U.S. Military and Defense Spending: An Interview with Dr. Alma Keshavarz

If we wish to keep up with challenges in Iran, Afghanistan, and China, our foreign funding must be re-examined.

Kevin Fang: Just to start off broadly, what are your thoughts on the current state of US defense spending?

Graph from Peter G. Peterson Foundation showing world defense spending.

Sam Abodo: You mentioned there is a greater focus on State Department allocations rather than DoD spending as a whole. Given Biden’s background as Senate Foreign Relations Chairman, for example, will we see more foreign spending on these kinds of programs?

Sam Abodo: The major issue with Afghanistan withdrawal from what I’ve observed is the Taliban human rights issue. How can the United States mitigate the women’s rights issue in Afghanistan? How do you feel about U.S. spending contributions since the war started?

Kevin Fang: We’ve talked about how military spending has been shown in the media. But what’s your opinion on how nations have portrayed defense spending in foreign wars, especially the War on Terror post-9/11.

Kevin Fang: Do you believe September 11 is the correct time to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan? Do you have any opinions on the administration’s decision?

Kyle Robertson: Do you think a new administration in Iran will be willing to cooperate on a nuclear deal with the Biden administration? How will Iran’s desire to lift sanctions and recent attacks like the one on the Natanz nuclear facility that, although the United States may not have done by themselves, they were compliant in, affect this process?

if I’m Iran, I’m thinking well, despite the setback at Natanz, I’m already enriching past the nuclear deal capabilities and spinning advanced centrifuges which I was not able to do so under nuclear deal. My proxies are doing their own thing. So, why should I give all this up for a deal?

Kevin Fang: Some have criticized the US for overspending on modern technology not useful in fighting asymmetrical warfare. Given programs such as the F-35 fighter jet, which is estimated to cost $1.6 trillion over its lifetime, should the U.S. cut funding on these more high end weapons programs or perhaps shift focus entirely?

An F-35B Lightning II Fifth Generation in Beaufort, South Carolina. Jeff Mitchell / Getty Images

Kevin Fang: Building off of that, in recent years, especially during the 2016 elections, there were allegations that countries such as Russia were exploiting cyber security weaknesses to launch digital attacks on America and American allies. Going forward, should we be more proactive in funding or combating such attacks?

Sam Abodo: How do you feel we can combat intellectual property theft, for example from Chinese companies that take American innovation and reproduce it at faster rates?

Sam Abodo: Do you have any advice for people looking to go into the field?

The Triple Helix at Carnegie Mellon University promotes the interdisciplinary nature of public policy, science, technology, and society.