenditure policy-making process that incorporates a new estimate of Soviet defense spending and mass public opinion. Once formulated, the model provides answers to the following two questions: (1) Does the U.S., insofar as defense spending is concerned, react to the military expenditures of the Soviet Union? (2) If so, what is the magnitude of the reaction? The answers indicate that not only does the U.S. react to estimated Soviet defense spending, but that the reaction is directly responsible for a very substantial portion of the post-1978 increases in U.S. military expenditures.

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