FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trump on Military Spending: an Encouraging Sign

As on most issues, president-elect Donald Trump has been all over the map on military issues throughout his campaign and post-campaign pronouncements. One day he muses about disbanding NATO, the next day he promises to “rebuild” the US military, which is already by far not just the most well-funded war machine, but the most well-funded enterprise of any kind on Planet Earth (the 2017  US military budget exceeds Wal-Mart’s 2015 gross revenues by about $100 billion). He’s hard to pin down.

Still, Trump’s December 12 tweet on Lockheed’s F-35 contract is encouraging to those who’d like to see real US “defense” spending cuts. “The F-35 program and cost is out of control,” he wrote. “Billions of dollars can and will be saved on military (and other) purchases after January 20th.”

If the F-35 — called the Joint Strike Fighter because it’s supposed to be used by all US armed forces and several allies, replacing various other aircraft — ever actually rolls out ready for combat, its life cycle cost will come to more than a trillion dollars and the prices of various models will run in the range of $100 million per aircraft. For the sake of comparison, that’s more than three times the price of the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet, the current US Navy and Marine Corps fighter/attack workhorse.

The F-35 is indeed one of the more insane wastes of taxpayer money in recent history. If Trump could find a way to kill the whole project, both taxpayers and the armed forces would be better off for its demise.

But even if Trump is serious, he’s in for a fight with 75 years of history. Since World War II, the primary function of the US government has been to transfer wealth from the pockets of American workers to the bank accounts of “defense” contractors like Lockheed Martin.

Even as long ago as 1960, when president Dwight Eisenhower warned America about the dangers of the “military-industrial complex” in his farewell speech, his warning was too little, too late. American politicians already were, and still are, addicted to military spending (and to the campaign contributions it calls forth and the make-work jobs it brings to their states and districts).

Breaking that bad habit is a daunting job. Like they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step is admitting you have a problem. The only problem American politicians seem to see with spending half a trillion dollars a year on the pretense of “defending” the US is that they don’t get to spend more.

Instead of singling out particular boondoggles like the F-35, Trump might have more success imposing fiscal discipline across the board. That is, demand spending cuts to the US Department of Defense’s top budget line and let DoD figure out the details of how to make do with less.

A 75% cut, phased in over ten years, sounds about right. The US government would still be the single biggest military spender on the planet, but only by about 2 1/2 times, instead of 10 times, as much as its closest competitor (China).

More articles by:

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
Nomi Prins 
The Inequality Gap on a Planet Growing More Extreme
John W. Whitehead
Know Your Rights or You Will Lose Them
David Swanson
The Abolition of War Requires New Thoughts, Words, and Actions
J.P. Linstroth
Primates Are Us
Bill Willers
The War Against Cash
Jonah Raskin
Doris Lessing: What’s There to Celebrate?
Ralph Nader
Are the New Congressional Progressives Real? Use These Yardsticks to Find Out
Binoy Kampmark
William Blum: Anti-Imperial Advocate
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
Green New Deal Advocates Should Address Militarism
John Feffer
Review: Season 2 of Trump Presidency
Rich Whitney
General Motors’ Factories Should Not Be Closed. They Should Be Turned Over to the Workers
Christopher Brauchli
Deported for Christmas
Kerri Kennedy
This Holiday Season, I’m Standing With Migrants
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail