Of all the programs the new Republican Congress targeted for cuts in 1995 and 1996, the military budget was the glaring exception to the budget-axe rule. Although the Newt Republicans threatened the elimination of welfare programs as entitlements, the same body of representatives and senators proclaimed the necessity of maintaining defense spending at rates above the cold war average. The rationale for the 1996 defense budget of $265 billion was hardly new, however, or linked exclusively to Republican congressional hawks. Instead, the ideological arguments were forged over the past twenty years by executive branch officials within the White House; the Departments of State and Defense; military contractors; and foreign investors concerned about threats to U.S. interests in the less-developed world.