Acting President Donald Trump proposes a whopping $54 billion increase in America’s already obscenely massive military budget.
I write “Acting President” because he does not perform like a bona fide commander-in-chief. Real ones in our history have always relied upon the professional leadership of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard before ever suggesting to Congress that our armed forces need indecently massive infusions of taxpayers’ money to operate effectively.
He is surrounded by top political advisers with little or no military experience. Their announced goals are to “deconstruct” the American government. He talks of his passionate love for our military, but when he had an opportunity to join it when America was at war, he dodged the draft.
His amorous affair with Vladimir Putin and Russia calls into question his understanding of the myriad security threats facing America. Any other American president, upon learning that Russia had corrupted our election processes, would have recalled our ambassador and strengthened our NATO alliance.
Instead, his discredited national security adviser was telling the Russians that American sanctions, imposed by President Obama, could be overlooked by the Kremlin.
What has Trump done in response to Russia’s persistent attacks? He has belittled our NATO allies, demanding that they pay more. His incredibly ineffective secretary of state, who has accepted Russia’s highest civilian honor, is planning a trip to Moscow. His defense budget will dangerously cripple the State Department in order to waste money on redundant arms.
Before federal budgets are proposed, military experts and House and Senate Armed Forces Committees spend months and often years thoughtfully analyzing our defense requirements. Trump announced defense spending increases within days, based solely upon his gut feeling about things. His inept approach to health care demonstrated that he is incapable of doing his homework.
Trump pretends to be a conservative Republican, but he is surely not. President Eisenhower was a genuine Republican, who understood war and defense spending. His farewell address, warning of a corrupting military-industrial complex, should give all Americans pause, when considering the flawed proposals of our inept chief executive. Trump obviously never read or understood Ike’s prescient words.
According to The New York Times, the United States now owns 3,476 tactical aircraft, 760 attack helicopters, 637 unmanned aerial vehicles, 157 bombers, 93 cruisers, destroyers and frigates, 10 aircraft carriers, 31 amphibious ships, 68 submarines, 450 ICBM launchers, 2,831 tanks. Our most active enemies are poorly armed ISIS and Taliban fighters.
We have 1.3 million active duty troops and another 865,000 in reserve. We own over 30,000 nuclear weapons. Trump, who favors more nukes and their proliferation, has tweeted, “Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all.”
Clearly, this is the viewpoint of a delusional man.
Trump plans to spend $400 billion on the new F-35 fighter. He wants 75 more ships, giving us an 18-carrier navy. As a former naval person I believe these expenditures make little sense if your most pressing military problem is winning counterterror campaigns against irregular fighters. The enemies we now are engaged with do not concentrate large numbers of warriors where they are susceptible to massive American firepower. Adding unneeded warships will have zero impact on landlocked enemies.
After just two months in office, President Eisenhower, who had been Supreme Allied Commander in World War II, spoke of the “dread road” of constant military escalation. He warned of “a burden of arms draining wealth and labor of all peoples.”
Ike reasoned, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies … a theft from those who hunger, and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. … The cost of one heavy bomber is this: It is a modern brick school. It is two finely equipped hospitals. It is 50 miles of highway. This is not a way of life at all … under a cloud of threatening war it is humanity hanging from a cross.”
Providing for the common defense, Ike reasoned, “does not preclude the promotion of the general welfare.” He knew that our strength rested upon a united nation, committed to close cooperation with its traditional allies.
Our present-day picture is of a badly divided nation led by a man who seems determined to fracture the vital alliances that Ike worked so hard to create. Trump’s ignorance, reckless bombast, strange affinity for Russia, wasteful war spending and inherent nastiness can only weaken America and never make it “great again.”