As many of you may have heard on the campaign trail of 2016 aside from the bigotry and racism, Donald Trump has plans to ‘rebuild’ the American military. Looking at America`s current standing around the world, one could agree with Trump`s comments; the middle East is worse off than it was 17 years ago and her wars are lengthy with no real conclusion.
Trump may have spotted the symptoms of one of America`s biggest problems, however the road ahead laid out by the president elect seems more like going deeper down the rabbit whole rather than solving the actual problems that have put America in her current state. Trump talks of an extra $54billion a year to the defence department, to make sure America has the best means to defend herself and not be threatened by any other nations.
The entire premise of Trump`s effort to increase defence spending is built on a misconception. America doesn`t have too little power or military strength, if anything it has too much. By itself, America already has the most powerful military, with a budget of over 600bn dollars a year. Even though that number is already astronomical, to put into context, America by itself represents 36% of the world`s entire military spending with over 1000 military bases worldwide costing over 100billion dollars each year by themselves just for maintenance. Worries about China`s growing influence and boldness has alarmed many hawkish Republicans and Democrats that America needs to focus additionally on its rivalry with China. This is self-evident in any case, as their needs to be increased relations between the two greatest world powers, however Trump along with his chief adviser Steve Bannon (Ex executive chair of the alt right Breitbart News Network) believe that conflict with China may be inevitable especially considering China`s aggressive foreign policy in Asia and American interests in the region. Though the threat could be perceived as imminent or inevitable, China only spends around 200 bn dollars a year on defence, although the figure has been increasing. By any measure, America outspends the next top 8 defence spenders combined, most of which are its allies.
It is quite clear that defence spending and excessive military force have not made the world safer or hugely advanced American interests. Most people around the world, when polled said that the greatest threat they perceived to the world was the United States of America. So much for diplomacy over military action, to afford this extra 50bn dollars in expenditure every year, the white house plans to cut the state department`s (the diplomatic branch of the American) budget by a third and to cut funding to the EPA (the Environmental Protection Agency). For additional context, the state departments total budget accounts for 50bn dollars a year and the EPA accounting for a little over 8 billion dollars a year. If there is one thing the Trump administration is not short off, its diplomatic incidents and roughs. This announcement by Trump simply begs the question is this extra spending needed? When America already has, its military supremacy guaranteed for the next few decades, by gutting the smaller but equally important agencies of the government. Nerveless, this increase is not required and if rump wanted to cut extra spending to “rebuild” America`s military, it could start with the 125 billion dollars that the pentagon could save if it cut bureaucracy wastage.
For many this is not a surprise, America has kept such huge levels of military spending ever since the end of the cold war due to its military industrial complex. America is the world’s biggest arms manufacturer with the largest companies (Lockheed, Smith and Wesson, Halliburton or Colt) and the most powerful military, over a long period such truths have become the norm as arms companies have lobbied congress and rely on military intervention to acquire humongous government contacts. Would it be a stretch to suggest that it is this dangerous complacency with the current state of affairs and the influence of the military industrial complex that has led America to be so hawkish and willing to intervene through military means as a pose to diplomacy? In the scheme of things, were talking about billions of dollars, and these could be well spent elsewhere. America has plenty of domestic problems it needs to solve, for example: it would only cost 75 bn dollars a year for the US government offer free universal college tuition. America`s defence doesn`t need to get any bigger, if anything quite the opposite, how can America be expected to solve any of its problems if it is perpetually spending over 50% of its discretionary spending on defence alone…The answer is simple, it can`t and won`t.
(Image courtesy of Fusion)