Security Fallacies: how the military, think tanks, and the press promote bad policy and make Americans poor, scared, and unsafe


When a 2016 internal Department of Defense study uncovered $125 billion in administrative waste, the agency’s response was characteristic: it buried the report, removed a summary version from its website, and requested that Congress increase its budget anyway.

The Pentagon has roughly $2.2 trillion in assets. It consumes more than half of Congressional discretionary spending. And until 2018 it had never undergone an agency-wide audit. Nonetheless, the Pentagon’s top-level National Defense Strategy Commission warned in November that should Congress fail to authorize more military spending, “we will surely regret it.”

How does it happen, year after year, irrespective of which party controls the White House or Congress?

We’ve created a guide to the common fallacies and rhetorical devices that allow the military, foreign policy think tanks, the press, and Congress to advocate endless war and growing budgets despite the military’s fundamental unaccountability and its track record of unrealized objectives. Each fact sheet explains a single fallacy and suggests ways to approach security policy issues without inflating threats.

Rumors of America’s insecurity are exaggerated, and they distract from more pressing security needs. These fact sheets show why.


Read The Handbook: