FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Trump’s New Era of Militarism and Mendacity

There is no better introduction to the militarism and callousness of the Trump era than the budget proposal for 2018.  Much has been written about the miserly cuts to Meals on Wheels, housing aid, and other community assistance, but it’s just as important to examine the unjustified and unnecessary increases in defense spending.  The Trump budget is clearly designed to enable another cycle of militarized national security policy and, in the words of Steve Bannon, to “deconstruct the administrative state.”

In April 1953, soon after the death of Joseph Stalin, President Dwight D. Eisenhower gave his “cross of Iron” speech, warning against “destroying from within what you are trying to defend from without.”  Eisenhower wanted to avoid the enormous domestic price that would accompany unwarranted military spending.  And military spending, he emphasized, meant “spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”  This is exactly what Trump is calling for in a federal budget that takes direct aim at scientific and medical research, the endowments for the arts and humanities, and the block grants for food and housing support.  Even the Department of Energy’s tiny program to help insulate the houses of the poor would be eliminated.

Meanwhile, the over-financed military will received an increase of $54 billion, which is equal to the former budget of the Department of State as well as the entire defense budget of Russia.  Defense spending and procurement should be linked to actual threats to the United States, which faces no existential threat.  If this were done, Trump’s administration would have to take into account that the United States is the only whitleblowerciacountry in the world with a global military presence that can project air and naval power to every far corner.  The Russian navy is an operational backwater, and the Chinese navy is a regional one, not global.  There is no air force to rival the U.S. Air Force, and no other country has huge military bases the world over or even access to countless ports and anchorages.  As a result, no other country has used lethal military power so often and so far from its borders in pursuit of dubious security interests.

The sad reality is that every aspect of the Pentagon’s budget, including research and development, procurement, operations and maintenance, and infrastructure, could be scrutinized for additional savings.  The excessive spending on the Air Force is the most wasteful of all military expenditures.  The Air Force is obsessed with fighter superiority in an era without a threat.  The Air Force has not been threatened by air power since the end of the Second World War, and the U.S. Air Force holds an advantage over any combination of air powers.  There was no adversary for the F-22, the world’s most effective and lethal air-to-air combat aircraft, but the program was killed in 2011 to make way for the more costly and contentious F-35, the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program.  Even Senator John McCain (R-AZ) referred to the program as a “train wreck.”

As with the Air Force and its dominance of the skies, the Navy has had total dominance at sea since the end of the Second World War.  Even the chief of naval operations concedes that the United States enjoys a “degree of overmatch [with any potential adversary] that is extraordinary.”  The Navy has its own air force, its own army, and its own strategic weapons, and it is equal in size to all the navies of the world combined.  The Navy has a subordinate organization, the Coast Guard, which represents the world’s seventh-largest fleet.  Second to the F-35 nightmare is the worst-case costs for the next generation of aircraft carriers, which Donald Trump inadvertently highlighted when he toured the USS Gerald R. Ford, the Navy’s most expensive warship at $14 billion.  China’s success with inexpensive anti-ship missiles questions the strategic suitability of U.S. aircraft carriers.

The very existence of the Marine Corps, which has more planes, ships, armored vehicles, and personnel than the entire British military, is questionable.  The Marines have not conducted an amphibious landing in 65 years, and there is no other nation in the world that has such a Corps in terms of numbers and capabilities.  The Marines’ V-22 Osprey, a futuristic vertical takeoff and landing hybrid aircraft is neither reliable nor safe, and even President George H.W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney tried to kill the program 25 years ago.  The Marine version of the F-35, with an expensive and unwieldy vertical take-off and landing program, should be canceled.

The budget proposal does not address how the Pentagon would spend its latest windfall, but surely there will be unneeded increases for our huge nuclear force, which could be significantly reduced.  Other nuclear powers such as Britain, France, China, and even Israel, India, and Pakistan, believe that 200-300 nuclear weapons are sufficient for deterrence.  Several years ago two U.S. Air Force officers wrote an authoritative essay that pointed specifically to 331 nuclear weapons as providing an assured deterrence capability.  But Russia and the United States have thousands of warheads; Russian President Vladimir wants to cut the inventory, but Donald Trump wants to keep building.  Trump had to interrupt a phone call with Putin last month in order to learn about the New START Treaty that the Kremlin would like to use as a stepping stone to a round of deeper cuts in the U.S. and Russian arsenals.  Trump was uninterested.

President Eisenhower was spot-on in describing the social costs of defense spending and in warning that “humanity was hanging from a cross of iron.”  In view of the counterproductive use of U.S. military power over the past two decades in North Africa, the Middle East, and Southwest Asia, cutting the defense budget would be a realistic way to begin to reduce the operational tempo of the U.S. military, control the deficit, and reorder U.S. priorities.  The United States is in an arms race with itself; it must be stopped.

More articles by:

Melvin A. Goodman is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and a professor of government at Johns Hopkins University.  A former CIA analyst, Goodman is the author of Failure of Intelligence: The Decline and Fall of the CIA and National Insecurity: The Cost of American Militarism. and A Whistleblower at the CIA. His forthcoming book is American Carnage: Donald Trump’s War on Intelligence” (City Lights Publishers, 2019).  Goodman is the national security columnist for counterpunch.org.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail