Edited by Christopher J. Coyne and Rachel L. Mathers
Chapter 17: A Public Choice Perspective on Defense and Alliance Policy
Bernhard Klingen 17.1 INTRODUCTION Public choice analyses of defense and alliance policy are fairly scant. More than 20 years ago Hartley (1987, p. 399) “recognised that the analytical and empirical work is still in its infancy.” This has not changed significantly since that time. However the neglect stands in sharp contrast to the share a public choice approach could have in explaining defense and alliance policy. Defense as well as alliance policy have some distinct specifics. Informational asymmetries are exceptionally strong, ties between government, bureaucracy, industry and the military are tight, and the production of defense goods is hardly market-based. Moreover there are complex interstate dynamics, and international organizations play an important role. In this environment the political actors’ scope for diverting the political outcome from public interest is extremely large. This is where the public choice approach comes in. Therefore this chapter will review the political economy literature on defense and alliance policies as well as theories which could usefully be applied to them. Furthermore the specific features of these policy fields will be elaborated, and suggestions for future research will be proposed. 17.2 THE ACTORS Public choice theory focuses explicitly on the political actors. Most important are the voter, the politician,1 the public servant2 and the lobbyist. Just like for any other policy field the relevant actors are assumed to maximize their utility from defense and alliance policy by trying to affect the political process. 17.2.1 The (Median) Voter The (median) voter has a vital interest in...
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