But first …
Trump + Russia = bigger than Watergate. (Show America your tax returns, Donald!) – R.T.
By Steven R. Maher
“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – President Dwight Eisenhower
President Donald J. Trump has called for a $54 billion increase in the United States military budget. The Associated Press reported on March 3, 2017, that this would be a 10% increase in the Defense Department budget.
The Wall Street Journal reported on February 28, 2017, that the U.S. in 2015 accounted for 34% of the world’s military spending. The newspaper, citing the U.S. Defense Department for the U.S. figures and the Stockholm International Peace Institute for those of other countries, put the spending as follows:
• The U.S. spent $595 billion on defense.
• China spent $214 billion on its armed forces.
• Russia spent $91 billion.
• Saudi Arabia, a U.S. ally, spent $85 billion.
• France, the U.S.’s oldest ally, spent $61 billion on defense.
• Britain, the U.S.’s closest ally, spent $60 billion.
• India, the world’s largest democracy, spent $51 billion on defense.
• Germany, another U.S. ally, spent $47 billion.
• Japan, another U.S. ally, spent $46 billion.
• South Korea, a flashpoint because of North Korea’s erratic dictator, spends $39 billion.
• Brazil spends $32 billion.
The 10 countries above, less the U.S., account for 42% of the world’s military spending. Counting the U.S., the figure rises to 76%. The rest of the world makes up the remaining 24%, or $412 billion.
While the most likely country the U.S. would go to war with remains North Korea, its military spending did not make the top ranks of military spenders. That leaves China and Russia to consider.
The U.S. and its formal NATO allies (France, Britain and Germany) and allies through other treaties (Saudi Arabia, Japan and South Korea) spend $933 billion on defense. China and Russia are spending $305 billion.
The U.S. and its allies are spending three dollars for every dollar spent by its potential wartime enemies.
This is before the increases Trump is calling for.
Where spending is needed
According to various media outlets, there are two areas the U.S. does need to spend more money on: First, there have been reports that some U.S. military units are running low on ammunition. Second, there have been reports that some military equipment, particularly aircraft, have been “cannibalized”, i.e., spare parts have been taken from working machines to repair other equipment, and not replaced.
There is no argument that such spending is required. But buying enough ammunition and filling up the backlog of spare parts won’t cost anywhere near $54 billion.
What does Trump want to spend the extra money on?
Trump wants to expand the U.S. Navy from 272 ships to 350 ships, reports the Associated Press. The navy itself wants to expand it to 308 ships after 2020, says the same report.
Trump wants to expand the Fleet to a size even beyond what the U.S. Navy says is needed. Trump recently visited the newest naval aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Gerald R. Ford, which cost $12.9 billion. The amounts Trump would spend to get the 350 ships the Navy says it doesn’t need, could be extraordinary. This would be to face two potential enemies, China and Russia. The U.S. and its allies are already outspending three to one on their militaries.
Trump appears to be falling into a trap frequently encountered among political leaders: he is preparing to refight the last conventional war. But the future threats are more likely to be in the areas of terrorism and cyber-warfare. These are the areas Trump should concentrate on, not buying ships the Navy doesn’t say it needs.
It will be interesting to see how the 30 Tea Party Congressmen – the so-called freedom lobby – vote on Trump’s wasteful military spending plans. These are the people who have spent the last eight years denouncing Barrack Obama’s budget deficits. Let’s see if they’re willing to put the taxpayers’ money where their big Tea Party mouths have been and vote down Trump’s fiscally irresponsible military buildup.