By Dan Dupont / December 8, 2008 at 5:00 AM

The Cambridge, MA-based Project on Defense Alternatives has released two new reports on the future of national security, one targeted at the transition and near-term debate over defense and the other more broadly focused.

From "Re-Envisioning Defense: An Agenda for U.S. Policy Debate & Transition":

The United States is entering a critical period of policy transition. Beginning with the advent of a new administration in Washington, and continuing through the end of 2010, all of America's national security and defense planning guidance will be revised. Certainly the need for change is manifest.

Recent defense policy evinces a disturbing paradox: it has been delivering less and less security at ever increasing cost. And, on a world scale, a process of global re-polarization and re-militarization underway. If unchecked, this portends a return to conditions reminiscent of the Cold War, which would add impetus to weapon proliferation, arms races, and conflicts.

Reviewing current US policy, we have identified 25 specific concerns that relate to the problems noted above. These might form an agenda for policy discussion and change. From these we have distilled a “short list” of three overarching topics or concerns that, taken together, capture the fundamental problems in current policy. Alternatives addressing these three core concerns can provide guidance for understanding and addressing the rest.

And from "Forceful Engagement: Rethinking the Role of Military Power in US Global Policy":

Setting a new course in policy begins with acknowledging that the surge in US military activism that followed the 9/11 attacks has gone too far and has become, on balance, counter-productive. National leadership must become more realistic about what can be reliably accomplished by military means and more sensitive to the costs and chaos that attend war.

Although military primacy has proved less useful than many had hoped, it has become a US security goal in its own right. This distorts US global policy and practice. More relevant than the power balance between the United States and its adversaries is the balance between US power and US objectives.

Military primacy is not sustainable, at any rate. The more it is exercised, the more it invites balancing behavior on the part of others. Notably, present global disparities in military power do not reflect the distribution of human and material resources. This means that other nations have considerable latent capacity to narrow the military gap between themselves and the United States, if they so choose.