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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter September 16, 2020

Rethinking U.S. National Security after Covid19

  • Linda J. Bilmes EMAIL logo


The United States has traditionally defined national security in the context of military threats and addressed them through military spending. This article considers whether the United States will rethink this mindset following the disruption of the Covid19 pandemic, during which a non-military actor has inflicted widespread harm. The author argues that the US will not redefine national security explicitly due to the importance of the military in the US economy and the bipartisan trend toward growing the military budget since 2001. However, the pandemic has opened the floodgates with respect to federal spending. This shift will enable the next administration to allocate greater resources to non-military threats such as climate change and emerging diseases, even as it continues to increase defense spending to address traditionally defined military threats such as hypersonics and cyberterrorism.

Corresponding author: Linda J. Bilmes, Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, E-mail:


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Received: 2020-08-25
Accepted: 2020-08-26
Published Online: 2020-09-16

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