Context for the Trump Administration’s New Budget Priorities
The Trump Administration’s new budget provides a 10% increase ($54 billion) in military spending. What are the context and the rationales?
The United States already spends more ($597 billion) than the next seven countries (China, Saudi Arabia, Russia United Kingdom, India, France and Japan) combined; many of these countries are our allies, not our enemies. The next largest defense spender, China, spends less than 1/3rd of what we spend on defense.
We already spend 3.3% of our nation’s Gross Domestic Product on defense; that’s 50% higher than the average percent of GDP spent in the rest of the world, and we have a very high GDP to begin with. The proposed Trump Administration increase of $54 billion for defense is about equal to what France, Great Britain and India each spend on their national defense budget.
What is the rationale? During World War Two, we were defending against Nazism, Fascism and a militaristic expansionist Japan. Today, we are bogged down in religious and ethnic civil wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan at a 2016-17 cost of about $55 billion annually. Under the Obama Administration, we have cut those costs from close to $180 billion annually when President Obama took office.
What are the threats facing President Trump? ISIS in the Middle East where the Iraqis, Kurds and Free Syrian Army are doing most of the fighting and the US is in a support and training role. Russia in the Baltics and Balkans where President Trump has been alienating many of our NATO partners at a time when President Putin needs to see a strong united European/US diplomatic response backed up by economic sanctions. North Korea testing ballistic and nuclear weapons in East Asia in the very place where we have been threatening to get into a trade war with the Chinese who have the best leverage with the North Koreans. China seeking regional maritime dominion in the South China Sea through which much of the world’s commerce flows.
Is President Trump anticipating military action? Does America First mean a neo-militaristic America? If not, why are we stripping all of nation’s our social and economic development programs to the bone to pay for this large increase in an already bloated budget?
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin