Framing the Debate

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April 7, 2009 8:37 a.m.
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You can lose a debate before it even starts if it’s framed badly for your side. When it comes to protecting their hallowed weapons programs, defense contractors and home state congressmen have a vested interest in framing the debate as much to their advantage as they can get away with. But that doesn’t mean the media has to be complicit in the framing.

As Brian Beutler points out, too much of the coverage of Defense Secretary Bob Gates’ proposal — trimming some major weapons programs and reallocating the money elsewhere in the Pentagon while increasing the overall defense budget — casts the debate as between those who would cut defense spending (Obama/Gates) and those who want a strong muscular defense (GOP and hawkish Democrats).

We’ve been grappling with this question for going on 20 years now: How should the U.S. restructure its military in a post-Cold War world? It’s time we stopped using a 20-year-old framing of the debate.

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